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Working Time


Wed 26. 8.  18:00 - 19:30
room FA 548

Work-family conflict of Hungarian male managers


Geszler, Nikolett
Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary

The work-life balance literature starts to acknowledge the importance of analyzing the challenges in work and family harmonization, although first of all as a woman issue, even if the discourse about it is formulated in a gender neutral way. The reason behind this is that the uninterrupted full time model of men is still often taken for granted. However masculinity is not something one dimensional and stable. There are more and more expectations towards men as well to take part in home and care duties, especially in child rearing. Men are not considered only as the economic supporter of the family anymore. Therefore it is not rare if a man faces similar difficulties in harmonizing his life as working women, especially when they diverge from traditional gender roles. Although there is still a huge gap in investigating men’s work-life balance. Besides empirical results show that men in managerial positions often face high level of conflict. Job demands are growing, the competition-driven pressure to be responsive and flexible has forced organizations to downsize and reduce hierarchical levels, adding complexity to managers’ jobs, while family responsibilities are also rising. This might create tension between work and family life. In addition leaders are important in organizational change, especially in new fields and types of change like helping work-life balance in companies. Managers are in a position to help or hinder the development of a family supportive organizational culture, and they can be role models for other employees However even organizational initiatives supporting employees' work-life balance (for example flexible arrangements) are not completely effective. In the globalized world there is a growing importance of information-based economy and shift from fordist to postfordist time regime. The high performance organizations are increasing their expectations towards employees regarding time, energy and commitment. The constant and fast paced change of organizations, the more demanding intensified working practices and environments result in feelings of pressure, lack of time and general busyness. Employees are provided with smart phones and laptops in order to be available and be able to work from home as well. The new kind of information technology, the spread of networks and the increasing number of transnational companies have changed the use of working time and the question of flexibility dramatically. All of these have resulted in the new, flexible time regime promising greater autonomy, which is in sharp contrast to the traditional, industrial fordist time management with its standardized working hours and fix time schedule which draws a clear boundary between work and free time. Formal contracts regulating working time are often replaced by time norms built on moral expectations and total commitment. The expectations and requirements of the so-called greedy corporations are increasing towards employees. In this sense the hegemonic forms of masculinity is still associated with work that entails long hours and behaviors to demonstrate prioritization of the work. Those men constructing masculinity through flexible working might be construed as men rejecting the constraints of hegemonic masculinity. There are no regulations or restrictions to prevent him from working long hours. Long hours culture can demand that employees interested in career mobility work hard and demonstrate commitment and loyalty through being always visible. It seems as his individual responsibility to say ‘stop’ but this does not happen because the pressure is too great on one hand and this kind of knowledge work is a major source of status and identity on the other hand. Therefor the question of harmonizing work and family seems to be a personal responsibility, an own “choice”, while the role of the organizational system is not emphasized. In the boundless time culture work is internalized, being always in the mind of employees without a need for employer to control them. The disciplining processes of empowerment and individualization make the employees themselves the driving force behind the long-hours work culture not noticing this invisible trap. Therefore the aim of my case study is to map how male managers of a multinational telecommunication company in Hungary can harmonize the contradictory expectations of work and home when they are fathers. Although gender roles and the division of labor within the households are still quite traditional in Hungary (which suits the masculine norms of ideal employee), the need to spend quality time with one’s children and the role of relations and private life in general gets more and more attention among young Hungarian fathers as well. Therefore there is a relevance to investigate the topic in regard of male managers. Besides choosing a company with foreign background can help to see how a different organizational frame can influence Hungarian managers’ perception of work-life balance and to what extent is it supporting their needs. The research questions focus on how they perceive and experience the conflicts between their work and family life, how is the organizational frame influencing this perception of work-family conflicts, how do the ideals of involved fathering and managerial identity affect work-family conflict and finally how manager’s partner are supporting their work-life balance. In this conference I would present the preliminary results of 20 qualitative interviews made with male managers of the mentioned company.