Family as a source of inequality reproduction in organizations: The role of family impact on work in explaining the class ceiling

Mishra, P (2019) Family as a source of inequality reproduction in organizations: The role of family impact on work in explaining the class ceiling. Doctoral thesis, Singapore Management University.

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Being born into a poorer family is associated with lower socioeconomic attainment even when people are provided with identical educational and job opportunities, a pattern known as the “class ceiling.” The class ceiling is generated within organizations, but specific reasons causing this effect are not well understood. I propose that one important explanation why employees from poorer families do not fare as well as their more fortunate co-workers concerns differences in families themselves. I integrate research from sociology and psychology explaining challenges faced by families with scarce resources with organizational research on specific pathways through which families can interfere with work activities of employees. This theoretical integration suggests that higher family demands (in terms of time and values) and lower family resources (instrumental support and behavioral scripts) among workers from poorer backgrounds cause a negative influence on employee personal resources, and thus act as a mechanism of disadvantage reproduction after workers join the organization. A large field study of early-career employees who managed to obtain a higher education and secure high-potential jobs conducted in Singapore provides support for the model. I propose and test both institutional as well as individual solutions to the problem. I show that higher organizational support can compensate for lower family resources, but I also find that, at present, most organizations fail to provide such support. Second, I develop and test a psychological intervention that helps workers from poorer backgrounds cope more effectively with higher family demands. A two-week field experiment utilizing a dairy study design provides evidence of the effectiveness of the intervention. Taken together, this research uncovers a fundamental process through which the class ceiling is generated and offers solutions to resolve the identified issues, with implications for socioeconomic mobility, employee wellbeing, organizational effectiveness, and a positive role of organizations in the society.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: The Dissertation was published by the author with the affiliation of Singapore Management University
Subjects: Organizational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2023 16:23
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2023 16:23

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