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The transmission of work‐related attitudes: a social learning analysis

Deirdre O'Shea (DCU Business School, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)
Melrona Kirrane (DCU Business School, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




The purpose of the paper is to focus on personal and social background factors as potential channels for the transmission of work related attitudes in young adults. The paper aims to examine the extent to which gender, parental job type, job status, and education, as well as school experience, influence the development of attitudes towards work and family life.


The study comprised a quantitative (questionnaire based) survey with a sample of 782 final year undergraduate students attending various third level institutions in Ireland and the USA.


The results indicated that individuals who had grown up in traditional mixed families had more positive attitudes towards balancing work and home roles than did those who had grown up in traditional single earner families. Father's educational level also emerged as a significant factor in the career‐family attitudes of the participants.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this research indicate that young people have developed attitudes towards managing the work/family interface on entering the workforce, which they acquire through a social learning process. Limitations included the cross‐sectional nature of the design and future longitudinal research is needed.

Practical implications

Organizations and managers need to be aware of the well‐developed attitudes of new entrants in order to address early issues of psychological contract and person‐organizational fit, which have an impact on career success and career management.


The findings of the paper break new ground on the role of social learning on the formation of attitudes towards managing the work‐family interface. Such attitudes proceed to inform behavioral patterns and decisions in the harmonious management of the two domains.



O'Shea, D. and Kirrane, M. (2008), "The transmission of work‐related attitudes: a social learning analysis", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 524-557.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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