Strong Ties to Community May Increase Conflicts Between Family and Work

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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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Polly


    July 11th, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Why is it that most of us have such a hard time balancing the things in our lives that are meaningful and important to us? Often times it feels like the things that make us personally gratified and happy are the things that turn the others in our lives off completely. They have no understanding why work or community involvement is so important. They simply see it is as something that keeps us away from them. It is a struggle to keep everything in the proper perspective and not make one thing more important than another.

  • louise


    July 12th, 2012 at 4:08 AM

    well i for 1 could not b married 2 some1 who puts work b4 me



    July 12th, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Well its not that difficult to balance your work and family domains now, is it? Just don’t get too involved in either one! I don’t mean to say don’t concentrate but the lesser importance you give to any one thing in your life, the lesser ‘dictating’ effect it has on the other domains in your life.

    If you are too hung up with work then even if things are fine with family, you will feel low because of the problem at work.

    So give just enough importance to each domain and you will be fine.

  • Rochelle


    July 12th, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    I wonder how much of FW/WF conflict is due to unclear priorities. I mean, it’s certainly very hard to stay focused when both one areas may require chunks of time yet provide someone with feelings of accomplishment, gratification, importance (work or home life). But just because it’s very hard, doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find some balance and minimize conflict.

    Thankfully, my current work environment understands the importance of self care and demands of family life.

  • Nell


    July 12th, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    Some of these conflicts come off as being so petty. Like women who get mad that their husnamds have to work all the time. Hello!! How are the bills supposed to get paid if no one is out working?

  • alysa fowler

    alysa fowler

    July 13th, 2012 at 4:39 AM

    In order for someone to be a success, there have to be many ties that you establish all throughout life. You don’t have to let one take over the others, but it is nice and even healthy when you achieve a certain balance among them. There will be times when one connection will feel a little more important than another, but those moments are usually only fleeting and don’t hang around.



    July 13th, 2012 at 4:46 AM

    Surprised to read this because a proactive social life is far more contributing to a healthy work life if you ask me.i have had this happening to me and really,its always great to have one part of your life inspiring another!

  • tasha


    July 13th, 2012 at 5:53 AM

    I think it’s important to have balance, compartmentalize your time. For instance, I schedule quality time with my husband and kids, just like time to prep for staff meeting and studying, but the biggest component of that is when it’s time, it’s that time, nothing else should be a factor. I understand it’s important to work, but jobs, Just like all the material things you work so hard for come and go, you can never get quality time back with your family. My kids have been all over the world, and even as adults they still say their best trip was at the Poconos with all our family (husband’s and mine). It was probably the most inexpensive trip (had to be or it wouldn’t be well attended), but it’s the one we cherish the most. Focus on making memories!!

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