Skip to main content

About this book

With contributions from thirty authors from fifteen countries, this is a 'white book' for international work-family research and practice. The authors offer a bold look at the future and provide guidelines for future research, focusing on applied, international work-family research.

Table of Contents


Work-Life Policies and Flexible Work Arrangements in Organizations


1. Work-Life Policies: Linking National Contexts, Organizational Practice and People for Multi-level Change

A growing area of societal concern across the globe pertains to familyresponsive employment policies and practices that are designed to improve individuals’ ability to effectively carry out work and family demands over the career span (Kamerman, 2005a). Work-family policies and practices are adopted by employers and governments to help employees jointly manage work and non-work roles; enable successful participation in labour market activity, family and personal life; and enhance quality of life (Kossek, 2005, 2006). They are ostensibly designed to reduce work-family conflicts, and foster positive engagement in work, family and personal life over a career. These policies facilitate employees’ involvement in care-giving for children, elders, or other family members; and many non-work pursuits such as education, volunteering, leisure and self-care (health, exercise) (Ollier-Malaterre, 2009; Ryan & Kossek, 2008). Common policies include flexible work arrangements providing: control over the time, timing, continuity and amount of work; direct dependent care supports, such as child and elder care services and employee assistance plans; and information and social support for managing work-family stress and health, such as network groups and seminars (Kossek & Friede, 2006).
Ellen Ernst Kossek, Ariane Ollier-Malaterre

2. Do Work-Family Policies Really “Work”? Evidence from Indian Call Centres

Within western liberal market economies, organizations have increasingly begun to develop “work—life initiatives” to help workers integrate their work and family lives (Kossek and Lambert 2005). Employers can provide work—family policies for multiple reasons: to improve business efficiency (Rapoport et al. 2002); to attract, recruit and retain employees (Carless and Wintle 2007) and to promote gender equality in the workplace (Dreher 2003). There has been an increasing awareness, however, that work—life policies alone are insufficient without a concomitant change in organizational culture (Allen 2001; Lewis 1997; Thomas and Ganster 1995; Thompson et al. 1999). While this is a progressive step, examination of “culture” at only the organizational level can often subvert attention from national contexts, which may support or hinder organizational practices (Haas and Hwang 2007; Kossek et al. 2010). Further, globalization and increasing mobility of capital and labour have made the international context even more important.
Sweta Raian-Rankin, Mark Tomlinson

Work-Life Culture and Practices in Organizations


3. Deconstructing “Family Supportive Cultures”: A Vision for the Future

Most research on work and family has been conducted in liberal market economies where the integration of paid work and personal roles is considered primarily a private matter. In these contexts work—life support is dependent on market forces, rather than being viewed as a public concern requiring government regulation (although in the UK this is tempered to some extent by European Union requirements). Consequently the focus has been on “family supportive organizations” to a greater extent than family supportive cultures and societies. Nevertheless the study of family supportive organizational cultures remains important for the field of work—life research more broadly, because even in more family supportive national contexts, public policies have to be implemented at the workplace level where culture and management support also matter and, increasingly, global forces intersect with national cultures.
Susan Lewis, Sweta Rajan-Rankin

4. Organizational Subcultures and Family Supportive Culture in a Spanish Organization

The importance of context in work-family research is often overlooked (Powell et al., 2009). Work-family issues do not occur in a vacuum but rather within specific layers of context: national, organizational, work group and family. State provisions for work and family life can potentially offer both men and women a wider choice of options for combining employment and parenting. However, much of the research on work-family issues has been undertaken in the USA, where government support is minimal (Kossek et al., 2010). Therefore, it may not reflect the European situation characterized by a variety of state provisions and where policy availability and legal reinforcement can differ considerably even in neighbouring countries (Poelmans & Sahibzada, 2004).
Olena Stepanova

Personal and Professional Careers and Talent Management


5. Work-Family Research and Practice: What if the Whole Person Mattered?

The task of reconciling the roles of work and family life has been like the Middle East of the field of management and organizational behaviour — the issues seem to be perennial and intractable. Although we do not claim to have the answer to work—life peace, we would like to examine a lens for viewing the terrain that we see as having some potential: looking at the issues in terms of the whole person. What if we took the whole person seriously?
Elana R. Feldman, Douglas T. Hall

