Summary of Gurus, Hired Guns and Warm Bodies

Itinerant Experts in a Knowledge Economy

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Gurus, Hired Guns and Warm Bodies book summary
Professional contract workers could save your project and your budget, or they could make your staffers really steamed.


8 Overall

7 Applicability

10 Innovation

6 Style


Some years ago, during the height of the technology stock bubble, a book entitled Free Agent Nation made quite a splash by glorifying the phenomenon of independent contracting. Less famously and far less optimistically, a number of economists and anthropologists pointed to this trend as a grave sign of the decay of workers’ position in American society. Stephen R. Barley and Gideon Kunda, the authors of this study, steer a careful, meticulously documented middle course. They examined the observable fact of independent contracting in the high technology industry from three viewpoints: the contractors, the headhunters and the client firms. They say that the contractor is a new, different kind of knowledge worker with a unique set of opportunities and constraints. The book is clearly written, based on apparently sound evidence and illustrated with carefully chosen anecdotes. getAbstract suggests that its primary appeal will be to academics and other students of labor market trends, but also recommends it to firms that hire contractors and to contractors themselves - both will benefit from the authors’ analysis of their market.

In this summary, you will learn

  • "How your company should work with contract employees;
  • How to manage contract labor; and
  • How to be a contractor.


The Rebels
Three unlikely rebels against conventional employment now work as contractors in high tech positions.

Kent is a 36-year-old software guru who once worked for some of the best companies in Silicon Valley, usually as a "hired gun," the Valley’s slang for...
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About the Authors

Stephen R. Barley is Charles M. Pigott Professor of Management Science and Engineering and co-director of the Center for Work, Technology and Organization at Stanford’s School of Engineering. Gideon Kunda is an associate professor in the Department of Labor Studies at Tel Aviv University.

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