The article conceptualizes the dilemma between exploration and exploitation for flexible knowledge workers. At a time when work is fragmented and society is individualized, we consider, besides the strategies of organizations, also those of workers and the ways in which they move among organizations in an attempt to ‘get by’ between increased margins of autonomy and a lack of the resources necessary to pursue their passions and to fulfil their projects. Through analysis of the life stories of flexible knowledge workers and their relationships with the organizations for which they work, the article illustrates how flexible knowledge workers handle the tension between exploration and exploitation and how organizations resist their attempts. The purpose is to interpret the pervasiveness of individualization processes that prompt individuals to think of themselves as organizations, while human resource management claim that people are their most valuable resource but treat them as disposable workers.
Gherardi, S. and Murgia, A. (2012), "By Hook or By Crook: Flexible Workers between Exploration and Exploitation", Holmqvist, M. and Spicer, A. (Ed.) Managing ‘Human Resources’ by Exploiting and Exploring People’s Potentials (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 37), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 75-103. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X(2013)0000037007
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