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Manager and mommy? A cross‐cultural comparison

Claudia Peus (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Eva Traut‐Mattausch (Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 27 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the effects that a larger societal context (i.e. values, norms) and the legal framework have on an individual's ability to combine work and family.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative interviews were used to examine the perceptions female middle managers have of balancing work and family. A total of 25 female managers from the USA and 23 female managers from Germany were interviewed, representing diverse industries.

Findings

The results show that the dominant values in a particular society have a stronger influence on individuals' ability to balance work and family than the legal framework. Most importantly, the study provides empirical evidence for the fact that extensive laws originally designed to make it easier for women to combine work and family can actually have negative consequences for women and thus result in hurting the very persons they were designed to help.

Research limitations/implications

The sample consisted of only a small number of female managers. Thus, it cannot be regarded as fully representative of women in the USA and Germany.

Practical implications

When introducing measures designed at increasing opportunities for employees to balance work and family, it is necessary to examine their completeness, relation to societal norms, and anticipated organizational implementation.

Originality/value

This work is one of the rare studies to have used a cross‐cultural comparison in research on the work‐family interface. It provides evidence for the importance of societal values and for the fact that seemingly supportive laws can have negative consequences for women's ability to combine work and family.

Keywords

Citation

Peus, C. and Traut‐Mattausch, E. (2008), "Manager and mommy? A cross‐cultural comparison", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 558-575. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683940810884531

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited