Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

An Integrative Model of Perceived Available Support, Work-Family Conflict and Support Mobilisation

Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

An Integrative Model of Perceived Available Support, Work-Family Conflict and Support Mobilisation

Article excerpt


Work-family conflict is impacting on increasingly larger numbers of employees. It is therefore important to identify ways in which the negative effects of this stressor can be ameliorated. In this paper an integrative model of perceived available support, work-family conflict and support mobilisation is developed to explore how perceptions of support availability can help employees to cope with work-family conflict. This model is an explicit reflection of the theory of stress-buffering during secondary appraisal, and extends existing theory by incorporating the principles of both the stress-matching and source of support frameworks. The theoretical model enables a more comprehensive examination of the conditions under which stress-buffering is effective in countering the demands of work-family conflict. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Key words: work-family conflict; perceived available support; support mobilisation

Work-family conflict is a topic of increasing W interest both for academic researchers and Australian peak bodies. The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2005) recently released a discussion paper that called for the nation to take seriously the need to strike a balance between work and family. The discussion paper argues that with employees working longer hours, the ability to manage family responsibilities declines sharply. In support of this, a Relationships Australia (2003) survey that found 89% of Australians agreed their familial relationships suffer as a result of workfamily conflict.

Work-family conflict can be defined as the extent to which inter-role conflict occurs between an employee's work and family roles, such that die demands of their work roles interfere with the fulfilment of their family roles (Frone, Russell & Cooper 1992; Greenhaus & Beutell 1985). Work role conflict, work role ambiguity and work time demands have all been shown to influence employees' experience of work-family conflict (see Byron, 2005). Researchers have demonstrated that the experience of such conflict is stressful for many employees and is associated with emotional responses such as anxiety, tension, discontentment, confusion and frustration (Brough & O'Driscoll 2005; Kinman & Jones 2005). Further, the experience of work-family conflict for many employees results in increases in role strain, absenteeism and turnover, and decreases in health, psychological well-being, job satisfaction and organisational commitment (for a review see Brough & O'Driscoll 2005; Eby, Casper, Lockwood, Bordeaux & Brinley 2005; Frone 2003; Hammer, Colton, Caubet & Brockwood 2002).

Research shows that social support resources (see Byron 2005; Eby et al. 2005), and particularly perceptions of available social support (e.g. Pisarski, Bohle & Callan 2002; Pisarski, Lawrence, Bohle, Gallois & Watson 2005), are important in helping individuals to cope with work-family conflict. Although some researchers argue that the positive influence of perceived available support on adjustment to stress is mediated by enhanced coping responses (e.g. Sarason, Sarason, Brock & Pierce 1996; Terry, Rawle & Callan 1995), others have argued that perceived available support moderates the relationship between work-family conflict and adjustment outcomes (see Cohen & Wills 1985; Cooper, Dewe & O'Driscoll 2001). To date, researchers have not considered how support mobilisation could be useful in reducing work-family conflict. In this article, I present a theoretical framework that integrates these approaches into a mediated-moderation model that considers how perceptions of available support help employees to alleviate the negative effects of work-family conflict via support mobilisation.


Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) psychosocial model of stress and coping has been used by most researchers as an underlying framework to explain the role of perceived available support in assisting employees to cope with stressors such as work-family conflict. …

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