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All's (not) fair in motherhood and work? Post-partum psychological contract breach experiences of Indian first-time mothers

Aparna M. Varma (Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, Kozhikode, India)
Rahul Sivarajan (School of Management and Labour Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India)

Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration

ISSN: 1757-4323

Article publication date: 30 March 2023




To understand how Indian first-time mothers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) organisations returning to work cope with the perceived ideological psychological contract breaches from a work–home resources perspective.


This paper utilises interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) within the work–home resources (W-HR) model to analyse returning first-time mothers' lived experiences.


This study shows that significant life/work events such as childbirth/lack of career growth can trigger resource depletion at work and home and materialise in first-time mothers perceiving ideological psychological contract breaches at work. It has also been observed that key resource usage and macro support structures aid employees in attenuating work–home conflict by balancing contextual demands and personal resources. This study's participant accounts reveal that the recovery of volatile resources was possible by psychologically detaching and being silent.


The study offers a distinctive perspective by investigating the ideological PC breach experienced by first-time Indian mothers upon their organisational re-entry from a work–home resource model lens. Situated in a unique socio-cultural space and bringing forth the rich lived experiences of women working in the Indian STEM field, this paper explores how key resources shape the coping responses of first-time mothers in this context.



The authors would like to acknowledge the invaluable inputs from the two anonymous reviewers towards bettering the manuscript. The authors would also like to thank Prof. Premalatha Packirisamy (TISS Mumbai) for her guidance in the initial stages of writing this manuscript.


Varma, A.M. and Sivarajan, R. (2023), "All's (not) fair in motherhood and work? Post-partum psychological contract breach experiences of Indian first-time mothers", Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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