Work–Family Conflict and Turnover Intentions Among Scientists and Engineers Working in R&D
In this study we evaluate competing models of the direct and indirect effects of work interference with family (WIF) and family interference with work (FIW) on two turnover intentions relevant to scientists and engineers: (i) leaving R&D for non-R&D work within the same organization and (ii) leaving one’s organization for another one.
A cross-sectional design was used. Our sample consists of almost 500 scientists and engineers in dual-earner families and with dependent care responsibilities.
We find some support for the domain-specific predictors-to-outcomes model: FIW indirectly (but not directly) increases intentions to change organization through work dissatisfaction. Contrary to expectations from the stress management model we find neither direct nor indirect relationships between WIF and turnover intentions.
Our findings suggest that organizations that help employees manage the effects of FIW on work dissatisfaction may be able to reduce the turnover among their technical workforce.
The study examines an overlooked outcome of work-family conflict: turnover intentions. In addition, it provides much needed attention to the implications of workfamily conflict for scientists and engineers, who have received little attention in the work-family conflict literature despite longstanding efforts to understand the relationship between marriage, parenthood, and productivity in these fields.
KeywordsWork–family conflict Scientists and engineers Work dissatisfaction Turnover intentions Stress management
We thank the Center for Innovation Management Studies, formerly at Lehigh University, the Technology Management Research Center, at Rutgers University, and the Sloan Foundation for previous support of this research.
- Aryee, S., Luk, V., & Stone, R. (1998). Family-responsive variables and retention-relevant outcomes among employed parents. Human Relations, 51(1), 73–87.Google Scholar
- Bailyn, L. (1982). Resolving contradictions in technical careers or “What if I like being an engineer?”. Technology Review, 85(8), 40–47.Google Scholar
- Bond, J. T., Thompson, C., Galinsky, E., & Protas, D. (2003). The 2002 national study of changing workforce. New York: Families and Work Institute.Google Scholar
- Buckley, J. E. (2002). Rankings of full-time occupations by earnings, 2000. Monthly labor review online. Available: http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/03/ressum.htm [March, June 15, 2002].
- Catalyst. (1998). Women entrepreneurs: Why companies lose female talent and what they can do about it. New York, NY: Catalyst.Google Scholar
- Cohen, A. (1997). Nonwork influences on withdrawal cognitions: An empirical examination of an overlooked issue. Human Relations, 50(12), 1511–1536.Google Scholar
- Eisenhart, M. A., & Finkel, E. (1998). Women’s science: Learning and succeeding from the margins. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Epstein, C. F. (1992). Constraints on excellence: structural and cultural barriers to the recognition and demonstration of achievement. In H. Zuckerman, J. R. Cole, & J. T. Bruer (Eds.), The outer circle: Women in the scientific community (pp. 239–258). New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Frieze, I. H., & Hanusa, B. H. (1984). Women scientists: Overcoming barriers. In M. W. Steinkamp & M. L. Maehr (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol. 2, pp. 139–163). Greenwich: JAI Press.Google Scholar
- Frone, M. R., Russell, M., & Cooper, M. L. (1995). Relationship of work and family stressors to psychological distress: The independent moderating influence of social support, mastery, active coping, and self-focused attention. In R. Crandall & P. L. Perrewe (Eds.), Occupational stress: A handbook. Washington: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
- Goyette, K., & Xie, Y. (1999). The intersection of immigration and gender: Labor force outcomes of immigrant women scientists. Social Science Quarterly, 80(2), 395–408.Google Scholar
- Greenhaus, J. H., Parasuraman, S., & Collins, K. M. (2001). Career involvement and family involvement as moderators of relationships between work–family conflict and withdrawal from a profession. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 6, 91–100. doi: 10.1037/1076-89126.96.36.199.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Haar, J. (2004). Work–Family conflict and turnover intention: Exploring the moderation effects of perceived work–family support. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 33(1), 35–39.Google Scholar
- House, J. S. (1981). Work stress and social support. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.Google Scholar
- Jacobs, J., & Gerson, K. (1998). Who are the overworked Americans? Review of Social Economy, 56, 442–459.Google Scholar
- Kahn, R. L., Wolfe, D. M., Quinn, R. P., & Snoek, J. D. (1964). Organizational Stress: Studies in role conflict and ambiguity. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Keenan, T. (1980). Stress and the professional engineer. In G. L. Cooper & J. Marshall (Eds.), White collar and professional stress (pp. 189–210). New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Kowalski, K. B., & Beauvais, L. L. (1999, May 1999). The role of social support at the work–family interface: Development of a conceptual model. Paper presented at the Eastern Academy of Management, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
