Changing Nature Of Work And Family Conflict Social Work Essay
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There are past literature reviews related to work and family conflict, but hardly any review which gives a quick overview of work and family research in global context. This paper outlines both the positive and negative outcomes associated with work and family interface, theoretical models related to work and family research, antecedents and consequences of work and family interface, importance of topics in work and family study and future implications of work and family interface.
In the 21st century it is a challenge for many working families to maintain a balance between work and family. The increased participation of married women in the labour force has led to a growing realization that work and family domains are highly interdependent. Duxbury and Higgins (1991) reported that due to the increasing prevalence of dual bread-winner families and single working parents, workers are facing more challenges in meeting the demands of work and family. Issues of work and family have always been a part of our life. Lopata and Norr (1980) suggest that work and family issues have gained greater importance because the stereotypic life-course pattern is changing and more flexible options are available. Killien, Habermann, and Jarrett (2001) reported that in more than 50% of all married couples in United States of America, both partners work outside the home. In the western and dual earner couples are the norm today, representing 54% of married couples in the U.S. in 2001 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).
The interference of the home and work domain has been identified as one of the ten major stressors in the work place (Kelloway, Gottlieb, & Barham, 1999). The spillover from work and family can be negative or positive and is bi-directional; it involves the transfer of mood and behaviour from one domain (home or workplace) to the other (Almeida, Wethington, & Chandler, 1999; Bromet, Dew, & Parkinson, 1990). Work can be very important and can have positive effects for people (e.g. Rothbard, 2001). A balanced life can give multiple sources of satisfaction (Baruch & Barnett, 1893), and can provide many people with social support, opportunities for increased self-efficacy and an expanded frame of reference (Barnett & Hyde, 2001). If the workers are unable to make the balance between work and family roles, the potential for conflict between the roles increases (Frone, Russell, & Cooper, 1992a; Greenhaus & Powell, 2003). Work and family conflict is emerging as a research topic because there have been significant changes in the social conceptions of gender, parenthood and work identity (Beach, 1989).
Work and Family from the Conflict and Balance Perspective
Voydanoff (2004b) reported that work and family conflict and work family balance are independent constructs rather than opposite ends of a single continuum. Work and family conflict is based on the principle of scarcity theory. The scarcity theory of human energy assumes that personal resources of time, energy, and attention are fixed. The scarcity hypothesis also suggests that the multiple roles inevitably reduce the time and energy available to meet all role demands, thus creating strain (Goode, 1960) and work-family conflict (Marks, 1977). Work and family conflict has been defined as 'a form of interrole conflict in which role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect' (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985, p.77; Greenhaus & Powell, 2003). Work and family conflict occurs when the demands of work are in disharmony with the demands of family (Bruck, Allen & Spector, 2002). Boundaries of work and family are asymmetrically permeable, such that work interferes with family life and family life interferes with work (Eagel, Miles & Icenogle, 1997; Frone, Russell & Cooper, 1992b). The incompatibilities between the two roles are based on the three different forms of work and home conflict: time based, strain based and behaviour based (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). Time based conflict occurs when the time demanded by the family puts pressure on work and the time demanded at work take away from spending quality time with the family. Parasuraman, Purohit, Godshalk, and Beutell (1996) hypothesized that commitments of time represent an important cause of work and family conflict (WFC). This hypothesis is based on the view that time is a limited resource. If a person devotes his time to a given role e.g. work, the less time that person has to meet the family role. Strain based conflict occur when stress from one domain shifts to another domain. Bartolome and Evans (1979) explained strain based conflict as the extent to which an individual preoccupied with one role (e.g. family) stressed someone attempting to meet the demands of another role (e.g. work). Behaviour based conflict occurs when behaviour makes it difficult to fulfil the requirements in another role. Behaviour based conflict refers to the display of specific behaviors in one domain that are incongruous with desired behaviors within the second domain, where norms and role expectations in one area of life are in- compatible with those required in the other domain (O' Driscoll, Brough, & Kalliath, 2006, p. 118). Several researchers acknowledge that the direction of conflict is an essential element and that both work-to- family and family-to-work conflict need to be identified (e.g., Frone, Russell, & Cooper, 1997; Higgins & Duxbury, 1992). WFC was originally operationalized as an uni-dimensional construct (Kopelman, Greenhaus, & Connolly, 1983). The recent studies by Carlson, Kacmar, and Williams (2000) and Frone et al. (1992, 1997) have explained that work family conflict is a multidimentional concept work can interfere family; (WIF) as well as family can interfere work; (FIW). Frone (2003) reported a four dimensional model of work-family balance, that is direction of influence between work and family roles (i.e. work-to-family and family to work) and type of effect (conflict versus facilitation). The studies by Aryee, Luk, Leung and Lo (1999); Frone, (2003); Netemeyer, Boles and McMurrian (1996) and Williams and Alliger, (1994) reported that the prevalence of WIF conflict is greater than FIW conflict. A study by Roehling, Moen, and Batt (2003) reported that family life enhances work life to a greater degree than work life enhances family life.
