ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (4): 540-551.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.00540

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Boundary Flexibility and Work-family Conflict and Enrichment: from Person-environment Fit Perspective

MA Hongyu;SHEN Chuangang;YANG Jing;TANG Hanying;XIE Julan   

  1. (1Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behaivor (CCNU), Ministry of Education, Wuhan 430079, China) (2School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, and Hubei Human Development of Mental Health Key Laboratory, Wuhan 430079, China) (3 Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China) (4University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China)
  • Received:2013-05-16 Published:2014-04-25 Online:2014-04-25
  • Contact: MA Hongyu;SHEN Chuangang


Work and family are two important domains in an individual’s life. How to balance work and family domains have become an increasingly compelling and pressing issue for both the organizational scholars interested in theoretical advances, and for human resources practitioners seeking to promote the employee’s daily life. Individuals negotiate the boundaries between work and family in their daily activities. There are differences between the individual’s preference and the resource that provided by the organization in boundary management of work and family domain. In our study, using a person-environment (PE) fit theoretical base, we explored how the interaction between an individual’s boundary flexibility willingness and the perceived flexibility ability of the domain boundary affects work-family conflict and work –family enrichment. Specifically, we predict that the fit of domain boundary flexibility-ability and individual’s domain boundary flexibility-willingness would be associated with lower work-family conflict and higher work-family enrichment. Data were collected from a sample of 494 fulltime married employees from different industries. The questionnaire for employee included work-family boundary flexibility scale, work-family conflict and work-family enrichment. Among the major measures, the 16-items boundary flexibility scale was adopted from Matthews and Barnes-Farrell (2010), WFC was measured via 10 items that was adopted from Netemeyer and Boles (1996), the eight item WFE scale was adopted from Wayne, Musisca and Fleeson (2004). Results show that the Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for the above measures range from 0.72 to 0.89. Polynomial regression and response surface methodology were utilized to examine the proposed hypotheses. In line with the predictions, results of polynomial regression and response surface methodology demonstrate that work-to-family conflict decreased as work flexibility-ability (WFA) approached work flexibility-willingness (WFW), and increased as WFA exceeded WFW, family-to-work conflict decreased as family flexibility-ability (FFA) approached family flexibility-willingness (FFW), and increased as FFA surpassed FFW. The results also showed that the fit of WFA and WFW has no effect on work-to-family enrichment, and the fit of FFA and FFW has the significant effect on family-to-work enrichment, but it is opposite to the hypotheses. Specifically, family-to-work enrichment decreased as FFA approaching FFW, and increased as FFA exceeded FFW. The present study extends to our understanding the mechanism of the process of the work-family conflict and work-family enrichment happens. Finally, the theoretical and managerial implications of the findings, limitations and future research directions were also discussed.

Key words: person-environment fit, boundary flexibility-ability, boundary flexibility-willingness, work-family conflict, work-family enrichment