The crossover of work-family experiences among supervisor-subordinate dyads in India.

AuthorSampath, Pavithra


Contemporary socio-demographic landscape, increased number of dual earner couples in the workforce, technological and market changes which demand 24/7 business hours and pressure on individuals for sufficient financial stability have squeezed the distinction between the work and family role domains of an individual. This has significant implications for work-family balance (Nair, 2013; Nayeem & Tripathy, 2012; Pandu, Balu & Poorani, 2013). Researchers have applied various frameworks to study the link between the two integral spheres of life, work and family. Among these, the conflict framework has occupied a respectable space in the literature of work-family balance/interaction. Conflict framework (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985) assumes that work and family are two different role domains. They have different sets of demands and responsibilities. Investment of more time and energy in one role will make it difficult to perform efficiently in the other, leading to WFC. Studies on WFC have extensively used spillover and crossover models which suggest that demands or strains from one role domain are carried over to the other role domain (Bakker & Demerouti, 2013; Van Emmerik & Peeters, 2009; Westman, 2001, 2005; Zhang, Foley & Yang, 2013). Spillover is a within-person across domains transmission of strain from one area of life to another whereas crossover involves transmission across individuals, where the demands and their consequent strain crossover between closely related individuals (e.g., from one partner to another partner in a dyad) (Westman, 2001).

Along with the conflict framework, 'role expansion' framework (Marks, 1977) has also received sufficient attention in the literature. The underlying assumption of role expansion framework is that work and family do not always interfere with each other; rather they may overshadow the negative effects and benefit of each other leading to work-family facilitation (WFF). Several synonymous terms are used to describe the positive interaction between work and family such as positive spillover, work-family facilitation, work-family synergy and work-family enrichment (Allis & O'Driscoll, 2008; Greenhaus & Powell, 2006; Masuda, McNall, Allen & Nicklin, 2012; Wayne, Musisca & Fleeson, 2004). WFF is defined as the extent to which an individual's engagement in one life domain (i.e., work/family) provides gains (i.e., developmental, affective, capital, or efficiency) which contribute to enhanced functioning of another life domain (i.e., family/work) (Carlson et al., 2006; Wayne, Grzywacz, Carlson & Kacmard, 2007). Impacts of WFF on individuals have been widely studied using the spillover model and application of cross over model in WFF research is scarce (Carlson et al., 2011).

Studies using crossover models majorly have been conducted in the Western context which provides impetus to examine the same in the socio-cultural context of India. Also, studies have mostly focused on crossover of stress, strain, burnout and engagement. Rarely attempts have been made to integrate both WFC and WFF in a research model and examine the crossover of the same in supervisor and subordinate dyads in a workplace setting. Given the rise of jobs involving team work (Carlson et al., 2011; Van Emmerik & Peeters, 2009), examination of crossover of work-family experience between supervisors and subordinates requires attention from researchers.

Work-Life Balance & Supervisor-subordinate Relationships

Research has considerably highlighted the importance of work-life balance for organizational and individual performance (Chawla & Sondhi, 2011). With the increase in WFC, there is decrease in work-life balance (Chawla & Sondhi, 2011) and job satisfaction (Baral, 2016) and increase in turnover intention and burnout levels (Nayeem & Tripathy, 2012). Indians, being a part of a collectivist culture, give high priority to fulfill their family and social responsibilities (Hofstede, 2001; Rathi & Barath, 2013). Unlike the West, where work occupies a central position in an individual's life (Snir & Harpaz, 2006), work is not considered central to the being of an individual in India (Gopinath, 1998; Sharma, 2015). This detachment does not imply poor performance or indifference towards learning or growth. In India, work is viewed as a duty and a way to support the family (Sharma, 2015). While spending quality time with the family members, neighbors, friends and relatives is considered important to employees, they face several demands from both family and job (Rathi & Barath, 2013). Most individuals in India ignore many a times the key aspects in life which is the work- life balance (Pandu et al., 2013). Compared to the Western culture, Indian culture perceives work and family domains as an integrated one, hence, the balance between these domains is considered important (Hassan, Dollard & Winefield, 2010).

Supervisor-subordinate relationship is also unique in Indian culture. India differed considerably from USA and UK on the dimensions of power distance and individualism/ collectivism (Hofstede, 1997). While, US organizations follow a highly individualist culture, in India, each and every decision is made with the consent of the supervisor (Varma et al., 2005). Indian organizations are collectivist in nature at the same time there is a strict hierarchical structure between the supervisor and his/her subordinates and the relationship is that of a guru-shishya (teacher--student) (Krishnan, 2011; Ranjan Kumar & Sankaran, 2007). Here, employees look for supportive environment that helps them manage their multiple roles (Baral, 2016). Superior in a collectivist culture acts as a father or mother, who not only takes care of the work related issues but also personal issues (Varma et al., 2005). These leaders support, nurture, guide and care for their subordinates. These findings suggest the unique and close relationships between subordinates and their supervisors in the Indian work context which needs further exploration.

With this background, the first objective of the current study is to examine the crossover of work-family experiences from supervisors to subordinates affecting their work-family experiences such as WFC and WFF. The second objective is to explore the extent to which supervisor's work-family experience affects their subordinates' job satisfaction and performance.

Work-family Conflict (WFC) & Facilitation (WFF)

Investment of time and energy in one role domain (e.g. work) usually influences the other role domain (e.g. family) in terms of effectively carrying out the responsibilities and resulting in work-family conflict or WFC (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). WFC has been conceptualized as bi-directional in nature, where work roles may interfere with family roles (work-to-family conflict) and vice versa (family-to-work conflict) (Frone, Russell & Cooper, 1992). Individuals with higher levels of WFC have less positive feelings and are less emotionally attached to their organization (Pandu et al., 2013). WFC affects individuals' health, personal lives, and performance (Mete, Unal & Bilen, 2014; Van Emmerik & Peeters, 2009).

When involvement in work results in a positive emotional state or attitude helping an individual to perform better as a family member, it results in a positive work-family experience called work-family facilitation (WFF)...

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