Marks (1977) (also see Sieber, 1974) proposed a theoretical alternative to the scarcity theory, which he called the role expansion theory. The role expansion theory Marks proposed assumed that human energy is abundant and participation in one role could also have a positive effect on the other role. The potential benefits of engaging in both work and family roles have largely been overlooked (Brockwood, Hammer, & Neal, 2003; Hanson, Colton, & Hammer, 2003). The terms 'work and family enrichment', 'positive spillover', 'work and family enhancement' and 'work and family facilitation' are used for the positive relationship between work and family. Work and family facilitation is a form of synergy in which resources associated with one role enhance or make participation in the other role easier (Voydanoff, 2004a). Better functioning of both work and family adds a more positive look at the interaction between work and home, allowing for the possibility of synergy between work and home (Zedeck, 1992). O'Driscoll (1996) examined the processes of role enhancement where multiple roles energize the individuals and give them more satisfaction in work and family roles. In addition, employees today are more likely to express a strong desire to have a harmonious balance between work and family (Offermann & Gowing, 1990; Zedeck & Mosier, 1990).
Barnett and Hyde (2001) also proposed an expansionist theory of work and family and they explained several benefits of combining multiple roles. They stated that multiple roles give benefits such as added income, more sources of social support, greater self complexity and more shared experiences between men and women. The success in one role can buffer failure in another role. The idea of an interaction between work and family comes from statistical models where two effects combine to provide something that is greater than would have been predicted from either one alone ( Halpern & Murphy, 2005, p. 4). Research has also found a modest positive correlation between work and family commitment (Marks & MacDermid, 1996).
The exchange theory of Pittman (1994) defines work-family fit as "an assessment of the balance between the spheres and may be considered the acceptability to the multidimensional exchange between a family and work organization" (p. 135). Pittman referred to work-family fit as an assessment of balance between work and family. There are many empirical studies that have abundantly examined work-home conflict, whereas there have been fewer studies on positive work-home interaction (Geurts & Demerouti, 2003). At the same time, there are few instruments available to measure work and family balance than work and family conflict (Carlson, Kacmar, Wayne, & Grzywacz, 2006). Later in this paper I discuss work and family from the scarcity theory perspective in more detail.
Theoretical Models related to Work and Family Research
Researchers have proposed a several ways in which the work and family domains may be linked (Edwards & Rothbard, 2000; Lambert, 1990). Earlier work and family research were based on three popular hypotheses (Cohen, 1997): segregation (segmentation), compensation, and spillover. Segregation refers to the separation of work and family in which there is no systematic connection between work and family roles (Edwards & Rothbard, 2000). Segregation also refers to the separation of work and family from the psychological, physical, temporal and functional point of view, and suggests that this is the best way to keep a boundary between work and family (Lambert, 1990). Compensation refers to the negative relationship between the work and family role. If a person is dissatisfied in one role of life, it offsets satisfaction in another (Burke & Greenglass, 1987). Spillover can be seen in terms of work and family mood, value, skills, and behavior spillover. The spillover model of work and family refers to the "positive and negative feelings, attitudes and behaviors that might emerge in one domain and are carried over into the other" (Googins, 1991, p. 9). Kabanoff and O' Brien (1980) have expanded the spillover and compensation hypothesis by analyzing the work and family activities in five dimensions (autonomy, variety, skill utilization, pressure and social interaction).
