Human resources in project-based firms

moving in, moving out, moving on

This paper is about people in project-based firms, in particular, the type of project-based firm that relies heavily on knowledge workers. We focus on contracted technical consultants involved in complex problem solving at one of the major technical consultancies in Sweden. The study is based on two primary sets of data: (1) interviews with managers, and (2) interviews with experienced consultants/problem solvers. In this setting, three processes seem to be important: moving in (to swiftly act in a role and be able to contribute to the project); moving out (to prepare for departure and effective handover); and moving on (to find new challenging assignments). This paper draws on the theoretical idea of “liminality,” that is the feeling of being “betwixt” and in the threshold between organizations and assignments. We identify two types of liminality: social liminality and technical liminality. Thereafter, we identify four working situations with special reference to liminality. Based on these situations, we pin
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