Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Policy Implementation Framework and Family-Friendly Work Policy: Evidence from Flex-Working Programs in South Korea's Public Sectors

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Policy Implementation Framework and Family-Friendly Work Policy: Evidence from Flex-Working Programs in South Korea's Public Sectors

Article excerpt


The main purpose of this study is to explore factors (e.g., political, organizational, cultural & institutional) that negatively influence the implementation of flex-working programs (i.e., flex-time, part-time and at-home work programs) and thus result in only a very small number of government employees (1.6 percent in 2011) taking advantage of these programs in South Korea's public organizations. To address, this research uses Mazmanian & Sabatier's (1989) conceptual framework of the implementation process including three groups of independent variables (e.g., the tractability of the problem(s) being addressed, the ability of the statute to structure favorably the implementation process and the net effect of a variety of political variables on the balance of support for statutory objectives) which exert an influence on the implementation process. Finally, to successfully implement flex-working programs in Korea's public sector and to attain their primary policy goal of improving an employee's work/life balance, this research concludes with the three suggestions on policy contents and managerial leadership.

Keywords: flex-working programs, family-friendly work policy, policy implementation framework, policy evaluation

1. Introduction

Over the past two decades, the rates of women's economic activity and participation have consistently increased in both Korea's private and public workforces. In particular, the number of female government employees has increased remarkably, as shown in Table 1.

As female economic activity rates increase in Korea, work-family conflicts are becoming significant social and labor market challenges. Specifically, married career women who perform economic activities and simultaneously take care of their families and children suffer from very high levels of job stress, as well as mental and physical pain. In addition, as the Korean society ages, a number of female economic activities should be increased to support both their parents and children (Jang & Choi, 2009). Another problem, as shown in Table 2, is that the rate of female employment in the Senior Civil Service (SCS) (i.e., high-profile public officials) has not increased proportionately to the increased rate of female economic activities in Korean public organizations.

Heavy burdens of household chores and child care weigh especially on female employees; long working hours, inflexible work environments, and an imbalance between work and family are among the reasons that lead to only a very small number of female employees filling high-ranking positions in public sectors (Jang & Choi, 2009; Jin & Chang, 2010). Therefore, the Korean government will face economic and social harm due to the loss of competent female employees, as well as intensifying family and social conflicts if these work-family conflicts are not addressed to improve the balance between work and family.

In addition, employees' needs and values for self-development activities (e.g., education to obtain advanced degrees, learning foreign languages, and physical exercise) and numerous types of leisure have consistently increased in both the public and private workforce. As a result, government employees are likely to prefer flex-working schedules rather than traditional work styles (i.e., 9-5 work days, Monday-Friday work weeks, or on-site work) to spend more of their time in self-development and leisure activities (Jang & Choi, 2009; Jin & Chang, 2010).

To address these problems and policy needs, two departments of the central government of Korea-the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) and the Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL)-formulated and implemented three types of flex-working programs (part-time work, flex-time work, and at-home work) as part of a system of family-friendly employment policies constructed and designed to support employees' work/life balance through the provision of benefits, incentives, subsidies, flexible work schedules, etc. …

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