Work-family Conflicts and Organizational Culture

Bachelor Thesis, 2016

31 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

1. Introduction
1.1 Relevance for Research and Practice
1.2 Research Question and Objectives

2. Theoretical Background
2.1 Definitions
2.1.1 Organizational Culture
2.1.2 Work-family Conflict
2.2 The Emergence of Work-family Conflicts

3. The Impact of Organizational Culture on Work-family Conflicts
3.1 The Current State of Research concerning Supportive Supervision
3.2 The Current State of Research concerning Flexible Work Arrangements
3.3 The Current State of Research concerning Variables possibly influencing the established Relationships

4. Discussion

5. Conclusion



List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

List of Figures

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1. Introduction

1.1 Relevance for Research and Practice

Over the last decades the research concerning the work-family interface has grown consistently (e.g. Greenhaus & Parasuraman, 1999; Michel, Kotrba, Mitchelson, Clark, & Baltes, 2011). This is partially attributable to a greater need for such research due to changes in the composition of the workforce (Greenhaus & Parasuraman, 1999). The increase in dual-earner families and in single parents (see exemple in Germany in Table 1 and 2 in the appendix) has lead to a larger number of employees who need to comply with demands from the work and from the family domain (Allen, 2001; Byron, 2005). It is very likely that at some point these demands will come into conflict and hence cause work-family conflicts. Furthermore, more employees will likely face elder care responsibilities due to the demographic change (see Table 3 in the appendix) and thus experience work-family conflicts more intensely (Premeaux, Adkins, & Mossholder, 2007). Besides, more and more Millennials are joining the workforce, who attach a great importance to work-life balance and are unwilling to prioritize work over family (PwC, University of Southern California, & the London Business School, 2013). Another reason for the increased scholarly attention is the observation that work-family conflict is linked to work-related outcomes such as organizational commitment as well as the physical well-being and life satisfaction of the employee (Frye & Breaugh, 2004; Kossek & Ozeki, 1998; Netemeyer, Boles, & McMurrian, 1996; Thompson & Prottas, 2006). This finding has not only lead to an increased scholarly interest in the work- family interface, but it has also made the state and employers acknowledge the importance of dealing with the work-family interface. Legislative and employer initiatives have been introduced in order to help employees manage both the responsibilities from the work and from the family domain (Greenhaus & Parasuraman, 1999). To guide legislation and employers it is crucial to know which kind of initiatives are effective in helping employees fulfill the demands of work and family. Besides, exploring this question will provide researchers with additional insight on which questions still need to be investigated in future studies.

1.2 Research Question and Objectives

As mentioned above, knowing how to reduce work-family conflicts has highly practical relevance. Besides, as stated by Lapierre and Allen (2006), a lot of attention in work- family interface research has been given to the reasons for and the outcomes of work-family conflicts, but not to possible methods on how to mitigate work-family conflicts. Together this gives rise to the following research question: “Which characteristics of organizational culture will help to reduce work-family conflicts?” Furthermore, as it is very probable that the relationship between characteristics of organizational culture and work-family conflict will be influenced by other variables, it is extremely important to have a closer look at those. Thus this thesis aims to investigate some variables possibly influencing the relationship between characteristics of the organizational culture and work-family conflict. The purpose of this thesis is to integrate research findings concerning the characteristics of organizational culture that help to reduce work-family conflicts and to pay specific attention to possible mediators or moderators.

The thesis is structured as follows. Firstly, the relevant concepts will be defined and it will be explained how work-family conflicts arise. Afterwards, a comprehensive and qualitative review of the current state of research concerning the impact of characteristics of organizational culture on work-family conflicts will be given. Since the scope of this thesis is limited, not all characteristics of organizational culture can be discussed here. Therefore, only the impact of supportive supervision and flexible work arrangements (FWA) will be elaborated. Finally, the findings and limitations of this thesis will be discussed and suggestions for future research will be made.

