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Work-family responsiveness in organizations: The influence of resource dependence and institutionalization on program adaptation

Description: Changes in workforce demographics, employee sentiments, and working conditions have increased attention on employees' needs to balance the demands of work life and family life. Despite apparent growing interest among companies to be responsive to these needs, the number of companies demonstrating high levels of work-family responsiveness is relatively small. The frameworks of resource dependence theory and institutional theory were used to develop a model to explain differences in work-family responsiveness among for-profit companies. The theoretical models were tested on survey data collected through a stratified random sample of 692 for-profit companies. The data were further enhanced with secondary data sources. While the institutional model explained more variance in work-family responsiveness than the resource dependence model, a model combining both theories best explains work-family responsiveness among for-profit companies. High industry-region diffusion of family-friendly benefits was one of several strong predictors of work-family responsiveness. Also, the greater the proportion of professionals in a company's industry, the greater was the level of work-family responsiveness. Companies that measured effectiveness outcomes were more likely to offer family-friendly benefits. The same was true for companies with more positive assessments regarding the impact of their family-friendly benefits. Organizations that were large, publicly traded, or had human resource departments also demonstrated greater levels of work-family responsiveness. Future research should include variables introduced in this study and should expand the range of variables as to include other theoretical perspectives. Policy makers for companies, advocacy groups and government leaders will find the results of this study beneficial. Companies operating in environments characterized by strong diffusion of family-friendly benefits among similar companies will be well served by developing policies and programs that conform to these norms. Advocates and government leaders should understand that recent interest in work-family responsiveness is unlikely equally benefit all sectors of employment.
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Date: May 2000
Creator: Ruggiere, Paul
Partner: UNT Libraries