Are freelancers a neglected form of small business?

John Kitching (Small Business Research Centre, Kingston‐upon Thames University, Kingston‐upon‐Thames, UK)
David Smallbone (Small Business Research Centre, Kingston‐upon Thames University, Kingston‐upon‐Thames, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Publication date: 17 February 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that freelancing is neglected by researchers as a form of small business activity. It aims to consider whether it is possible and useful for researchers to distinguish freelancers from other types of small business owner.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper does this in three ways: first, by conceptualising freelance status; second, by examining the research literature on freelance workers; and, third, by estimating the size of the UK freelance workforce to demonstrate their importance.

Findings

The definition proposed permits identification of many types of freelancer hitherto neglected by researchers. Freelancers are a large and growing proportion of the UK business stock and the recent recession has led to a further expansion.

Originality/value

Given the size and distinctiveness of the freelance workforce, researchers might explore the similarities and differences between freelancers and other small business owners with regard to: their motivations for starting and continuing to operate on a freelance basis; experiences of business ownership and management; the heterogeneity of the freelance workforce; and the wider social, economic and political causes and consequences of freelance working.

Keywords

Citation

Kitching, J. and Smallbone, D. (2012), "Are freelancers a neglected form of small business?", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 74-91. https://doi.org/10.1108/14626001211196415

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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