Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

An Exploratory Study of the Impact of Family & Technology Issues on Sales Careers with a Focus on Gender Differences

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

An Exploratory Study of the Impact of Family & Technology Issues on Sales Careers with a Focus on Gender Differences

Article excerpt


The first purpose of this exploratory study was to add to the body of knowledge related to work-family conflict (WFC), particularly in the area of the impact of family members' health issues on careers. The second purpose was to address the impact of information technology security issues on salespeople's lives and careers. The authors designed and distributed a survey on work-family conflict and technology issues to 35 salespeople they knew. Items from two previously-developed scales were borrowed, and new items and questions were created. An overview of the responses to the questions is provided. The focus then shifts to identifying any significant gender differences. Significant differences were found for gender with regard to percentage of time spent on certain sales-related tasks, for several WFC questions relating to self-image and loss of productivity, and effect of parent's health on career plans. Limitations, tentative conclusions and suggestions for future research are then provided.


A discussion of the effect of aging parents on professional careers took place at a conference in the fall of 2003 among several colleagues. This discussion prompted the researchers to explore the impact of family-related issues (schedule flexibility, care giving responsibility and technology) on salespeople's ongoing professional development and careers. A review of the literature revealed the connection of family-related issues, and to a lesser extent, technology issues, to the larger issues of work and family conflict and role conflict and ambiguity. Adams (1998) summarized the dilemma faced by many sales and marketing employees and managers:

   "Which will it be, Jennifer's ballet recital or the client dinner?
   The anniversary celebration or the manager's conference? Missed
   opportunities on one end can mean loss of client trust, aborted
   promotions, or worse, termination. Short shrift on the other side
   can translate to marital conflicts, domestic discord, alienated
   children" (p. 61).


The psychology, organizational behavior, human resource management, and family sciences literature is full of studies on the impact of work and family conflict on employee productivity, job satisfaction, job loyalty, marital happiness, and physical and mental health, among other attitudinal, physiological, and behavioral consequences. Work-family conflict has been established by prior research to be bi-directional; i.e., it involves two types of conflict, work obligations interfering with family life (work-family conflict, WFC) and family life interfering with work duties (family-work conflict, FWC)(Marchese, Bassham & Ryan, 2002, 145, 146).

One of the leading contributors to the body of knowledge on work-family conflict (WFC) has been management professor Jeffrey Greenhaus of Drexel University. Greenhaus and Beutell (1985) identified three key types of WFC in their review of existing literature: time-based conflict (e.g., hours worked per week, schedule flexibility, child care demands); strain-based conflict (e.g., tension, depression, irritability, family roles expectations); and behavior-based conflict (role expectations). Prior research by Greenhaus and others identified the importance of studying gender differences in WFC, especially when both husband and wife are employed (see, e.g., Burke, Weir & DuWors, 1979; Cinamon & Rich, 2002; Greenhaus & Powell, 2003; Jansen et al., 2003; Kim & Ling, 2001; Martins, Eddleston & Veiga, 2002; Parasuraman et al., 1989; Parasuraman & Simmers, 2001; Senecal, Vallerand & Guay, 2001).

One area of the work-family literature that has received more attention lately is that of the impact of caregiver arrangements and related issues on employees' attitudes and behavior (e.g., see Kossek's work, including Kossek & Ozeki, 1998). To some extent, more research seems to have been done on child care than on elder care. …

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