Literature review of work and family conflict

This chapter introduces and explains the important theoretical and practical resource for an understanding of the conflict between work and family among married female teachers in Malaysia. This chapter consists of two sections namely; section I: Theoretical framework of work-family conflict from Western and Islamic perspectives. For section II: Literature Review on Work-Family Conflict. Focus of the study is to examine the impact of work-family conflict-efficacy WFC efficacy and religious coping (RC) on work-family conflict (WFC) and well-being among female teachers in Malaysia. The study also validates the instruments. Then, the researcher estimate the relationships. This chapter explained on theoretical perspectives that support the theoretical framework as foundation and background of the study that being conducted.

Apart from that, this section also discusses the basis and background of the study of conceptual framework research on the perspective of theoretical background in Western and Islamic Perspectives. It involves on the development of a model on the relationships among the variables in WFC efficacy, RC, WFC and well-being. Many researchers have attempted to construct a single model for WFC conflict in connection with well-being. Theories and models discussed in this section were the relevant in work-family conflict, which provided significant contributions in the construction of the proposed theoretical framework. The model is based on the theoretical foundations and empirical evidences obtained from literature reviews, which consists of several elements.

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Overviews of Work-family Conflict Theories

Role Theory by Kahn et al.,

Spillover Theory

Conservation of Resources Model (COR)by

Model of Work-Family Role Pressure Incompatibility

Overview of the Theory of Well-being

Model of Teachers Stress by Kyriacou & Sutcliffe)

Social Cognitive Theory by Bandura

Religious Coping Theory by Pargement

Moral Development Theory by Carol Gilligan


Several theories have been received a great deal attention in the literature throughout the past few decades. Most of the studies focused on six competing theories as a theoretical framework in work-family conflict research; role theory, spillover, compensation, segmentation, conservation of resources model (COR) and Integration. In this study, the researcher focuses only on several theories that related to WFC which are role theory, spillover and COR. The main focus of the study is to examine the relationship of WFC efficacy and religious coping (RC) on work-family conflict (WFC) and well-being (WB) of married female teachers in Malaysia.

Work-family conflict is a type of inter-role conflict in which the role demands stemming from one domain (work or family) are incompatible with role demands stemming from another domain (family or work) (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985; Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964).

According to Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, and Rosenthal (1964), roles are the result of expectations of others about appropriate behavior in a particular position. Role conflict is described as the psychological tension that is aroused by conflicting role pressures. Role theory suggests that conflict occurs when individuals engage in multiple roles that are incompatible (Katz & Kahn, 1978). Based on the discussion of the work-family conflict and well-being model, Figure 2.1 provides the summary.

Role Theory
(Kahn et al., 1964)
Spillover Theory
Model of Work-Family Role Pressure
Conservation of Resources Model
Model of Teacher Stress
The Relationship between Personality and Stress
(Bolger and Zuckerman, 1995)
Social Cognitive Theory
(Bandura, 1977)
Religious Coping
(Pargament, 1990)

Role Theory (Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, and Rosenthal, 1964)

Most of the research on the work-family interface has been guided by role theory (e.g., Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964; Katz & Kahn, 1978). According to role theory, the demand of multiple roles has given an impact for well-being. This rationale basically fits the logic of a stressor-strain model (Karasek & Theorell, 1990), with work-family conflict as stressor. Similarly, much of the research on WFC has been based on the premise that multiple roles inevitably create strain (e.g., Frone et al., 1992, Allen & Grigsby, 1997) as suggested by role theory (Katz & Kahn, 1879).Due to limited amount of time and energy that individuals have to fulfill their multiple roles at the same time, they tend to experience stress (Goode, 1960).

Specifically, the role theory (Duxbury & Higgins, 1991) postulates that expectations associated with work and family roles can lead to physical and psychological strain in two ways. First, the demand of multiple roles within the work and family domain can lead to overall increase in workload. Second, expectations surrounding either of these roles can evoke pressures that dominate the time of an individual and interfere with expectations associated with the performance of the other role. However, the usefulness of role theory as a basis for crossover research is that it underscores the inter-relations between a focal person and his / her role senders in the work and family setting.

