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Since the publication of Rousseau's (2005) book ‘I-deals: Idiosyncratic deals employees bargain for themselves', the concept of idiosyncratic deal making has proven to be a fruitful and innovative line of research. Idiosyncratic deals (I-deals) between workers and employer or supervisors refer to individualized employment arrangements, such as hours, job content, pay, and development. The process of I-deal making is a negotiation, typically between an individual and his or her direct supervisor, who together try to find a solution that meets their potentially conflicting as well as common goals. An example of I-deal making refers to a nurse who asks her manager permission to take a course in teaching skills to be paid by the employer, in order to further her goal of teaching nursing in the near future. Note that I-deal making need not only be related to employability in one's current job. Employability refers to "the continuous fulfilling, acquiring or creating of work through the optimal use of one's competences" (Van der Heijde & Van der Heijden, 2006, p. 453). Employable workers are those who effectively adapt to work-related changes due to their personal adaptability, clear career identity and rich and varied social and human capital (Fugate, Kinicki, & Ashforth, 2004).
Until now, the research streams of I-deals and employability have been separate worlds. There are strong reasons for a more integrated approach. First, the concept of employability stands to benefit from incorporating a relational approach. Workers need other parties (i.e., an employer or a principal) to be employed in the first place. Workers need to negotiate, about a job, developmental opportunities, and future career paths, to maintain and increase their employability. Second, I-deals have both benefits and downsides, and the concept of employability informs why this is so. Employability is, but does not need to be an outcome of I-deal making, since such deals can also be made to solve specific problems (e.g. flexible hours to enable care giving). In such cases, I-deals potentially may decrease future employability. Understanding potential downsides to the creation and maintenance of I-deals is critical to optimizing the use of I-deals for employee well-being and organizational success. In the proposed small group meeting, we will bring together researchers as well as practitioners with a high interest in research on I-deals and/or employability. Researchers will present their work and discuss informally about possible integration of the two domains in future research. Mel Fugate, a well-known employability researcher, and Denise Rousseau, originator of the concept of I-deals, will be our key-note speakers. We aim at 30 participants (20 researchers and 10 practitioners).