Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

Is Entrepreneurship the Answer to Achieving Work-Family Balance?

Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

Is Entrepreneurship the Answer to Achieving Work-Family Balance?

Article excerpt


Many people (particularly women) see entrepreneurship as a way of achieving a better balance between work and family than that provided by paid employment. Fifty-eight entrepreneurs were interviewed in New Zealand (32 women and 26 men) in order to explore the work-family conflict they face, the techniques they use to achieve work-family balance and the effectiveness of these strategies. Our study finds that women entrepreneurs employ a number of flexible work practices, such as choosing where to work, when to work and with whom to work as well as managing their roles within the family. This study concludes that entrepreneurship may not be a panacea for achieving work-family balance. We offer some suggestions for how entrepreneurs may better achieve work-family balance.

Keywords: work-family balance; entrepreneurs; gender; work-family conflict; women entrepreneurs; New Zealand

Work-family balance refers to the extent to which individuals are both equally involved and equally satisfied with their work and family responsibilities (Greenhaus & Singh 2003). It is concerned with how organisations and employees manage their responsibilities for dependent family members, including children, elderly parents and sick or disabled adults. There are a number of different practices that organisations can undertake to assist employees to balance their work and families. These practices fall into broad categories; caring and flexible work and caring and financial assistance. Flexible work practices include; time off in lieu, annual hours, a compressed working week, extended leave, compassionate leave, leave for sick dependents, career breaks for family reasons, home working and teleworking. In terms of financial assistance, organisations can offer loans, allowances and contributory allowances towards childcare, childcare vouchers, workplace nurseries, shared nurseries and/or company nannies (EEO Trust 2005). Although a number of authors argue that the concept of work-family balance is cloudy and ill-defined (Felstead, Jewson, Phizackles & Walters 2002), work-life balance is usually defined as offering employees more control over their time (Arulappan 2003). Thus, work-family balance potentially removes role conflict by passing the management of roles over to the employee.

Work-family conflict is essentially a form of role conflict, in which the demands of one role are incompatible with the demands of another (Frone, Russell & Cooper 1992; Kahn, Wolfe, Snock & Rosenthal 1964). Two forms of conflict can arise in such situations: work-family conflict, when work demands interfere with family responsibilities and family-work conflict, when family obligations interfere with work (Kossek & Ozeki 1998). Recent studies suggest that the negative effects of work-family conflict may be greater for women and for older workers (Martins, Eddleston & Veiga 2002). Work-family conflict involves stressors that relate to work characteristics (time pressure, work stressors) as well as family characteristics (parental demand and family support) (Kim & Ling 2001). Lately, researchers have recognised that work-family conflict is multidirectional (work-family conflict and family-work conflict) (Haar 2006). However, for the purposes of this study and other entrepreneurship studies (Shelton 2006) this distinction is not deemed important.

Over the past 15 years or so people have become creative about managing the dual demands of work and family (Avery, Haynes & Haynes 2000). Research suggests that work-family conflict can impact on job satisfaction, family satisfaction and in turn, life satisfaction (Kopelman, Greenhaus & Connolly in Foley & Powell 1997). Lawrence (2006) would suggest that work-family conflict is becoming increasingly important, primarily because of longer working hours. The ability to manage non-work responsibilities is directly affected by this, thereby increasing levels of stress. …

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