‘Family’ in organizational research: a review and comparison of definitions and measures


  • Teresa J. Rothausen

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    1. Graduate School of Business, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.
    • Graduate School of Business, University of St. Thomas, 1000 La Salle Ave., MPL 343, Minneapolis MN 55403-2005, U.S.A.
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Interest in the impact of family on work has grown in recent years; family is emerging as a significant source of understanding work attitudes and behaviors. However, no consensus and little discussion exists regarding how organizational researchers should define and measure ‘family’. In this article, I reviewed the definitions of family in other literatures and those implied by measures of family used in organizational research on work attitudes and behaviors. Analysis revealed five substantive themes in the measurement of family by organizational researchers: perceptions about the importance of the family role to the individual, attitudes toward family, numbers and types of dependents, the role played in the family, and the support available from family members. I then discussed the need for a comprehensive measure of dependents, and developed a new measure, Responsibility for Dependents (RFD). I examined the five types of measures empirically, and discussed empirical and conceptual differences between measures of family. Finally, I addressed issues regarding the measurement of family for organizational research, including the need for more inclusive and diverse measures and the need for further research. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.