2. Theoretical Background

2.1 Definitions

2.1.1 Organizational Culture

E. Schein (2010) defined organizational culture as:

“A pattern of shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, which has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.” (p. 18)

Furthermore, Schein (1990 and 2010) divided culture into three fundamental levels: 1) artifacts, 2) beliefs and values and 3) basic underlying assumptions. Artifacts can be directly observed, heard and/or felt in the organization (e.g. clothes, language or company-wide documents). However, they are difficult to decipher, which means that their meaning for the group and why they are as they are cannot be concluded solely from the artifacts themselves. Values and beliefs are not visible, but they are consciously expressed. Values and beliefs illustrate the culture by giving meaning to certain artifacts and guiding the behavior of the group members. Basic underlying assumptions represent the core of the culture and thus are not open to discussion. They determine how group members perceive, think and feel and thus specify correct behavior. Basic underlying assumptions are unobservable, unconscious and often taken for granted.

According to Lewis (1997), family-friendly policies and programs can be classified as artifacts. Values, like the valuing of long working hours, are substantiated by artifacts (Lewis, 1997). The values themselves are based on basic assumptions like the commitment and productivity of employees seen as a function of the hours spent at work (Lewis, 1997). The basic assumption can represent barriers to the effectiveness of artifacts, if they are not adapted accordingly (Lewis, 1997). Consistent with this classification, organizational culture is often split into formal organizational policies and programs as artifacts (e.g. flexible work arrangements, abbreviated FWA) and informal workplace practices representing values and basic underlying assumptions (e.g. supportive supervision) (e.g. Anderson, Coffey, & Byerly, 2002).

2.1.2 Work-family Conflict

Greenhaus and Beutell defined work-family conflict as:

“A form of interrole conflict in which the role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect. That is, participation in the work (family) role is made more difficult by virtue of participation in the family (work) role.” (1985, p. 77).

This definition does not indicate any direction of the interference between the two roles and thus describes work-family conflict as a global, bidirectional construct. However, the acknowledgment that two distinct forms of work-family conflict exist has increased, namely work-to-family conflict (WFC) and family-to-work conflict (FWC) (Kossek & Ozeki, 1998). WFC means that work impedes with family and FWC signifies that family interferes with work (Frone, Russell, & Cooper, 1992; Greenhaus, 2002; Greenhaus & Parasuraman, 1999). As Frone, Russel and Cooper (1992) have demonstrated, the two forms have different antecedents. As a consequence the impact of policies, programs and initiatives may be different for the two types. However, research also shows that WFC and FWC nevertheless share some common sources (e.g. Byron, 2005; Michel et al., 2011). Furthermore, Frone et al. (1992) provided evidence that a positive reciprocal relationship between WFC and FWC exist. This means that the existence of one form of conflict increases the likelihood of the occurrence of or reinforces the existence of the other form. This idea of two different but related types of conflict has been largely supported by other researchers (e.g. Anderson et al., 2002; Byron, 2005; o•Driscoll et al., 2003).

2.2 The Emergence of Work-family Conmcts

In order for work-family conflict to arise always at least two opposing pressures from the work and from the family domain are simultaneously needed. If there is only one pressure from one domain. work-family conflict can never arise. As can be seen in Figure 1, certain characteristics of the work domain together with characteristics of the family domain lead to incompatible role pressures and hence cause work-family conflict.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1:Role pressures leading to work-family conflict. "Solll'Ce:Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985, p. 78".

Important to note is that work-family conflict is a perception-based construct (Raida, 2016). This means that whether or not work-family conflict is actually experienced, which kind of it and the degree of work-family conflict depend on the cognitive assessment of the individual (Raida, 2016).

