Qualitative study of work-family conflict in managerial couples, A. Are we overlooking some fundamental questions?
In this study I explore the phenomenon of work-family conflict in an "unconventional" way. Most studies on work-family conflict are quantitative studies of individuals, based on Anglo-Saxon samples. The contribution of this study is to use a different method (i.e. in-depth interviews) to focus on a different unit of analysis (i.e. managerial couples) in a different context (i.e. Spain). The study suggests that the field may be overlooking some fundamental variables. Content analysis of the interview transcripts reveals the crucial importance of implicit values and beliefs, immanent or tacit actions such as decision-making and learning, and communication and mutual understanding within the couple. The study contributes to the field by suggesting a different theoretical approach to work-family conflict as a decision-making problem. I suggest using social exchange theory to explain work-family conflict as a complex evaluation of costs and benefits of exchanges between multiple actors on the basis of personal values and beliefs. I invite scholars to develop theory along these lines or suggest alternative theory that incorporates these neglected variables, and call for more qualitative and comparative studies to understand the experience of work-family conflict in different collectives. Future research should test whether decision making is central for the understanding of work-family conflict only in managers or in other collectives as well. I recommend the couple as a unit of analysis to address issues such as accommodation within couples and complex decision making in both individuals and couples.
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