Journal Article

Right place, right time: serendipity and informal job matching

Steve McDonald

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 8, issue 2, pages 307-331
Published in print April 2010 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online October 2009 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwp021
Right place, right time: serendipity and informal job matching

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Chance is a prominent feature in the processes by which people become aware of job openings, yet current theories—which emphasize the instrumental job search activities of workers—do not provide a framework for understanding the unsolicited receipt of job leads. The concept of serendipity is discussed as a way to understand the role that chance plays in informal job finding. Interviews with 42 workers in an engineering firm reveal that job information often comes from unlikely sources in unexpected situations. Moreover, nationally representative survey data are used to assess the non-random experience of serendipity, finding that personal, contextual and relational characteristics structure the unsolicited receipt of job leads. The results from this mixed methods approach help to supplement the current theories of job matching and offer a promising research agenda for future investigations of the conditions under which serendipitous job finding is likely to occur.

Keywords: networks; embeddedness; employment; labor markets; rational choice; J01 labor economics

Journal Article.  9554 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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