6. Effects of Gender and Family on Earnings and Career Paths: A Cross-Cultural Study of Europe, the USA and Japan

This study takes a cross-cultural approach to the examination of gender-based pay differentials and career paths, particularly comparing Europe, the USA and Japan. Results indicate that despite increased participation of women in the workforce and their substantial inroads into managerial and professional jobs, gender-based pay gaps persist across borders. However, patterns of the work—family relationship and the impact of gender on earnings differ considerably among industrial societies. Data show that the magnitude of gender-based pay differentials is unrelated to a country’s degree of economic development among the Western industrial societies. Factors that influence pay equity and career paths range from contextual and organizational variables such as cultural norms, types of welfare state regimes and corporate practices related to individual differences in gender, family, education and career choices. The “business case” argument for gender equity and family-friendly policies is linked to the national context. Cultural norms about gender roles and types of welfare state regimes pertaining to the role of the state in statutory provisions help explain trends and developments in gender-based pay adjustments and variations at the firm level. Gender pay gaps are likely to be larger — and to be narrowed more slowly — in masculinity-oriented societies than in femininity-oriented societies.
Nini Yang

Decision Making in a Work-Life Context


7. The Present and Future of Work-Family Decision Making

The systematic empirical study of judgement and decision making began to emerge as a discipline in its own right only in the 1960s. This occurred together with a strong surge of interest in the larger, more general field of cognitive psychology, which also includes the study of memory, thinking, problem solving, mental imagery and language (Arkes & Hammond, 1986). Decision making has been defined as “the mental processes (cognitive process) resulting in the selection of a course of action among several alternatives” (“Decision-making”, 2011, para. 2). The seminal work of Herbert Simon and James March (March, 1994; March & Simon, 1958; Simon, 1947, 1976) has propelled decision making into a broadly studied concept in the organizational behaviour and general management literature and has given rise to a separate academic discipline (behavioural decision science) and specialized journals (e.g., Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes). Nevertheless, studies linking decision making with the work—family interface were a relatively new phenomenon in 2005, the year in which the first International Conference of Work and Family (ICWF) was held. The absence of a decision-making perspective in the work—family literature is surprising in light of Kahn et al.’s (1964) well-established definition of inter-role conflict as a process by which individuals decide whether to comply with the demands of a particular role at a given point in time.
Steven Poelmans, Jeffrey H. Greenhaus, Olena Stepanova

8. Sex, Gender, and Decisions at the Family-Work Interface

What is the linkage between individuals’ sex and the interface between their work and family roles? The answer to this question is by no means straight-forward as gender roles, work roles, and family roles evolve. To address the question, we examine the influence of family-domain factors on work-domain decisions and their linkages to sex and gender. According to the logic of appropriateness, a theory of decision making, people develop and apply rules in decision-making situations that are consistent with their personal identities. We identify three broad types of decisions in the work domain — role entry, participation, and exit decisions — that may be influenced by factors in the family domain according to such rules. Next, we review the literature on the linkage between individuals’ sex and an example of each of these types of decisions: the role-entry decision about whether to start a business, the role-participation decision about the number of hours to devote to one’s job or business, and the role-exit decision about whether to quit a job. Our review suggests that (1) family-domain factors mediate effects of sex on work-domain decisions and (2) sex moderates relationships between family-domain factors and work-domain decisions. Based on the review, we offer a model of the linkages among sex, family-domain factors, and work-domain decisions that incorporates constructs from theories of the psychology of gender (femininity) and identity theories (family role salience). Finally, we offer guidelines for future theory and research to test and extend the model.
Gary N. Powell, Jeffrey H. Greenhaus

Coping and Strategies for Harmonizing Work and Life


9. New Directions in Work-Family Coping Research

A copious amount of research has been conducted on the antecedents and outcomes of work—family conflict. Research on coping with this conflict has been much more limited. This chapter provides an assessment of the work—family coping literature primarily through the lens of research presented at the International Conferences of Work and Family. In particular, we review the literature on individual work—family coping strategies and the agents involved in multiple role managing. While envisioning future work—family coping research, we offer a model rooted in the emerging idiosyncratic deals literature. The need for research on preventive coping and “non-rational” coping mechanisms is also discussed. Methodological recommendations for the future of work—family coping research are offered.
Debra A. Major, Heather M. Lauzun, Mahan P. Jones