A comprehensive model of the work-family interface was developed and tested by Frone et al. (1992a). This model introduced a major change in the theories of work and family conflict. The model extended prior research by explicitly distinguishing between work interfering with family and family interfering with work. This distinction allowed testing of hypothesis concerning the unique antecedents and outcomes of both forms of work-family conflict and the reciprocal relationship between them.
Frone et al. (1997) developed an integrative model of the work-family interface. This model extends prior work by Frone et al. (1992a). Although this present model adopts the distinction between WIF and FIW, several important changes have been incorporated. First, a more explicit attempt is made to model the reciprocal (i.e., feedback) relations between work and family life. Second, a distinction is drawn between proximal and distal predictors of work-family conflict. Third, the relations between work-family conflict and role related affect have been differentiated into predictive and outcome relations. Finally, role related behavior and behavioral intentions have been explicitly incorporated into the model.
Bronfenbrenner (1989) developed an ecological systems theory which stands in contrast to the individual, deterministic perspective of the structural-functionalist role theory. The ecological systems theory suggests that the work-family experience is a joint function of process, person, context and time characteristics. Ecological theory suggests that each type of characteristic exerts an additive, and potentially interactive, effect on the work-family experience. Researchers have used this framework to guide the study of work-family conflict (e.g., Grzywacz, 2000; Hammer, Bauer, & Grandey, 2003; Voydanoff, 2002). From the perspective of ecological systems theory, work, community and family are microsystems consisting of networks of face-to-face relationships (Bronfenbrenner, 1989). When two or more microsystems are interrelated, such as work, family and community, the processes connecting them form two types of mesosystems. In one way, we can find direct relationships within one or more microsystems. The relationship within the work, family and community may be positive or negative, unidirectional or reciprocal. From another perspective, we can see the combined effect of these microsystems on individual, community and work outcomes. Grzywacz and Marks (2000) examined the work and family interface using the ecological systems theory. They found four dimensions in the experience of the work and family interface: negative work-to-family spillover, negative family to work spillover, positive work to family spillover and positive family to work spillover. Also, they reported that the ecological resources at work (i.e. decision latitude, co-worker and supervisor support) and family (i.e. spouse and family support) were associated with lower levels of negative spillover and higher level of positive work-family spillover. They also found that ecological barriers at work (i.e. work pressure) and family (i.e. spouse disagreement and family criticism burden) was associated with higher levels of negative work-family spillover.
Senecal, Vallerand and Guay (2001) proposed and tested a model of work-family conflict based on the Self-Determination Theory and the Hierarchical Model of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. Individuals who perform an activity out of choice and pleasure regulate their behaviour in a self-determined manner. Individuals also do activities out of internal and external pressures, which regulate their behavior in a non-self-determined way (Deci & Ryan, 1985; 1991). The model posits that positive interpersonal factors both at work (i.e. one's employer) and at home (e.g. one's spouse) influence work and family motivation. But low levels of self-determined motivation towards the two life contexts (work and family) facilitate the experience of family alienation, which leads to work-family conflict. Finally, work-family conflict leads to feelings of emotional exhaustion. Results from structural equation modeling supported this model. Although the model was supported by data from both men and women, some sex differences were uncovered at the mean level.
Voydanoff (2002) proposed a conceptual model that links the work-family interface to work, family and individual outcomes through several mediating mechanisms. First, the work-family interface is related to a cognitive assessment of work and family conflict, role balance or role enhancement. This relationship may be moderated by social categories and coping resources. The assessment of conflict, balance or enhancement can result in either work-family role strain or work-family role ease. Then, depending on the extent of strain or ease, individuals and families pursue various work-family adaptive strategies designed to improve or facilitate adjustment to various aspects of work and family interface. The success of these strategies is indicated by the extent of perceived work-family fit. Work-family fit is related directly to work, family and individual outcomes. Lastly, work-family adaptive strategies are proposed as having feedback effects on the work family interface.
Boundary theory (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000; Nippert-Eng, 1996) and Border theory (Clark, 2000; Michelson & Johnson, 1997) state that each one of a person's roles takes place within a specific domain of life, and these that domains are separated by borders that may be physical, temporal, or psychological (Ashforth et al. 2000; Clark, 2000). Boundary/border theory specifically addresses the issue of "crossing borders" between domains. Although this theory is relevant to all domains of life, its most common application is to the domains of home and work. According to the boundary/border theory, the flexibility and permeability of the boundaries between people's work and family lives will affect the level of integration, the ease of transitions, and the level of conflict between these domains (Ashforth et al. 2000; Clark, 2000; Nippert-Eng, 1996).
