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Title: The Incredibles : investigating what it is like to be a portfolio worker
Author: Wilcox, Jan
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2019
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This study provides insights into the experiences of portfolio workers and contributes to the growing body of work on non-standard working arrangements. The empirical material was gathered from 36 semi-structured interviews, a focus group and a lived experience diary. The research was carried out by a portfolio worker and this position, as portfolio worker-researcher, has helped to obtain an in-depth understanding of participants' views and interpretations of how they experience, negotiate and make sense of their portfolio working careers. This qualitative Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis-informed study draws on the concepts of new careers, identity, and identity work to generate insights into portfolio workers' perspectives on their position within the world of work. The findings suggest that portfolio work does not reflect the polarised views presented in existing research. Rather than entailing either autonomy, flexibility, novelty and fulfilment; or precarity, a lack of job security, and restricted freedom and growth; the understandings of portfolio work are more nuanced and highly dependent on previous experiences. Following the analysis, the thesis puts forward a new definition of portfolio work and an empirically-based typology of portfolio workers. The analysis also highlights the extensive identity work carried out by portfolio workers, whereby aspects of identity are concealed, or revealed, depending on the circumstances. This ability to manipulate identity, conceptualised as a Rubik's cube identity, facilitates the presentation of a legitimate social identity and concomitant self-identity. The process of identity manipulation, increases identity capacity, developing social and cultural capital and creating value by helping to develop the adaptability, resilience and transferable skills required to navigate today's changing world of work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD28 Management. Industrial Management