Do the self‐employed value autonomy more than employees?

David Prottas (Adelphi University‐School of Business, Garden City, New York, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 8 February 2008



The purpose of this paper is to examine whether the relations between perceived job autonomy and attitudes are stronger among self‐employed than employees.


Four samples (total n=25,974), consisting of self‐report data from working adults, were used. In each, participants were classified under three work arrangements: owners of businesses employing others, independent contractors, and employees. The perceived job autonomy for each work arrangement was determined, as were the strengths of the relationship with attitudinal variables (job satisfaction, life satisfaction, professional commitment, and stress). Correlational analysis and hierarchical regression were used to test whether the strengths of these relationships were stronger among the self‐employed.


In all four samples, both types of self‐employed reported more job autonomy than employees. In all samples and within all work arrangements, the relationships between job autonomy were statistically significant and positive with respect to desirable outcomes and negative with respect to stress. However, the strengths of these relationships were no greater among owners or independents than among employees.

Practical implications

From a career advising and planning perspective, the research indicates that self‐employment, either as an owner or independent, is an effective tactic for individuals to increase their job autonomy. However, there was no evidence that the self‐employed differ from employees with respect to the benefit they receive from the job autonomy they perceive.


This study adds to the literature on career choice and self‐employment by comparing the strengths of relationships between job autonomy within and across work arrangements.



Prottas, D. (2008), "Do the self‐employed value autonomy more than employees?", Career Development International, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 33-45.

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