Loy and Frenkel (2005) present societal cultural models of work and family. They explained that societal cultures vary by race, ethnicity, social class, and region. They explained that although the number of dual-earner families has risen in all industrialized nations countries, the families vary in the ways they address work-family conflict, in part, due to differences in societal cultures. Recognizing the importance of cultural models of gender, work and family has consequences for the construction of states and organizational policies.
Hobfoll (1989) developed the conservation of resources ("COR") model. According to this model individuals seek to acquire and maintain resources including objects, personal characteristics, conditions and energies. Stress occurs when there is a loss of resources or a threat of loss. The COR model proposes that work and family conflict leads to stress because resources (e.g., time and energy) "are lost in the process of juggling both work and family roles" p. 352). Grandey and Cropanzano (1999) argue that the conservation of resources model is an improvement over role theory. Until recently, work and family researchers have relied mainly upon role theory (Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964). According to the COR model role theory has some limitations because it has paid less attention to family roles. On the other hand, the COR model encompasses several stress theories, and explains stress outcomes for both intra and interrole stress. The individual difference variables in stress patterns are also included in the COR model and treated as resources. Finally, the COR model also provides an additional insight that has not been widely considered in WFC literature. The model has emphasis on threatened resources and suggests that certain critical events are the source of stress as well. The Grandey and Cropanzano (1999) study is the only study which has tested the application of the COR model to work and family research.
An extensive body of research is based on theories of role strain and role enhancement and addresses the effects of performing multiple roles (in the family and the work place). According to role theorists, a role is a set of activities or behaviors that others expect an individual to perform (Kahn et al. 1964). Thus, an increase in roles gives rise to an increase in role conflict. Role stress theory proposes that the greater the role accumulation, the greater the demands and role incompatibility and the greater the role conflict and strain (Burr, Leigh, Day, & Constantine, 1979; Goode, 1960). Role conflict is defined as the "simultaneous occurrence of two (or more) sets of role pressures such that compliance with one would make more difficult the compliance with the other" (Kahn et al. 1964, p. 19). At the same time a number of empirical studies support role enhancement theory (e.g., Barnet and Hyde, 2001; Waldron, Weiss, & Sieber, 1974).
After the development of all the above-mentioned models in work and family, Carlson et al. (2000) proposed a six-dimensional model of work and family conflict. Their model include three forms of conflict (time based, strain based and behavior based conflict) and two directions of conflict (WIF and FIW) which results in a six-dimensional model of work and family conflict (see figure 1).
Figure1. (Source: Carlson, Kacmar, & Williams, 2000, p. 251). Explain the model describe
Antecedents and Consequences of Work and Family
Jacobs and Gerson (2001) reported that the vast increase in working mothers, single parents and dual earner couples means that more workers than ever are attempting to balance work and family life. As a result, the majority of working parents feel that they have a shortage of time to fulfill their multiple life roles (Hochschild, 1997). Researchers have considered a number of different variables as possible antecedents of WIF and FIW. Consistent with the classification scheme of Eby, Casper, Lockwood, Bordeaux, and Brinley (2005) regarding antecedents of work-family conflict, antecedents can be classified into three categories: work domain variables, non-work domain variables, and individual and demographic variables.