10. Fairly Flexible: Preventing Perceptions of Unfairness in Enactment of Workplace Flexibility

Workplace flexibility — that is, individuals’ ability to affect when, where and how much they work — can be an effective approach to dealing with competing work and non-work demands (Bailyn, 1993; Johnson, Shannon, & Richman, 2008; Pitt-Catsouphes, Smyer, Matz-Costa, & Kane, 2007). As individuals attempt to enact flexibility, however, they encounter numerous challenges and obstacles (Bailyn, 1993; Barker, 1993; Blair-Loy & Wharton, 2002; Briscoe, 2007; Evans, Kunda, & Barley, 2004; Kelliher & Anderson, 2010; Kossek, Lewis, & Hammer, 2010; Lautsch, Kossek, & Eaton, 2009; Perlow, 1997, 1998; Powell & Greenhaus, 2006; Thompson, Beauvais, & Lyness, et al., 1999). This chapter adds to this emerging literature by studying concerns with fairness1 that also critically shape individuals’ coping with the competing demands of work, and life outside of work. When one person gets flexibility, another is likely to have to pick up the slack, be inconvenienced, or perceive that he or she has been somehow short-changed in comparison. Such concerns can limit individuals’ ability to manage the multitude of demands. Yet, many find ways to address fairness concerns while still enacting the desired flexibility. This chapter illuminates ways in which individuals do this and thus contributes to the theory of coping with work — non-work conflict, and provides practical ideas for those facing simultaneous work and non-work demands.
Špela Trefalt

Work-Life Facilitation and Enrichment


11. Issues in the Development of Research on Inter-role Enrichment

Despite Meissner’s (1971) lament about the “long arm of the job” and its detrimental effects on workers’ home lives, there is a substantial body of research findings, many of which have been reported at the ICWF conferences, supporting the notion that the nature of a job can also be positively related to employees’ well-being and their ability to integrate their work and family lives. Organizations have recognized the importance of work (characteristics) for individuals’ lives and they have started to respond by enriching jobs through providing resources in order to promote life-long learning and enhancement of their employees. This trend follows the spirit of our times in paying attention to individuals’ wishes and needs in designing their jobs in a very contemporary manner, with terms like job crafting, idiosyncratic deals and role adjustments (Grant & Parker, 2009).
Evangelia Demerouti, Inés Martinez Corts, Marina Boz

12. The Impact of Co-workers on Work-to-Family Enrichment and Organizational Outcomes

This research was conducted as part of a doctoral dissertation by the second author supervised by the first author. A previous version of this study was presented at the 3rd IESE International Conference on Work and Family, Barcelona, Spain, July 2009. We thank Evangelia Demerouti and Jeffrey Greenhaus for their valuable comments on this manuscript.
Karen Korabik, Melissa Warner

Special Section


13. Times are Changing: Gender and Generation at Work and at Home in the USA

Times are changing for Americans in the workplace and at home. The US workforce not only looks different today than it did three decades ago as a result of increased participation by women — but it is also different in more subtle, less visible ways. In this chapter, we identify emerging trends showing that women are, for the first time, on a par with men in their desire to advance to jobs with more responsibility, while converging gender roles at work and at home have left men experiencing more work-family conflict than women.
Ellen Galinsky, Kerstin Aumann, James T. Bond

14. Elucidating the Positive Side of the Work-Family Interface on International Assignments: A Model of Expatriate Work and Family Performance

International assignments are a catalyst for changes in both the family and work lives of expatriates. This is especially true for the majority of expatriates who are married or in a committed relationship (Copeland & Norell, 2002; Harvey, 1985; Tung, 1987, 1999). Before the assignment, both partners have full lives intertwined with those of relatives, friends, colleagues, and community contacts. Upon arriving in the new country, however, they only have each other and, for some, their children. It is not uncommon that both partners work and share household responsibilities before a posting abroad (Harvey, 1995; Harvey & Wiese, 1998a; Reynolds & Bennett, 1991). The assignment often disturbs this balance as the expatriate becomes the sole earner and provider for the family and the expatriate partner becomes a household caretaker and a stay-at-home parent, having not only lost a job but also foregone a career, financial independence, and extended family support. Partners, even those who have not been employed before the move, find themselves faced with new tasks and expectations (e.g., Linehan & Scullion, 2001; Pellico & Stroh, 1997; Punnett, 1997; Reynolds & Bennett, 1991; Riusala & Suutari, 2000). In cases where the expatriate couple has children, additional challenges arise, such as children’s anguish and uncertainty related to identity formation, break-up of friendships, and disruption of schooling (Borstorff, Harris, Feild & Giles, 1997; De Leon & McPartlin, 1995; Harvey, 1985).
Mila Lazarova, Mina Westman, Margaret Shaffer

15. Some Future Directions for Work-Family Research in a Global World

Since 2005 the International Center for Work and Family (ICWF) has hosted a biennial conference that has brought together work and family scholars from across the globe. These conferences have produced a wellspring of ideas and nurtured the development of many productive research collaborations. The papers represented in this volume help demonstrate the diversity of ideas that have been fertilized through these conferences. Collectively they make an important contribution to the work-family literature.
Tammy Allen


Additional information

Premium Partner

    Image Credits