Academic journal article Research and Practice in Human Resource Management

The Influence of Support at Work and Home on Work-Family Conflict: Does Gender Make a Difference?

Academic journal article Research and Practice in Human Resource Management

The Influence of Support at Work and Home on Work-Family Conflict: Does Gender Make a Difference?

Article excerpt


Although work-family conflict has been identified and analysed by numerous behavioural researchers, attempts to examine this issue across cultures are generally lacking. In view of this gap in the literature, this study sought to examine the influence of support at work (managerial support) and at home (spousal support) in predicting work-family conflict on a sample of 185 married accountants in Malaysia. The moderating role of gender in these relationships was also investigated. Consistent with the hypotheses, the results revealed that managerial support and spousal support have negative effects on work-family conflict. In addition, gender was found to moderate the relationships between both forms of support and work-family conflict. Implications of the findings to human resource management policies and practices are presented. Variability in the effects of social support from the work and home domains on work-family conflict for men and women suggests the need for customised attention. Limitations of the study and future suggestions are discussed.


Work represents a key component of the lives of men, with the accepted domain of women being at home and family. This scenario has changed dramatically due to the profound changes in the demographic make up of the workforce such as the entry of women, dual earner couples, and single parents (Grant-Vallone & Donaldson 2001), and the changing nature of the work demands. Yet, for many employees, balancing the dual demands and responsibilities of work and family can become overwhelming and result in work-family conflict. A review of the literature indicates that work-family conflict has adverse consequences for both individuals and organisations. Individuals who experience work-family conflict may incur elevated job stress (Frone, Russell & Cooper 1992), depression (Thomas & Ganster 1995), and reduced job, marital, as well as life satisfaction (Bedeian, Burke & Moffett 1988, Higgins & Duxbury 1992, Burke & Greenglass 1999). On the other hand, organisational level repercussions from workfamily conflict include increased absenteeism (Thomas & Ganster 1995), higher turnover, and lower productivity (Fernandez 1986).

Over the last two decades, there has been a substantial increase in research on work-family conflict (for example, Bedeian, et al. 1988, Voydanoff 1988, Frone, et al. 1992, Thomas & Ganster 1995, Adams, King & King 1996, Kinnunen & Mauno 1998, Carlson & Perrewe 1999, Carlson & Kacmar 2000, Grant-Vallone & Donaldson 2001, Anderson, Coffey & Byerly 2002, Boyar, Maertz, Pearson & Keough 2003, Carnicer, Sanchez, Perez & Jimenez 2004, Wallace 2005, Pasewark & Viator 2006, Cinamon, Rich & Westman 2007). Unfortunately, most empirical work on this topic makes use of samples from developed Western economies particularly the United States. These studies have been devoted to examining either its antecedents, consequences, or both. In the study on the antecedents of work-family conflict, researchers have classified these variables into two major categories: work domain variables and family domain variables (Frone, Yardley & Markel 1997). A major limitation of prior research on the predictors of work-family conflict is that it has given greater emphasis on the effect of one domain at a time (Carlson & Perrewe 1999).

Despite having calls to expand research on work-family conflict across national cultures (Aryee, Fields & Luk 1999, Yang, Chen, Choi & Zou 2000, Poelmans 2003, Hill, Yang, Hawkins & Ferris 2004), to date, relatively few studies have been done within the non Western context (for instance, Aryee, et al. 1999, Fu & Shaffer 2001, Kim & Ling 2001, Lo 2003, Skitmore & Ahmad 2003, Luk & Shaffer 2005). The countries involved were Hong Kong and Singapore. In the case of Malaysia, some empirical studies investigating the phenomenon of work-family conflict in Malaysia have been reported (see Ahmad 1996, Noor 2002, Komarraju 2006). …

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