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New Research Reveals Why Top Consultants Choose to Go It Alone

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While the growing “gig economy” may often be thought of primarily in terms of lower-skilled and lower-paid workers, the shift toward freelance work is also impacting knowledge and professional workers in fields like consulting.

In a new article in Harvard Business Review, Michigan Ross Professor Sue Ashford explores the specific reasons why experienced consultants choose to quit their secure jobs in favor of the independent route. Ashford co-authored the paper with her fellow researchers Dena McCallum, co-founder of the consulting firm Eden McCallum, and Brianna Barker Caza of the University of Manitoba.

“Our data suggest that independent working appeals because it hits both a professional and personal sweet spot. Professionally, the work seems to be both more meaningful and have higher impact,” the authors write. “Personally, they report having more control over their time and more flexibility in balancing their work and personal lives.”

The article explores these factors in some detail, and also suggests ways that traditional employers can respond to the trend.

Read the full article

In addition, Ashford also recently co-authored another HBR article on a related topic: “Are You Ready to Go Freelance?”

In that piece, Ashford and her coauthors offer some data-based suggestions, including a quiz, to help anyone considering the freelance life to decide whether the time is right to make the move.

Read the full article

Sue Ashford is the Michael and Susan Jandernoa Professor of Management and Organizations, and the Chair of Management and Organizations, at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Media contact: Bridget Vis, Public Relations Specialist, visb@umich.edu