Sex Roles

, Volume 79, Issue 3–4, pp 163–175 | Cite as

Fathers’ Realizations of Parental Leave Plans: Leadership Responsibility as Help or Hindrance?

  • Lisa K. HorvathEmail author
  • Thorana Grether
  • Bettina S. Wiese
Original Article


The present study investigates how fathers realized their parental leave plans with particular consideration of fathers’ leadership responsibility as a potential hindrance. Applying the social cognitive model of career self-management, we expected that fathers with leadership responsibility and those who perceive that they could lose qualifications resulting from a career break would plan shorter leaves before childbirth. Furthermore, self-efficacy beliefs were assumed to be supportive and leadership responsibility to be hindering factors in the final realization of leave plans (after childbirth). A sample of 147 men from Germany, Austria and Switzerland (33% with leadership responsibility) participated in a longitudinal questionnaire study (first measurement before childbirth). Results confirmed that men who expected a loss of qualifications planned shorter leaves. Planned leave length was positively correlated with the actual leave taken. Although leadership responsibility did not predict leave plans in the first place, it had an impact on the realization of leave plans: Fathers without leadership responsibility were more likely to realize their leaves than were fathers with leadership responsibility. Remarkably, men with leadership responsibility shortened their leaves as often as extended it. Self-efficacy beliefs were neither predictive of leave plans nor of realizing them. Our research highlights the importance of organizational support for men in their parental leave planning and realization.


Parental leave Fathers Child care Leadership Social cognitive career theory Career development 



This research was made possible by a grant to the third author from the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant-Nr.: PP00P1_123530). We gratefully acknowledge this support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no potential conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11199_2017_861_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa K. Horvath
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Thorana Grether
    • 1
    • 3
  • Bettina S. Wiese
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Psychology, Personnel and Organizational PsychologyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.TUM School of Management, Chair for Research and Science ManagementTechnical University of MunichMunichGermany
  3. 3.International Department gGmbHKarlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)KarlsruheGermany

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