Greenhaus and Beutell (1985) distinguish between three major forms of work-family conflict according to the source causing the pressure that leads to work-family conflictst namely:1) time-based conflict, 2) strain-based conflict, and 3) behavior-based conflict. This can also be seen in Figure 1. According to Greenhaus and Beutell (1985)t there are two types of time-based conflicts. The first type is experienced, when the time spent within one role makes it physically difficult or even impossible to comply with the (time) demands of another role. These demands include responsibilitiest requirements, expectations and commitment related to the specific role (Anderson et al., 2002). The second type refers to mental preoccupation with one role while physically trying to fulfill the demands of the other role (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985; Thompson, Beauvais, & Lyness, 1999). This means that the preoccupation with one role creates work-family conflict above and beyond the actual pressures (Thompson et al., 1999). Strain-based conflict occurs because involvement in one role can produce strain, which can influence the performance in the other role and thus making it hard to fulfill the its demands (Greenhaus, 2002; Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). Behavior-based conflict arises through incompatible expectations about appropriate behavior in different roles (Greenhaus, 2002; Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985).

Moreover, it is important to note that, as indicated by Figure 1 through the dotted arrow from time-pressures to strain-pressures, time-pressures, as for example the need to work overtime, may indirectly create strain-pressures and hence produce time- and strain- based work-family conflict (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). Therefore, although these two types of conflicts are conceptually distinct constructs, it is probable that they share some common sources. Besides, according to Greenhaus and Beutell (1985), role pressures and thus work-family conflict are reinforced when the role is psychologically crucial to the person’s self-concept (role salience) and when strong negative consequences arise from the noncompliance with the requirements of the role (see Figure 1). This idea received partial support by Frone, Russel and Cooper (1992), who proved that the extent to which one’s family is central to one’s self-concept is positively related to FWC. However, they could not find a significant positive relationship for the job being central to one’s self-concept and WFC.

The two main theoretical approaches used in literature to explain the emergence of work-family conflict are “Role Theory” introduced by Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, and Rosenthal (1964) and the “Model of Conservation of Resources” (COR) invented by Hobfoll (1989). In theirrole theoryKahn et al. (1964) identified several types of role conflicts including inter-role conflict. Greenhaus and Beutell (1985) based their definition of work-family conflict on this type of conflict by identifying work-family conflict as a form of inter-role conflict. Thus role theory can be perceived as a conceptual framework to work-family conflict. According to role theory, inter-role conflict arises because of the holding of multiple roles, which leads to several role expectations. These expectations impose simultaneous contradictory pressures on the person concerning appropriate behavior (see Figure 2), making compliance with both roles more difficult or even impossible (Kahn et al., 1964).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2:Work-family conflict explained through the perspective of role theory. "Source: R.aida, 2016, p. 31 fullowing Kahn. Wolfe, Quinn. Snoek. and Rosenthal. 1964, p. 30".

The basis of the model of conservation of resoun::es (COR.) is that people try to attain and keep resources, which have instrumental or symbolic value to them, and that they are aftaid of the potential or actual. loss of these resources (Hobfol1, 1989). When there is the potential or actual loss of resources or an expected resource gain does not materialize, people experience stretls (Grandey & Cropanzano, 1999; Hobfoll, 1989). For the feeling of sttess it does not matter if the actual or potential loss of resources is combined with a gain or not, as long as the overall outcome results in a loss. In order to prevent reso-.m:e loss or to obtain resoun::es, people use the resoun::es which they own or which are available to them from their environment (Hobfol1, 1989). According to the COR, work-family conflict is experienced because one role CODBUDles the resoun:es needed to enable the person to fully and successfully participate in the other role (Gran.dey & Cropanzano, 1999;Lapierre & Allen. 2006).This idea ofone role depleting the resources necessary to fulfill the demands of the other role can also be applied to the different furms of work-family conflict identified by Greenhaus and Beutell (1985), except for behavior-based conflict (Lapierre & Allen, 2006), since behavior-based conflict does not include resource loss, as indicated by Edwards and R.Dthbanl (2000). According to the COR, anything that helps to preserve or gain resources should lead to lower levels of work-family conflict (Grandey & Cropanzano, 1999; Premeaux. et al., 2007).


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Work-family Conflicts and Organizational Culture
University of Mannheim
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work-family, conflicts, organizational, culture
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Hannah Baier (Author), 2016, Work-family Conflicts and Organizational Culture, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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