Work domain variables and work and family conflict
There are more studies examining the work domain as predictors of WFC than the family domain as predictors of FWC. WIF interaction has been given more research attention than that given to FIW interaction (Eagle, Miles, & Icenogle, 1997; Higgins & Duxbury, 1992). Job demands, job control and social support were the most discussed antecedents of work. The Job Demand- Control (JDC) model reported two crucial job aspects in the work situation: job demands and job control (Karasek, 1979). In the 1980s, a social dimension was added to this model and called job demand-control and support (JDCS) model. Job demands refer to the work load, and have been operationalized mainly in terms of time pressure and role conflict (Karasek, 1985). The central component of job demand is the task's mental workload and the mental alertness or arousal needed to carry out the task. Three types of job demands are included in this theory: time demands, monitoring demands and problem solving demands (Karasek & Theorell, 1990, p. 63). The job characteristics mentioned by the demands, control and support models have been reported in a number of work and family studies (e.g., Grzywacz & Butler, 2005; Grzywacz & Marks, 2000; O'Driscoll, Ilgen, & Hildreth, 1992; Pal & Saksvik, 2006; 2008). Employees who had higher job demand, lower job control and less social support were more likely to experience high levels of work-family conflict (Grzywacz & Marks, 2000; Pleck, Staines, & Lang, 1980). At the same time, there are many studies focused on working hours, long hours of work, long days and the relation to WFC (Carlson & Perrewe, 1999; Grzywacz & Marks, 2000; Keith & Schafer, 1980; Pleck, et al. 1980; Reich, 2000). A natural conclusion is that those who work long hours and days are not able to give time to the family. The average number of hours a couple worked in America in 1997 was ten hours a week more than the average couple in 1970 (Jacobs & Gerson, 1998). Toterdell, Spelten, Smith, Barton, and Folkard (1995) reported that employees who work in different shifts reported work and family conflict because shift work leads to sleep disturbance and interferes with social life. Demerouti, Geurts, Bakker and Euwema (2004), in a study on military police, reported that fixed non day shifts including weekends (i.e., during highly valuable times) should be avoided in order to minimize the conflict between work and family. Length and difficulties of the commute to and from work has also been shown to be related to WIF conflict (Bohen & Viveros-Long, 1981; Pleck et al. 1980). The relocation of work also gives rise to negative work and family consequences (Munton, 1990). Management support and recognition (Burke, 1988; Love, Galinsky, & Hughes, 1987), the levels of work role assigned to work roles (Greenhaus and Kopelman, 1981; Greenhaus and Parasuraman, 1987), role overload at work (Bacharach et al., 1991), and individuals highly involved in work (Frone et al. 1992a; Greenhaus, Parasuraman, Granrose, Rabinowitz & Beutell, 1989; Hammer, Allen, & Grigsby, 1997) are also important factors related to WIF conflict. Job insecurity or concern over losing one's job is a strain based demand that threatens the economic well-being necessary for the stability and quality of family life. The stress associated with job insecurity reduces interpersonal availability and limits effective participation in family life. One study reported that job insecurity is positively related to WFC for men and women (Batt & Valcour, 2003), whereas another study found this relationship for women but not for men (Kinnunen & Mauno, 1998). Several studies also reported a significant relationship between WFC and job satisfaction (Coverman, 1989; Rice, Frone, & Mcfarlin, 1992).
Organizational commitment is another work-related variable that has been studied in association with WFC. Netemeyer et al. (1996); Good et al., (1998) and O'Driscoll et al. (1992) found that as WFC increases, the organizational commitment decreases. Greater levels of WFC are associated with increased intentions to leave the organization (Grandey & Cropanzano, 1999; Good et al. 1988). Wayne, Musica and Fleeson (2004) and Grandey, Cordeiro, and Crouter (2005) proposed that attributing the source of the work and family conflict to the work domain is associated with reduced satisfaction with the work role, whereas attributing it to the family domain contributes to lower marital quality.
Research suggests that a supportive organizational culture, supervisor, or mentor is generally beneficial in reducing WFC. Several studies have found that work support (Carlson & Perrewe, 1999; Greenhaus et al. 1987; Thompson, Beauvais, & Lyness, 1999), the availability of work-family benefits (Thompson et al., 1999), having a mentor (Nielson et al. 2001), receiving more role modeling and overall mentor support (Nielson et al. 2001), and having a mentor who was perceived as having similar work-family values (Nielson et al., 2001) are related to less WFC. At the same time, job satisfaction buffers the relationship between hours spent helping parents and psychological distress for mothers (Voydanoff & Donnelly, 1999). Having a flexible work schedules is ranked as the most valuable benefit option for employees (Allen, 2001).