Spillover Theory

According to the spillover explanation, it may refer to the impact that the satisfaction and affect from the work domain has on the family domain or the impact that the satisfaction and affect from family domain has on the work domain. Additionally, the relationship between work and non-work activities can be positive or negative. Positive spillover refers to situations in which the satisfaction, energy and sense of accomplishment derived from the work environment carry over into the non-work domain.

Conversely, negative spillover occurs when problems, fatigue or frustration carry over from the work domain to the non-work domain (Bartolonme & Evens, 1980). Other researchers have conceptualized spillover in a similar manner. For example, Zedeck and Mosier (1990) asserted that increased satisfaction (dissatisfaction) in the work domain leads to increased satisfaction (dissatisfaction) with life. Spillover is a process whereby experiences in one roles more similar. Research has examined the spillover of mood, values, skills and behaviors from one role to another (Edwards and Rothbard, 2000).

Therefore, spillover is likely to promote work-family conflict when an affect like dissatisfaction with work consistently spills over in to one’s family life, thus increasing role conflict. This role conflict stems from the difficulty associated with trying to maintain a satisfying home life when dissatisfaction from work continues to interfere. Therefore, the central premise of spillover is reciprocity or bidirectional relationship of affect in the work and family domains. In other word, conflict between work and family occurs because the affect from one domain (work) is incompatible with the other domain (family). In this study spillover theory explain the negative effect in dealing with work and family roles respectively.

Model of Work-Family Role Pressure Incompatibility

The model of work-family role pressure incompatibility (figure 2.3) which was proposed by Greenhaus & Beutell (1985) encompassed the antecedents of interrole conflict and offered detailed explanations of the types of interrole conflict, which were used widely by researchers in the work-family interface. The model depicted two main areas, the sources of conflict in both work and nonwork domains and the role pressure incompatibility. The role pressure incompatibility reflected the interrole conflict construct in the present study; and was classified into three forms; time-based conflict, strain-based conflict and behavior-based conflict. However, in this study examined only two forms as defined by Netemeyer et al. (1996, p.401), that work-family conflict as “a form of interrole conflict in which the general demands of, time devoted to and strain created by the job interfere with performing family-related responsibilities.”

Greenhaus & Beutell (1985) proposed the model of work-family role pressure incompatibility (figure 2.3) encompassed the work domain and family domain that explained in detailed the types of interrole conflict, which were used widely by researchers in the work-family interface. The model depicted domains from work and family which affect from three forms of interrole conflict namely; time-based conflict, strain-based conflict and behavior-based conflict. However, in this study examined only two forms as defined by Netemeyer et al. (1996, p.401), that is work-family conflict as “a form of interrole conflict in which the general demands of, time devoted to and strain created by the job interfere with performing family-related responsibilities.”


Illustrative Pressures

Time Young






Strain Family


Low spouse


Behaviour expectations

for Warmth

and Openness

Role Pressure Incompatibility

Time devoted to one role makes it difficult to fulfill requirements for another role.

Strain produced by one role makes it difficult to fulfill requirements of another role

Behaviour required in one role makes it difficult to fulfill requirements of another role.


Illustrative Pressures

Hour worked Time

Inflexible work-



Role conflict Strain

Role Ambiguity



expectations for Behaviour


and objectivity

Negative Sanction for Noncompliance

Role Salience

Figure 2.3. Work-Family Role Pressure Incompatibility (Adapted from Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985: pp.78)

The strength of this model was the conceptual distinctions made among the types of interrole conflict. Therefore, this model assisted in the development of the theoretical framework in the current study by suggesting the different types of interrole conflict to be evaluated in both work-and nonwork-domains. For instance, in work domain, if the amount of working hours were too much makes it difficult to fulfill the roles in family domain.

