“Contractors: An alternative source of human capital Investigations into the investment in and output from, and the recognition and utilization of contractors’ human capital”


It is by now well-known that contractors can be an alternative source of human capital, alternative to employees and other non-employed workers (Barley & Kunda, 2004; Cappelli & Keller, 2013; Davis-Blake & Uzzi, 1993; Hamori, Bonet, & Cappelli, 2011; Kochan & Litwin, 2011; Lepak & Snell, 1999; Matusik & Hill, 1998). It seems to be so well-known by now that empirical studies either ignores it or takes it for granted (Kochan & Litwin, 2011; Kryscynski & Morris, 2019). There is therefore much to explore. During this proposal defence I will demonstrate how I will contribute to the empirical and theoretical gap in the human capital literature. In short, I will contribute through four articles. The first article will investigate if contractors invest in their human capital by engaging in continuing education, and if doing so pays off for them. The second article will investigate if hiring contractors that have completed a continuing education result in increased turnover for companies. Relying on a self-designed survey that will be distributed to the members of a Norwegian labour union, the third article explores if and which contractors perceive it so that their human capital is being recognized and utilized by the organizations that hire them. The fourth and final article will apply a grounded theory approach and through semi-structured interviews with managers and/or HR departments in a chosen industry explore if and how companies recognize and utilize the human capital provided by contractors. In sum, the four articles will provide a thorough exploration into the current empirical and theoretical gap.