How Work–Family Research Can Finally Have an Impact in Organizations


Ellen Ernst Kossek. E-mail:
Address: School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824


Although work–family research has mushroomed over the past several decades, an implementation gap persists in putting work–family research into practice. Because of this, work–family researchers have not made a significant impact in improving the lives of employees relative to the amount of research that has been conducted. The goal of this article is to clarify areas where implementation gaps between work–family research and practice are prevalent, discuss the importance of reducing these gaps, and make the case that both better and different research should be conducted. We recommend several alternative but complementary actions for the work–family researcher: (a) work with organizations to study their policy and practice implementation efforts, (b) focus on the impact of rapid technological advances that are blurring work–family boundaries, (c) conduct research to empower the individual to self-manage the work–family interface, and (d) engage in advocacy and collaborative policy research to change institutional contexts and break down silos. Increased partnerships between industrial–organizational (I–O) psychology practitioners and researchers from many industries and disciplines could break down silos that we see as limiting development of the field.