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Employee control, flexibility and work/family conflict

Research project The aim of this project is to examine the effect of job control on work-family conflict. Comparisons are made between men and women, across professions and between countries.

The project takes its point of departure in the current debate about the ’flexibilization’of work and its effect on health and gender equality. According to several researchers, efforts to increase organizational flexibility have loosened the regulation of work, leaving it to individual employees to define and structure their work and, consequently, to draw the line between work and non-work. Such a development may make it easier to juggle the demands of paid work and family life and generally increase well-being, for job control – or the possibility for employees to influence their own work - has long been considered a buffer against stress. However, control may also be a source of stress, especially in downsized, flexible organisations. Here, control can make work difficult to define and delimit, causing negative spillover into private life. Previous research on work-family conflict has focused largely on work hours. Very few studies have considered the impact of control, although this is an important concept in research on work and stress, as well as in current debates about the transformation of work.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2006-01-01 2007-12-31

Funding

Finansår , 2006, 2007

huvudman: Anne Grönlund, finansiar: FAS, y2006: 650, y2007: 650,

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences

Research area

Sociology

Project description

The project takes its point of departure in the current debate about the ’flexibilization’of work and its effect on health and gender equality. According to several researchers, efforts to increase organizational flexibility have loosened the regulation of work, leaving it to individual employees to define and structure their work and, consequently, to draw the line between work and nonwork.

Such a development may make it easier to juggle the demands of paid work and family life and generally increase well-being, for job control – or the possibility for employees to influence their own work - has long been considered a buffer against stress. However, control may also be a source of stress, especially in downsized, flexible organisations. Here, control can make work difficult to define and delimit, causing negative spillover into private life.

Previous research on work/family conflict has focused largely on work hours. Very fewstudies have considered the impact of control, although this is an important concept in research on work and stress, as well as in current debates about the transformation of work.

The aim of this project is to examine the effect of job control on work/family conflict. Data come from the European Social Survey, the International Social Survey Program and the Swedish Level of Living Surveys and comparisons are made between men and women, across professions and between countries.

Five major questions are adressed:

* How has the degree of job control changed for different professions during the 1990´s?

* What is the effect of job control on work/family conflict?

* Is control of special importance in caring and service professions, which require a potentially strainful ”emotional work”?

* Do gender differences in job control vary systematically between different production/welfare regimes?

* Do regime differences influence the effect of job control on work/family conflict?