Conservation of Resources Model (COR; Hobfoll, 1989)

Often work-family researchers have not based their predictions on strong conceptual frameworks (Hobfoll, 1989). The field has been dominated by role theory (Kahn et al., 1964), which is undoubtedly the most cited theory by work-family researchers, together with spillover and segmentation theory (Zedeck & Mosier, 1990). Although these theories offer a rationale for the consequences of work-family conflict, they are limited in explaining actual behavior, interaction between actors, or decision making or prioritizing in case of work-family conflict (Poelmans, 2004).

Thus, to develop a comprehensive theoretical background for this research, the study also included conservation resources model by Hobfoll (1989) that can explain, predict, and help solve problems that individuals face when balancing work and home responsibilities (Clark, 2000, p. 749). Hobfoll explain that when an individual perceives or experiences environmental circumstances that threaten or cause depletion of resources, he or she psychologically responds in ways that minimize loss of resources. For example, resources might include self-esteem and employment (Hobfoll, 1989). In this study, WFC-efficacy and religious coping as resources of work-family conflict that hopes to reduce work-family conflict and increase well-being of married female teachers in Malaysia.

Grandey and Cropanzano (1999) were among the first researchers to apply COR to examine work-family conflict (WFC). They argue that COR theory is an improvement over the use of role theory. Role theory is limited in its ability to explain work-family relationships because it fails to specify moderating variables that might affect the relationship between work-family stressors and stress outcomes. COR theory, in contrast, proposes that “interrole conflict leads to stress because resources are lost in the process of juggling both work and family roles” (p. 352). The role of work and family stress as an antecedent of work-family conflict can also be explained by the COR model as suggested by Grandey and Cropanzano (1999). The COR model proposes that individuals act to acquire and maintain a variety of resources, such as objects, energies, condition and personal characteristic.

COR theory provides a framework for understanding the nature of stress, based on the belief that individuals seek to obtain, build and protect their resources. The theory has been applied to a variety of setting, including community psychology, disaster research, and organizational research. Furthermore, the COR model appears to be a promising perspective for advancing our understanding of work-family relationships.

Overview of the Psychological Well-being Theories

Associations between work-family conflict and psychological distress have been widely explored and suggest that increased conflict is associated with increased psychological distress ( Major et al., 2002; Stephens et al., 2001)

Many different well-being conceptualizations have been provided but, as Gasper (2002), point out, the term ‘well-being’ is a concept or abstraction used to refer to whatever is assessed in an evaluation of a person’s life situation or ‘being’. In short, it is a description of the state of individuals’ life situation. In addition, Easterlin (2001), for example, goes so far as to equate explicitly happiness, subjective well-being, satisfaction, utility, well-being and welfare.

Kathryn & Dianne (2009) argued that employee well-being consists of subjective well-being (life satisfaction and dispositional affect), workplace well-being (job satisfaction and work-related affect) and psychological well-being (self acceptance, positive relations with others, environmental mastery, autonomy, purpose in life and personal growth).

In recent years, researchers, educators, policy-makers and politicians have been directly concerned with well-being, which have been viewed variously as happiness, satisfaction, enjoyment, contentment; and engagement and fulfillment or a combination of these and other, hedonic and eudaimonic factors. It has also been recognized that well-being and the environment are intimately interconnected and may take different forms. Well-being is complex and multifaceted. It is considered as a state and a process. Well-being includes personal, interpersonal and collective needs which influence each other. Well-being may take different forms, which may conflict across groups in society, requiring an overarching settlement. Well-being may also take different forms over the life course of an individual. Interventions to enhance well-being may take different forms. They should be conducted at individual, community and societal level.

In the 50 years since Jahoda’s (1958) seminal report outlining the complexity of defining mental health, significant progress has been made towards the definition and conceptualization of this concept. One noteworthy development was the turn away from definitions of health as the absence of disease (Keyes 2006). Later this was cemented by the work of authors such as Diener (1984), Ryff (1989), Waterman (1993) and Ryff and Keyes (1995). Essentially they argued that mental health should be defined as the presence of wellness rather than the absence of disease.