Family domain variables and family and work conflict
Numerous studies have examined characteristics of the family domain as predictors of WFC and family involvement as adversely influenced by work-related concerns (Burke & Greenglass, 1987). Research into WIF conflict and FIW conflict antecedents in the family domain has found positive linkages between WIF conflict and FIW conflict and marital status (Herman & Gyllstrom, 1977), size and developmental stage of the family (Herman & Gyllstrom, 1977; Keith & Schafer, 1980), level of importance assigned to family roles (Greenhaus & Parasuraman, 1987), family stressors (parental workload, extent of children's misbehavior, lack of spouse support, and the degree of tension in the marital relationship) and family involvement (Frone et al. 1992a). Negative relationships were found between WIF conflict and spouse and family support (Bruke, 1988; Greenhaus & Kopelman, 1981). Indeed, Suchet and Barling (1986) found evidence for spouse support as a moderator of WIF. A study by Higgins and Duxbury (1992) which revealed that males in dual career couples (that is, male breadwinner and fulltime housewife) found WFC related to life satisfaction. Studies by Bedeian, Burke and Moffett (1988); Greenhaus, Bedeian and Mossholder (1987), and Parasuraman et al. (1989) found that WFC was strongly related to quality of life. Some studies that take into account the bi-directional nature of work-home interferences suggest that home characteristics are more likely to foster home-work interference. For example, Frone et al. (1992a) have shown that whereas job stressors were positively related to work 'work interferes with family', family stressors (e.g. parental workload and lack of spouse support) were positively related to 'family interfering with work'. They even argue that the positive relationships between family stressors and WHI suggested and documented in previous research (e.g. Burke, 1988; Kopelman et al. 1983; Voydanoff, 1988) are, in fact, indirect relationships through 'family interferes with work'.
Individual and demographic variables
Gender, marital status and age are frequently described as the most important demographic characteristics influencing work and family. Byron (2005) found that demographic variables tend were weak predictors of WIF and FIW; although they did tended to have indirect effects on WIF and FIW. This coincides with recent theory that supports the use of social categories as moderators in the work-family literature (Voydanoff, 2002). In general, being male appears to exacerbate any negative effects of family domain antecedents, such as family stress, family conflict, number of children, and marital status, related to work-family conflict. Paradoxically, females tend to enjoy greater protective benefits from those antecedents, such as flexible work schedules, and, to some extent supportive families, which lessen the experience of interferences.
One's life stages also influence work and family conflict (Barnett, Gareis, James, & Steele, 2003). A study by Burke and Greenglass (1999) found that age is positively related to work-family conflict. Grazywacs and Marks (2000) examined the effects of age on the experience of positive and negative work and family interaction. They found that young men reported more negative spillover between work and family and less positive spillover between family to work than older men, while younger women reported more positive spillover from work to family, and more negative spillover from family to work than did older women.
Personality should also be given greater consideration in understanding how an individual views and experience multiple life roles (Carlson, 1999; Wayne et al. 2004). Friede and Ryan (2005) discuss the role of personality in interpreting work and family. Behavior based conflict is also linked to the personality of an individual and is one of the main predictors of WFC. Carlson (1999) reported that it occurs when there is incompatibility between the behaviors at either the work place or the home. Personality can influence the actual type and amount of work and family role requirements that an individual experiences his or her, perception of work and family role requirements and the approach to work and family interface.
There is the need for a greater recognition of individual differences in work and family theorizing. Some may ignore this because of a concern that focusing on individual differences, such as personality, is not a key influence of work and family conflict and work and family enhancement. But this may lead to viewing problems in work and life balancing as individual responsibility, with little or no accountability on the part of the firm or of societal institutions (Friede & Ryan, 2005, p. 204). Emotional stability (Kinnunen, Vermulst, Gerris, & Makikangas, 2003) and self esteem (Greenhaus & Powell, 2003) are also linked to the work-family conflict. Finally, researchers discovered that interpersonal attachment styles (Sumer & Knight, 2001), and psychological involvement in work and family roles (Adams, King, & King, 1996; Frone et al. 1992a) are linked to work and family conflict.
