A substantially larger proportion of adults now participate in the US labour force than did thirty or forty years ago. Most of them - and especially the great majority of educated people - do indeed work for an organization. But increasingly they are not employees of that organization. They are contractors, parttimers, temporaries ('temps'). Recently I ran a three-day seminar for some 300 alumni of one of the major US graduate business schools - mostly people in their late thirties or early forties, and highly successful. Practically every one of them worked for an organization - but barely half of them as employees. Fewer still expected to spend their entire working life as employees of an organization. One participant - a forty-fiveyear old metallurgist - only five years ago was an executive of a Fortune 500 Company. Today he is on his own and retained by five different companies, one of them his former employer. 'There simply wasn't enough for me to do in the old company' he said. 'It has a serious metallurgical problem only three or four times a year. The rest of the time I wrote memoranda. Now, when that company has a metallurgical problem I dive right in - not as a consultant but as a full-time member of the team and as its leader. But I stay only until we've licked the problem. I work the same way for my other four clients.' Then there was the thirty-eight-year-old information speCialist who Similarly works as a 'permanent temp' for a number of state agencies in the Midwest. There was the woman executive of an 'outsourcing' firm who described herself as an 'itinerant member of top management' in the twenty large hospitals for which her company keeps the books and does housekeeping and maintenance. Among the participants there were also an engineer on the
payroll of a 'temporary-help' firm who works as plant manager for large companies - usually on a three-year contract - whenever such a company builds and runs in a new plant; the woman physician who similarly works as a 'temp' in setting up emergency departments in hospitals; and a former college dean who works as a 'full-time temp' - for a year at a time - setting up and running fund-raising campaigns for small and medium-sized colleges.