One of the most pervasive trends in contemporary South African business is the substitution of alternative work forms for full-time, permanent employment. Part-time work and external contracting are used extensively by firms, ostensibly to adjust to altering work conditions. However, relatively little is understood about the process, context and contingencies of these substitutions. The present research focuses on work allocation in the little researched 'creative industries', involving sectors such as audio-visual, design, craft and heritage. Our preliminary cross-sectional analysis of firm-level data illustrates some possible environmental drivers and contexts for the relative switching between full-time, part-time and contracted labour. These include interactions between firm financial growth, employment growth or shrinkage, workforce experience, skills and capital intensity, and age of firm. Conclusions and directions for research and policy are suggested.