Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Strategic Leadership Studies


Adam J. Vanhove

Margaret F. Sloan

Melissa Keith


Over the past few decades, the number of individuals engaging in non-standard employment has been increasing. Drawing on self-determination theory (SDT), this study examines the motivation and job satisfaction of independent contractors, the largest form of these alternative work arrangements. Specifically, I examine how the rationale for workers entering contracting work arrangements affect in-role contractor motivation and job satisfaction. Based on a sample of N = 241 adjunct instructors from two universities, I find that the positive relationship between those entering contracting because the work offers autonomy, flexibility and the ability to pursue personally interesting work (pull factors) and their resultant job satisfaction is fully mediated by the level of autonomous motivation experienced in their work. The degree to which individuals entering contract work because of an inability to secure a desired work role or pursue their preferred career path (push factors) showed an inverse relationship with job satisfaction, which was not mediated by autonomous or controlled motivation. Finally, the level of perceived supervisor and organizational support that contractors experienced did not influence the level of autonomous motivation, regardless of the reasons for choosing contracting work. This study develops new measurement scales for pull and push factors and demonstrates the importance of recruiting and selecting contractors that find the associated contract work personally interesting and meaningful. It also highlights the need for future research to understand how and under which conditions leaders or managers are able to influence contractors effectively.



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