Some speculation surrounds the causal ordering of these two constructs; some believe life satisfaction is a determinant of job satisfaction (whereby overall life satisfaction ‘spills over’ into satisfaction with life domains) whilst others believe job satisfaction is one of the determinants of overall life satisfaction (Rode 2004). However, the title of the paper, “Building a Better Theory of Well-being prepared by Easterlin (2007) shows that Western theories of well-being were inconclusive.

Model of Teacher Stress (cf. Kyriacou & Sutcliffe, 1978a, p.3)

Kyriacou and Sutcliffe (1978a) adopted the theoretical conceptualization of Lazarus to predict school teachers’ stress reactions. Figure 2.4 presents a simplified version of the model. According to the model, potential stressors are seen as antecedents of teacher stress.

Characteristic of the Individual Teacher

Biographical personality e.g. support, self-efficacy

Teacher Stress

Negative effects

Response correlates psychological physiological behavioural

Chronic Symptoms

Psychosomatic coronary mental

Coping Mechanisms

To reduce perceived threat

Potential Stressors

Physical psychological

Figure 2.4 A Model of Teacher Stress (cf. Kyriacou & Sytcliffe, 1978a, p.3)

Kyriacou and Sutcliffe (1978a) make an explicit distinction between stressors which are mainly physical (e.g., many pupils in the classes) and those which are essentially psychological (e.g., poor relationships with colleagues). Coping attempts can help to deal with stressful situations, that is, to reduce the perceived threat of those situations. If coping mechanisms are inappropriate, stress occurs. Teacher stress is seen mainly as a negative affect with diverse psychological (e.g., job dissatisfaction), physiological (e.g., high blood pressure), and behavioral (e.g., absenteeism) correlates. In the long run these negative stress effects lead to physiological and biochemical changes accompanied by psychosomatic and even chronic symptoms like coronary heart diseases. Finally, characteristics of the individual teacher are assumed to influence the process. Based on this model, the present study examined WFC-efficacy as a characteristic of the individual teacher on WFC and well-being and religious coping as a coping mechanism considered as a predictors in dealing with WFC and well-being.

To be clear, WFC is the main dependent variable and well-being as a second dependent variable. WFC-efficacy and religious coping are analyzed as predictors of WFC and well-being Furthermore, the study also integrate WFC as a mediator between both predictors respectively.

Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory

Perceived self-efficacy is concerned with judgments of personal capability, whereas self-esteem is concerned with judgments of self-worth. People make causal contributions to their own psychosocial functioning through mechanisms of personal agency. Among the mechanisms of agency, none is more central or pervasive than people’s beliefs of personal efficacy. Perceived self-efficacy refers to beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations. Efficacy beliefs influence how people think, feel, motivate themselves, and act. A central question in any theory of cognitive regulation of motivation, affect, and action concerns the issues of causality. Do efficacy beliefs operate as causal factors in human functioning? The findings of diverse causal tests, in which efficacy beliefs are systematically varied, are consistent in showing that such beliefs contribute significantly to human motivation and attainments (Bandura, 1992a).

The substantial body of research on the diverse effects of perceived personal efficacy can be summarized as follows: people who have a low sense of efficacy in given domains shy away from difficult tasks, which they view as personal threats. They have low aspirations and weak commitment to the goals they choose to pursue. When face with difficult tasks, they dwell on their personal deficiencies, the obstacles they will encounter, and all kinds of adverse outcomes.

Bandura’s social cognitive theory states that behavior, environment, and person/cognitive factors are all important in understanding personality. Bandura coined the term reciprocal determinism to describe the way behavior, environment, and person/cognitive factors interact to create personality.


Person and cognitive Environment factors

Figure 2.6 Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory

Bandura’s social cognitive theory emphasizes reciprocal influences of behavior, environment, and person/cognitive factors. The environment can determine a person’s behavior, and the person can act to change the environment. Similarly, person/cognitive factors can both influence behavior and be influenced by behavior.

