Research grant for African project awarded to EMS team

Posted on August 31, 2015

Prof Jenny Hoobler of the Department of Human Resource Management in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Courtney Masterson, doctoral candidate from the University of Illinois, USA, and Elsabé Buys, MCom Industrial Psychology student were recently awarded the 2014/2015 Emerald African Management Research Fund Award. Prof Hoobler is the Head of the Department’s PhD programme.

Emerald and the Africa Academy of Management, in association with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications and the International Academy of African Business and Development (IAABD), offer a research grant for an African project in the field of management research. Projects should address the dissemination of knowledge for the social good with a specific orientation toward benefit for Africa, and at least one member of the research team must be based in Africa.

The research project submitted by Prof Hoobler’s team is entitled “Crossover of work-family enrichment and work-family conflict: The case of domestic employment in Africa”. Prof Hoobler explains that increasing employment rates for women, coupled with demanding work hours and insufficient organisation-provided family-friendly resources, has meant the explosion of an ‘invisible workforce’ of domestic employees worldwide in recent years, with numbers estimated between 52,6 and 100 million workers. 

“Official numbers for individual African nations are difficult to come by. Based on the 20 countries out of 53 for which databases exist, the International Labour Organisation reports that there are 5,2 million persons employed in domestic work in Africa, 73% of whom are women, and 99% of whom are black,” she says.  

The research team argues that, when working women hire domestic employees as a way to balance the conflicting demands of work and home life, there are positive and negative trickle down effects to domestic employees, who have their own home and family responsibilities. Work-family conflict is defined as role demands from the work domain being incompatible in various ways with role demands from the home and family.

The team paired Greenhaus and Beutell’s three-dimensional framework of work-family conflict, namely time-, strain-, and behavior-based conflict, with Greenhaus and Powell’s five bases of work-family enrichment, namely skills and perspectives, psychological and physical resources, social-capital resources, flexibility, and material resources. They then created their theory by complementing these work-family perspectives with broader psychological theories – interpersonal power and social learning. Finally, they presented possible contextual factors that shape the crossover process, and discussed the complex ways in which social class, gender, and racioethnicity are embedded in this unique but ubiquitous employment relationship. 

For the project, Prof Hoobler’s team aims to quantitatively test their intersectional theory of work-family conflict and enrichment for the first time.

- Author Department of Human Resource Management

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