According to a new study led by Thomas W.H. Ng of the School of Business and Economics at the University of Hong Kong, individuals who have strong community and professional ties may have higher levels of family-work (FWC) and work-family conflicts (WFC). Currently, there are two fields of research that address work and family relationships. The first focuses on how an individual’s job affects their family and how their family life influences their job. The second field looks at how embeddedness or being strongly tied to one’s community or job affects family and professional life.
Ng believes that organization embeddedness (OE) and community embeddeness (CE) both impact FWC and WFC in unique ways. For instance, people with high levels of OE may be unwilling to give up the perks associated with their current position, even though the hours or stress of their job create higher levels of family conflict. Similarly, CE can negatively influence one’s career advancement because having strong ties to the community, through social or religious affiliations could prevent someone from relocating in order to further their career. Because there is little research examining the effect that each of these domains has on the other, Ng chose to analyze how each of these issues affected WFC and FWC in a sample of 165 Chinese participants and 250 American participants. Ng also considered individualization as a contributing factor as he assessed the participants.
After 10 months, Ng found that high levels of OE and CE directly predicted high levels of WFC and FWC in all the participants, but with slight variations. Specifically, the results revealed that the Chinese participants with high levels of OE and individualism had higher WFC but not higher levels of FWC. In the American participants, increases in CE were related to increases in FWC but did not increase WFC. These findings suggest that individualization has a significant impact on a person’s social and professional belief system, and this perception also influences family relationships. Ng noted that although these results show that being strongly connected to an organization or community can have negative effects on work and family relationships, more work needs to be done. Ng added, “We hope the present research stimulates further examination of the relationships between different types of embeddedness and different types of conflict between work and family domains.”
Ng, T. W. H., Feldman, D. C. (2012). The effects of organizational and community embeddedness on work-to-family and family-to-work conflict. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029089
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