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Applying self-determination theory to explaining differences in career commitment between self-employed and salaried employees: The role of basic psychological needs

Martin Mabunda Baluku (Department of Educational, Organizational and Social Psychology, School of Psychology, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda and Faculty of Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany)
Richard Balikoowa (Department of Educational, Organizational and Social Psychology, School of Psychology, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda)
Edward Bantu (Faculty of Education and Human Resource, Kisii University, Kisii, Kenya)
Kathleen Otto (Faculty of Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany)

Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2053-4604

Article publication date: 18 March 2020

Issue publication date: 20 October 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

Based on self-determination theory, this study aims to examine the impact of satisfaction of basic psychological needs (BPNs) on the commitment to stay self- or salary-employed. Not only the entry of individuals but also their commitment to remain self-employed is important. Enterprises established by the self-employed can only survive longer if the owners are willing to continue in self-employment.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was conducted among a cross-country sample drawn from Germany, Kenya and Uganda. An online survey was conducted among self- and salary-employed individuals in Germany. In Uganda and Kenya, cross-sectional samples were recruited through their workplaces and business forums. These processes yielded 869 responses (373 self-employed and 494 salary-employed). Differences in the impact of BPNs on the commitment to self-employed or salaried-employment across countries were examined using PROCESS macro 2.16.

Findings

The findings revealed that the self-employed exhibit higher commitment to their current form of employment than the salary-employed. The satisfaction of needs for autonomy and competence were associated with higher levels of commitment to self-employment than to salary-employment across the three countries. The need for relatedness was also strongly associated with commitment to self-employment much more than to salary-employment for Ugandan and Kenyan participants; but not for the German participants.

Originality/value

Persistence in self-employment is essential not only for individuals to remain employed but also as a pathway to achieving career success. However, research has paid limited attention to persistence in self-employment. This research contributes to the understanding of antecedents for commitment to self-employment across countries, and therefore what should be done to enable particularly young individuals to stay self-employed. Moreover, the study also examines whether these antecedents have similar effects among individuals in salaried-employment.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Dr. Peter Onderi, MR. Manuel Menning, Ms. Maureen Agalo Mitch for their support and efforts in the data collection process. The study was supported by a scholarship offered to Dr Martin Baluku by the DAAD (Ref. No. 91525333).

Citation

Baluku, M.M., Balikoowa, R., Bantu, E. and Otto, K. (2020), "Applying self-determination theory to explaining differences in career commitment between self-employed and salaried employees: The role of basic psychological needs", Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, Vol. 12 No. 5, pp. 593-619. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEEE-05-2019-0051

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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