Self-efficacy is the belief that one can master a situation and produce positive outcomes. Bandura and the others have shown that self-efficacy is related to a number of positive developments in people’s lives, including solving problems, becoming more sociable, initiating a diet or an exercise program and maintaining it, and quitting smoking (Bandura, 2001, 2006, 2007a, 2007b; Schunk, 2008; Schunk & Zimmerman, 2006). Self-efficacy influences whether people even try to develop healthy habits, as well as how much effort they expend in coping with stress, how long they persist in the face of obstacles, and how much stress and pain they experience (Fisher, & Schilinger, 2006). Researchers also have found that self-efficacy is linked with successful job interviewing and job performance (Judge & Bono, 2001; Tay, Ang, & Van Dyne, 2006).

Making positive changes to promote our health can be challenge. But fortunately, we all have a variety of psychological and social tools at our disposal to help us in the journey to a new, healthier life. There are three powerful tools: self-efficacy, motivation, and religious faith. Self-efficacy is the individual’s belief that he or she can master a situation and produce positive outcomes. If there is a problem to be fixed, self-efficacy-that is, having a can-do attitude-is related to finding a solution. Self-efficacy is the power of belief in you. Not only self-efficacy related to initiating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle; religious faith is, too (Krause, 2006; Park, 2007).

Pargament’s Religious Coping Theory (1990)

Religious-coping responses may eliminate or resolve the stressful probe, thereby preserving or improving the health of the person. Such a hypothesis suggests a model of religious commitment that has both direct and indirect effects on health, with the indirect effects operating through religious support as well as religious coping. Religious coping is dealing with life effectively within the research for significance toward the sacred (Pargament, 1997).

Pargament (1990, 1997) suggested a process through which religion plays a part in coping. The process of coping activities and coping outcome, and religion can be a part of each of the central constructs of coping. Religion can contribute to the coping process, shaping the character of live events. In addition, religion itself is shaped by the elements of this process. People bring with them a system of general beliefs, practices, aspirations, and relationships which affect how they deal with difficult moments. A number of studies have definitely linked religious participation to a longer life (Hummer & others, 2004; Krause, 2006; McCullough & others, 2000).

Religious-coping responses may eliminate or resolve the stressful probe, thereby preserving or improving the health of the person. Such a hypothesis suggests a model of religious commitment that has both direct and indirect effects on health, with the indirect effects operating through religious support as well as religious coping. Religious coping is dealing with life effectively within the research for significance toward the sacred (Pargament, 1997).

Religious coping is expressed in the cognitive construction of the triggering event, in the ends sought and in the methods used to reach these ends. Religious coping may be involved in the conservation or transformation of ends. Pargament’s (1997) model is potentially useful in determining how this religious coping influence work-family conflict.

Pargament (1997) proposed a model that integrates religion into Lazarus and Folkman’s (1984) classic tripartite theory of coping consisting of primary and secondary appraisals of a stressor; cognitive or behavioral strategies to deal with the event; and sought-after outcomes of coping. Specifically, Pargament (1997) theorized that life events can be interpreted in religious term (i.e., religious coping appraisals), that religion offers people of all ages unique religious pathways to cope with s tress (i.e., religious coping processes), and that religion can imbue with sacred significance the destinations that people strive to reach by means of coping processes.

In Pargament’s model, “religious coping” is a broad construct, defined as “a search for significance in times of stress in ways related to the sacred” (Pargament, 1996, 1997). The term the sacred highlights what makes religion unique. The core of the sacred consists of concepts of God, the divine, and the transcendent, but virtually any object can become part of the sacred through its association with or representation of divinity (Pargament & Mahoney, in press). And, unlike other personal and social institutions, religion connects the search for significance during times of stress with higher powers and beliefs, experiences, rituals and institutions associated with supernatural forces. In this frame of reference, “spirituality” is conceptualized as the heart of religion and defined as “the search for the sacred” (Pargament & Mahoney, 2002).

Issues on Feminism in Work-Family Conflict
Carol Gilligan’s Moral Development Theory

As human beings grow we somehow develop the ability to assess what is right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. In other words; we develop morality, a system of learned attitudes about social practices, institutions, and individual behavior used to evaluate situations and behavior as good or bad, right or wrong (Lefton, 2000). One theorist, Carol Gilligan, found that morality develops by looking at much more than justice. The following will discuss the morality development theory of Carol Gilligan and its implications.

