Small Business Economics

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 165–177 | Cite as

Job satisfaction and self-employment: autonomy or personality?

  • Thomas LangeEmail author


Most studies in the economics discourse argue that the impact of self-employment on job satisfaction is mediated by greater procedural freedom and autonomy. Values and personality traits are considered less likely to explain the utility difference between self-employed and salaried workers. Psychology scholars suggest that entrepreneurial satisfaction also depends, at least in part, on specific values and personality traits. Utilising a large dataset derived from the 2006 European Social Survey, this study performs a complementary analysis by taking personality traits, personal values and indicators for workers’ autonomy explicitly into account. The empirical findings add further strength to economists’ argument that, net of values and personality traits, autonomy and independence are the mechanisms by which self-employment leads to higher levels of job satisfaction. These results hold true for both male and female sub-samples even when a multitude of socio-demographic characteristics, personal values and personality traits are controlled for.


Job satisfaction Self-employment Personality traits Autonomy European social survey 

JEL Classifications

J28 L26 



I would like to express my gratitude to two anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions helped improve an earlier draft of this paper in many important ways. I am also indebted to Andrew Clark, Yannis Georgellis, Scott Fargher and Gail Pacheco for their instructive comments on earlier drafts. The usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bournemouth University Business SchoolPoole, DorsetUK

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