Importance research Topics in Work and Family Study
Gender and work-family interface- Gender refers to the set of culturally expected personality, behavior, and attitude attributes associated with being male or female in any given society. Much gendering takes place in the context of family, where the feminine social ideals are what makes a "good mother" or a "good daughter" or a "good wife," and the masculine social ideals are reflected in notions of the "ideal father" or the "ideal husband" (Simon, 1995). The literature on gender, work and family reveals that a gender difference is found when interpreting work and family. Women experience more work and family conflict than men. Hochschild (1989) reported that women typically spend more combined time on work and family activities than men. Grzywacz, Almeida, and McDonald (2002) examined relationships between education, gender, ethnicity, and the number of children under age 6 years of age in the household. They found that women reported higher levels of facilitation than men, whereas other demographic characteristics did not show statistically significant relationships with facilitation. The study by Bond, Galinsky and Swanberg (1998) on gender and WFC reported that women with traditional gender role attitude reported more work and family conflict than women with less traditional attitudes. Among dual earner couples, women experience higher level of work and family conflict than men, particularly when they are responsible for young children (Marshall & Barnett, 1993; Roehling, Moen, & Batt, 2003). Now it seems that there are new theoretical facets in gender, work and family research. Most of the studies indicate that men and women experience a similar level of work and family conflict (Bedeian, Bruke, & Moffett, 1998; Duxbury & Higgins, 1991; Frone & Rice, 1987; Kinnunen & Mauno, 1998; Kinnunen, Geurts, & Mauno, 2004). A cross cultural study by Pal and Saksvik (2006) reported no gender difference among Norwegian and Indian doctors and nurses in interpreting work and family.
Flexible work arrangements and work family interface - flexible work arrangements have been important for work-family studies because work and family demand is a significant cause of interrole conflict, as defined by Greenhaus and Beutell (1985). Working hours are becoming longer for many people. In a national survey in Britain, 42% of employees reported that they always or often leave the workplace in a state of exhaustion, and a further 48% said they sometimes do so (social "Trends", 1999). Long working hours are also related to stress-related illness (Sparks, Cooper, Fried, & Shirom, 1997).The rise in long working hours has been growing among members of dual earner and especially professional dual-career families, and time pressure from work are particularly intense during the life cycle stage that includes the child rearing years (Brannen & Moss, 1998). Several studies assumed there will be a link between long work hours and negative outcomes. In the last few years there has been a big change in the research on line working hours and its negative outcomes. The studies by Hyde, DeLamater, and Durik (1998) and Pal and Saksvik, (2006) found no negative outcomes between long work hours and WFC.
Absenteeism and work family interface- WFC has been related to important individual and organizational outcomes, such as absenteeism (Goff, Mount, & Jamish, 1990; MacEwen & Barling, 1994). Cousins and Tang (2004) compared the working time flexibility and work family conflict in the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. They found that the experience of balancing work and family life in the different countries yield some surprising and paradoxical result. In the Netherlands and Sweden there is statutory norm of 40 hours per week for male workers. In the UK, there is much less of a peak at 40 hours, instead, the dominant pattern is that of 'short hours for women and long-hours for men'. Further, it is noticeable that one third of men and two fifths of the fathers in UK work more than the threshold of 48 hours per week specified in the applicable EU working time directive.
Psychosocial work environment and work and family interface- The psychosocial work environment refers to job demands, job control and work place social support. Several empirical studies support the assumption that job demands and lack of work place social support create negative impact on work and family (Geurts et al. 1999; Hughes, Zalinsky, & Morris, 1992). There are few studies which focus on the cultural differences in interpreting the psychosocial work environment and WFC (e.g., Janssen, Peeters, de Jonge, Houkes, & Tummers, 2004; Pal & Saksvik, 2006). There is a need of more culture-and-profession-specific research on the psychosocial work environment and WFC. At the same time, we can think about the support people get from family and how it helps in reducing work and family conflict. The study of Parasuraman, Singh and Greenhaus (1997) reported that supportive family members allow individuals to work longer hours and avail themselves of more career development opportunities.
Cross-cultural perspective and work and family interface- In the 21st century studying work and family conflict from a cross cultural perspective is increasingly important. Hofstede (1980) explained that individuals in different cultures have been found to hold different values, beliefs and social expectations. Yang, Chen, Choi, and Zou (2000) gave a good example of how collectivistic cultures and people from individualistic culture view work and family. They compared American and Chinese samples and reported that American employees experience greater family demands than the Chinese employees. The family demand had greater impact on work-family conflict in the United States than in China, whereas work demand had a greater impact on work-family conflict in China than in the United States. They also found that sacrificing family time for work in China is viewed as self-sacrifice for the benefit of the family or as a short term cost incurred to gain long term benefits, however in the United States sacrificing family time for work is often perceived as a failure to care for significant others in one's life (Yang et al. 2000, p. 120). People from collectivistic cultures may view work primarily in terms of securing family well-being while people from individualistic cultures may view work to be one of the main sources of self -actualization (Yang et al. 2000).