Carol Gilligan was the first to consider gender differences in her research with the mental processes of males and females in their moral development. In general, Gilligan noted differences between girls and boys in their feelings towards caring, relationships, and connections with other people. More specifically Gilligan noted that girls are more concerned with care, relationships, and connections with other people than boys (Lefton, 2000). Thus, Gilligan hypothesized that as younger children girls are more inclined towards caring and boys are more inclined towards justice (Lefton, 2000). Gilligan suggests this difference is due to gender and the child’s relationship with the mother (Lefton, 2000).

Kohlberg’s theory is comprised of three levels of moral development becoming more complex. Kohlberg’s moral development theory did not take into account gender, and from Kohlberg’s theory Gilligan found that girls do in-fact develop moral orientations differently than boys. According to Gilligan, the central moral problem for women is the conflict between self and other. Within Gilligan’s theoretical framework for moral development in females, she provides a sequence of three levels (Belknap, 2000).

At level one of Gilligan’s theoretical framework a woman’s orientations is towards individual survival (Belknap, 2000); the self is the sole object of concern. The first transition that takes place is from being selfish to being responsible. At level two the main concern is that goodness is equated with self-sacrifice (Belknap, 2000). This level is where a woman adopts societal values and social membership. Gilligan refers to the second transition from level two to level three as the transition from goodness to truth (Belknap, 2000). Here, the needs of the self must be deliberately uncovered; as they are uncovered the woman begins to consider the consequences of the self and other (Belknap, 2000).

One study by Gilligan & Attanucci (1988) looked at the distinction between care and justice perspectives with men and women, primarily adolescence and adults when faced with real-life dilemmas. The study showed that: a) concerns about justice and care are represented in people’s thinking about real-life moral dilemmas, but that people tend to focus on one or the other depending on gender, and b) there is an association between moral orientation and gender such that women focus on care dilemmas and men focus on justice dilemmas (Gilligan & Attanucci, 1988).

Gilligan’s theory has had both positive and negative implications in the field of psychology. One positive implication is that her work has influenced other psychologists in their evaluations of morality. Also, Gilligan’s work highlights that people think about other people in a humanly caring way. Gilligan also emphasized that both men and women think about caring when faced with relationship dilemmas, similarly both are likely to focus on justice when faced with dilemmas involving others rights.

On the other hand, the most criticized element to her theory is that it follows the stereotype of women as nurturing, men as logical. The participants of Gilligan’s research are limited to mostly white, middle class children and adults (Woods, 1996. In general, literature reviews have provided that Gilligan’s work needs a broader more multicultural basis. In work-family conflict study, Gilligan’s theory can explain regarding the different between female and male in handling work and family domain as general. The moral orientations and development of women in this theory has shows that women is more caring or in other word more responsible in terms of handling family related condition compare to men.

In summary, Carol Gilligan has provided a framework for the moral orientations and development of women. Gilligan’s theory is comprised of three stages: self-interest, self-sacrifice, and post-conventional thinking where each level is more complex. Overall, Gilligan found that girls do develop morality, differently than others. Gilligan’s theory holds particular implications for adolescent girls specifically as this is typically when they enter the transition from level two to level three. However, as do all theories Gilligan’s has advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when looking at moral orientations.

The History of Work-Family Conflict Construct

Since its early development, theoretical discourse in the field of work-family conflict has been confined to a few dominant theories, such as role theory (Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek & Rosenthal, 1964; Katz & Kahn, 1978) and spillover theory (Zedeck & Mosier, 1990). Since Zedeck’s (1992) call for the refinement and development of theory in the work-family field, a series of alternative theories have been suggested as a conceptual basis for explaining work-family conflict, such as Hobfoll’s (1989) conservation of resources theory (Grandey & Cropanzano, 1999).

Most research on the work-family interface has focused on work-family conflict (Allen et al., 2000). Conflict between work and

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