Toward culture-sensitive theories of the work–family interface


  • Earlier versions of portions of this paper were presented at the International Congress of Applied Psychology in Athens, Greece in 2006 and the Academy of Management Meetings in Washington, DC, U.S.A. in 2001 and in Anaheim, CA, U.S.A. in 2008.


Due to societal trends, managing the work–family interface has become an increasingly challenging task for employees in virtually every nation. However, prior studies of this interface have mostly tested U.S.-based theories using U.S. samples. The construct of societal or national culture, which seems likely to shape individuals' experiences of the work–family interface, has been generally unacknowledged in theories and research in the work–family literature. In this paper, we offer guidelines for the development of culture-sensitive theories of work–family phenomena and for research to test such theories as they are developed. First, we review the few prior research attempts that have incorporated cultural considerations in some manner and identify cultural dimensions that are likely to influence the work–family interface. Second, we demonstrate how selected cultural dimensions may be incorporated into theories of work–family conflict and enrichment, two constructs that represent the negative and positive side of the work–family interface respectively, to make these theories more culture-sensitive. Finally, we offer an ambitious agenda for future theory and research to increase understanding of cultural influences on the work–family interface. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.