Future Directions for Work-Family Research
Most of the work-family research predicted work-family conflict (Barnett, 1996). However, now is the time to think more about work family balance and how to better balance work and family life for dual earner couples. Most past research reported that work and family facilitation is just simply the absence of work and family conflict. But the findings of Grzywacz and Marks (2000) gave a new direction to the work and family facilitation research by stating that it is important to study both the advantages and the disadvantages of work and family roles. Also, little attention has been placed on developing or testing theoretical models of the work-family interface (Kanungo & Misra, 1984; Voydanoff, 1988; Zedeck, 1992). More common are studies that rely on previous research findings to develop hypotheses or discuss various theories to frame study predictions without actually testing specific theories or articulating why particular relationship are expected based on theories.
Research on the interconnections among work, community, and family is still in its early stages. We can know more about work and family interface by adding community as a context for work-family role coordination. Communities may both help and hinder the efforts of work organizations, families, and individuals to enhance work-family integration.
More research on work-family policies is needed to make employees aware of their work environments and their benefits. Eaton (2003) found that the perception of the availability of work/family policies is even more important than the presence of formal or informal policies for the desired outcomes of commitment and productivity. At the same time, an organization may intend to structure and define policies that will assist work/family balance. Compared to other industrialized nations, the United States has quite meager public policies and programs for working families and a relatively well-developed set of employer-based benefits for working families (Kelly, 2006, p. 99). A cross-cultural study on state, family and work life articulation by Crompton (2006) that compared dual earner couples work and family conflict, samples were taken in Britain, US, Finland, Norway, France and Portugal. The two Scandinavian countries (Norway and Finland) reported significantly lower mean levels of work-life conflict. This finding suggests that supportive state policies may indeed be 'making a difference' as far as the combination of employment and family life is concerned (Crompton, 2006, p. 132). Other countries can learn from work and family policies in the above-mentioned two Scandinavian welfare states. More cross-cultural research is needed in work- family situations to know the advantages and disadvantages of different work family policies in different countries. This will help in the implementation of better work and family policies. Perlow (2001) used samples of software engineers from the US, China, India and Hungry working for the same multi-national firms. She wanted to illustrate the national differences in organizational practice. While the software engineers in the U.S. worked very long hours, this was not the same in the other three nations. She found significant variation in work-time standards and norms. Poelmans, Allen, Spector, O'Driscoll, Copper, and Sanchez (2003) reported the importance of cross-cultural and cross-national studies in work and family interface. They reported how family and societal differences related to work and family conflict. More specifically, they found that individualism/collectivism and the presence of family-supportive government policies moderated relationships between demands, resources and work and family conflict.
Countries differ in the way they think about work and family (Feldman, Masalha, & Nadam, 2001; Knudsen & Waerness, 2001). In cross cultural research, cultures are often reported in relation to the countries as a whole (e.g., Hofstede, 1984; Triandis, 1995). But in many countries, such as Israel and in the Arab world, there can be diverse ethnic groups within each country (Cohen & Kirchmeyer, 2005, p. 542). In this situation, it is difficult to report about culture in relation to countries because various cultural groups may have different role expectations. It would be quite interesting if future research would focus on work and family interface between the different cultural groups in a country.
In my view, WFC needs to be thought of within the context of the job the person is holding and how much time and energy a person needs for his or her work life. For instance the work and family conflict for a teacher and for a doctor will be different, especially as teachers usually work in a fixed schedule and some doctors work in an emergency service. We should not limit ourselves to looking only at work-related factors. The FWC also needs to be thought of by considering whether the employees belong to a nuclear or joint family background, whether they get support from a close family and friends or not. Finally, when we take into consideration the demographic status of an employee, the word gender immediately comes to mind. Many factors such as the age of the employee, number of children, age of the youngest children, and economic status of the family are ignored or under-researched. In conclusion, I want to say that more research is needed that looks at the positive factors of work and family system within the context of different cultures and different countries. So, in future the quality of work and family life can be further improved.
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