- Kunda, G. (1991). Engineering culture: Control and commitment in a high-tech corporation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
- Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.Google Scholar
- McIlwee, J. S., & Robinson, J. G. (1992). Women in engineering: Gender, power, and the workplace culture. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Meiksins, P., & Whalley, P. (2002). Putting work in its place: A quiet revolution. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Monat, A., & Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Stress and coping: An anthology (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Moos, R. H., & Schaefer, J. A. (1993). Coping resources and processes: Current concepts and measures. In L. Goldberger & S. Breznitz (Eds.), Handbook of stress: Theoretical and clinical aspects (2nd ed., pp. 234–257). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Morse, M. (1995). Women changing science: Voices from a field in transition. New York, NY: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
- National Science Foundation. (2000). Land of plenty: Diversity as America’s competitive edge in science, engineering, and technology: Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development.Google Scholar
- OECD. (2001). OECD science, technology, and industry scoreboard 2001—toward a knowledge-based economy. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
- Pedhazur, E. J. (1982). Multiple regression in behavioral research: Explanation and prediction. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
- Pedhazur, E. J., & Schmelkin, L. P. (1991). Measurement, design, and analysis: An integrated approach. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Perlow, L. A. (1997). Finding time. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Pleck, J.H., Staines, G.L., & Lang, L. (1980). Conflict between work and family. Monthly Labor Review, 103(3), 29–31.Google Scholar
- Preacher, K. J., & Leonardelli, G. J. (2003). Calculation for the Sobel test: An interactive calculation tool for mediation tests. Available: http://www.unc.edu/~preacher/sobel/sobel.htm, [2006, June 5; 2005, September 1].
- Preston, A. E. (2004). Leaving science: Occupational exit from scientific careers. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Rogers, E. M., & Larsen, J. K. (1984). Silicon valley fever: Growth of high-technology culture. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Schiebinger, L. (1999). Has feminism changed science?. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Schlenker, B. R. (1987). Threats to identity: Self-identification and social stress. In C. R. Snyder & C. E. Ford (Eds.), Clinical and social psychological perspectives (pp. 273–321). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
- Sekaran, U., & Hall, D. T. (1989). Asynchronism in dual-career and family linkages. In M. B. Arthur, D. T. Hall, & B. S. Lawrence (Eds.), Handbook on career theory (pp. 159–180). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Seymour, E., & Hewitt, N. M. (1994). Talking about leaving: Factors contributing to high attrition rates among science, mathematics, and engineering undergraduate majors. Boulder: Bureau of Sociological Research, University of Colorado.Google Scholar
- Shellenbarger, S. (1999, November 17, 1999). What job candidates really want to know: Will I have a life? Wall Street Journal, p. B1.Google Scholar
- Sindermann, C. J. (1982). Winning the games scientists play. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
- Skinner, D. A. (1984). Dual-career family stress and coping. In P. Voydanoff (Ed.), Work and family: Changing roles of men and women (pp. 261–271). Palo Alto, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.Google Scholar
- Soat, D. M. (1996). Managing engineers and technical employees: How to attract, motivate, and retain excellent people. Boston: Artech House.Google Scholar
- Tang, J. (2000). Doing engineering: The career attainment and mobility of Caucasian, Black and Asian-American engineers. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
- von Krogh, G., Nonaka, I., & Nishiguchi, T. (2000). Knowledge creation: A source of value. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
- Wallace, J. E. (1997). Becker’s side-bet theory of commitment revisited: Is it time for a moratorium or a resurrection? Human Relations, 50(6), 727–799.Google Scholar
- Wilkinson, R. K. (1998). Employment of scientists and engineers reaches 3.2 million in 1995 (NSF 98–325). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.Google Scholar
- Williams, E. S., Konrad, T. R., Scheckler, W. E., Pathman, D. E., Mark, L., McMurray, J., Gerrity, M., & Schwartz, M. (2000). The effects of job satisfaction and perceived stress on the physical and mental health and withdraw intentions of physicians. Paper presented at the the 50th Academy of Management Meeting, Toronto, Canada.Google Scholar
- Yan, S.-L. (1999). The status of Asian American women scientists and engineers in the labor force. Race, Gender, & Class, 6(3), 109–124.Google Scholar