Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/amd.2019.0093

As employees cannot always readily stretch their competencies and professional identity on the job through regular job crafting, we ask the question: Are there alternative ways of crafting inside organizations through which people can stretch themselves? Using grounded theory methods, we step into the shoes of federal employees active in Open Opportunities, a digital market for temporary assignments in the U.S. federal government. We find that employees use such temporary assignments to craft a liminal space in which they can explore new skills, establish new professional ties, and claim new professional identities unavailable in their full-time jobs. However, due to its visibility, this way of crafting can also generate substantial supervisory pressures that resist it. These pressures may induce an image cost, and trigger increased frustration, stress, and strain in people’s jobs. As we describe this new job crafting pattern, we pay attention to both its benefits and burdens, and the impact thereof on people’s efforts to stretch themselves at work. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our study and its consequences for future research on job crafting, professional identity development, and the future of work.

Whiteboard Video Abstract

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