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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2014, Vol. 46 Issue (4) : 552-568     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.00552
Why Is It Difficult to Balance Work and Family? An Analysis Based on Work-Family Boundary Theory
GAO Zhonghua;ZHAO Chen
(1 College of Business Administration, Capital University of Economics and Business, Beijing 100070, China) (2 School of Management, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100089, China)
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Work-family conflict has been one of the central issues in organizational behavior and human resource management research since the late 1980s. Although antecedents and consequences of work-family conflict have been widely studied, there are several limitations in the current literature as follows. Firstly, many researchers pay much of their attention to figuring out the antecedents and consequences of work-family conflict, but little attention is directed toward uncovering the inherent mechanism. Second, the effects of work interfering with family on individuals’ work-related attitudes and behaviors have been examined extensively, but little attention has been paid to the effects of family interfering with work. Finally, many researchers regard work-family conflict as a source of role conflict and neglect the effects of work-family conflict on other forms of role stress, such as role ambiguity and role overload. Therefore, this study was designed to extend the existing literature. The causes of work-family conflict have been analyzed based on work-family boundary theory by taking the three portfolios of work-family boundary as external conditions and the ever-growing role requirements in both domains of work and family as internal conditions. The effects of the two forms of work-family conflict - work interfering with family and family interfering with work - on individuals’ work-related attitudes and behaviors were mediated by the three dimensions of role stress (role conflict, role ambiguity, and role overload). Two rounds of survey investigation have been conducted in seven subsidies of a large corporation specialized in manufacturing automatic control systems. In the first round, work interfering with family, family interfering with work, role conflict, role ambiguity, and role overload were included in the questionnaire. In the second round, job satisfaction and turnover intention were included in the questionnaire. Finally, 545 matching data, collected in the two-round investigation, were used to test the mediating effects of role stress on the relationships between work-family conflict and individuals’ work-related attitudes and behaviors through structural equation modeling. Results indicate that: (1) work interfering with family exerts positive effects on role conflict and role overload significantly; (2) family interfering with work exerts positive effects on role conflict, role ambiguity and role overload significantly; (3) role conflict, role ambiguity and role overload all exert negative effects on job satisfaction and positive effects on turnover intention; and (4) role stress plays as a full mediating role in the associations of work-family conflict with job satisfaction and turnover intention, and job satisfaction serves as a partial mediator in the association of role stress and turnover intention. Several practical implications for managers can be drawn from the mechanisms concluded based on work-family boundary theory. First, managers can implement work-family conflict interventions more precisely based on a deep understanding of the nature of work-family conflict. Second, work-family balance planning can be designed based on the mediating mechanism of work-family conflict on work-related outcomes through role stress. Third, job satisfaction can be taken as an indicator to reduce the potential violation of work-family conflict on individuals’ work-related attitudes and behaviors.

Keywords work family conflict      work-family boundary      role stress      job satisfaction      turnover intention     
Corresponding Authors: ZHAO Chen   
Issue Date: 25 April 2014
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GAO Zhonghua;ZHAO Chen. Why Is It Difficult to Balance Work and Family? An Analysis Based on Work-Family Boundary Theory[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica,2014, 46(4): 552-568.
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