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Help when dads need somebody? Follower reactions to leader work-family conflict.

Gloor, J. L. and Braun, S. (2020) 'Help when dads need somebody? Follower reactions to leader work-family conflict.', Academy of management proceedings., 2020 (1).


Perceptions of others’ work-family conflict (WFC) have typically been studied as a top-down phenomenon grounded in gender role theory. This work has consistently revealed negative career consequences for followers whom leaders judge to have higher WFC, particularly female followers. However, we know less about the conditions under which those lower in organizational hierarchies (e.g., followers) notice and respond to leaders’ WFC, if these perceptions might be stronger for male leaders, and if these perceptions predict behavioral outcomes. Integrating insights from expectancy violation and social exchange theories, we propose that followers perceive more leader WFC when leaders work longer hours, have more family ties (i.e., a partner and young children), and are male. Furthermore, we propose that followers respond to male leaders’ WFC positively—with extra effort at work—because family care expectations are traditionally lower for fathers than for mothers, and higher WFC for fathers is a positively violated gender stereotype. Results from a field study and two experiments largely support our predictions. This research highlights a new form of “fatherhood bonus” wherein leaders’ ostensibly negative state–WFC–elicits positive behavioral effects in the form of extra effort from their followers/lower-level evaluators, particularly for male leaders."

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Date accepted:01 April 2020
Date deposited:06 January 2021
Date of first online publication:29 July 2020
Date first made open access:29 July 2021

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