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Research Projects

PhD Projects

Aim of the project

Describing and explaining the determinants and consequences of organizational investments in work-family policies in different European countries.


Contact person: Leonie van Breeschoten
 

Theoretical background

Organizations' actions differ significantly in terms of their work-family responsiveness as well as to the extent to which they provide public work-family policies. The causes of these differences are unknown, as of yet. Neither do we know much about the role of the country context. Are ‘family friendly’ oriented organizations driven by financial motives or do they experience institutional pressure?

 

And what are the consequences of (the absence of) work-family policies? Employees have to coordinate their work decisions (such as the take-up of work-family benefits) with both their employer and their partner. Therefore, we will investigate the interdependencies and mutual risks among these three parties. Not all employees have partners, and those who do face different situations, depending on their partners' work situation. We will thefore be paying specific attention to variations in employees’ personal lives.

 

It is often said that using work-family arrangements will lead to greater job satisfac and a better balance between work and family. However, introducing the risks involved for both organization and employee might challenge these ideas. Moreover, the impact of the use of work-life policies on the satisfaction and productivity of co-workers without care responsibilities is virtually unknown to date. This project will study how work-family policies effect both users and non-users. It will also pay attention to how actual use of the policies relates to company performance.

 

This project will acknowledge the heterogeneity among organizations and employees. More specifically, it will investigate whether the causes and consequences of work-family policies vary across countries and if these are different for men and women. Extensive social government programs, to be found e.g. in the Nordic countries, are expected to make it less beneficial for organizations to develop their own policies. Moreover, (organizational) policies are hardly ever gender neutral. For example, if there are no work-family policies available, this is more likely to result in higher turn-over rates for women than for men.

Aim of the project

Describing and explaining the determinants and consequences of organizational investments in long-term employability of older employees in different European countries.

Contact person: Jelle Lössbroek

 

Theoretical background

Many countries are facing unprecedented population aging, which has consequences for the composition of the workforce. Companies increasingly have to rely on the knowledge and skills of older workers; meanwhile, the pool of available workers is shrinking. We will study under what kind of conditions organizations invest in older employees and whether older employees make use of employability arrangements, such as re-training or task expansion. Furthermore, we will be investigating how institutional characteristics affect employability investments.

 

We assume that investments executed by organizations in employability of older employees and subsequently their use by employees depend on the outcome of costs and benefits for both parties, and associated interdependencies. The prospect of retirement influences the costs and benefits perceived by the older employee of, for example, attending a training course. Conversely, when the organization (re-)trains an older employee, it runs the risk of the employee retiring before the investment can be recouped. In other words, the shadow of the future is expected to play a major role in the decision making of both employees and organizations. Moreover, besides productivity related arguments, employers’ investment decisions may be tied to status evaluations of older employees, resulting in age discrimination. Culture and norms are also of influence and comprise tacit prescriptions of behavior and actions from the social environment, whether that be the family, the organization, the sector, or the country to which one belongs.

 

We will closely study the consequences of such investments for both organizations and employees, and how these consequences differ between countries. It could well be the case that organizations with a high rate of older workers profit more from employability regulations for older employees when the country's context is in favor of delayed retirement.

Aim of the project

To establish and explanation for the cooperative behavior of employees in organizations, located in different countries,  based upon the investments in work-life policies offered by these organizations.


Contact person: Nikki van Gerwen

 

Theoretical background

Employers in organizations expect their employees to perform well even without direct monitor. Such cooperative behavior by employees is, however, not self-evident as it might require less effort to shirk at those times when the employer is not monitoring. Cooperation can be facilitated by building cohesive social structures and by reciprocating positive behavior in long-term cooperative relations. Organizational literature shows an abundance of evidence that different aspects of social capital push the productivity of employees upwards. It is likely that solid work-life policies in organizations can foster cooperation by employees as employees will want to reciprocate a positive signal from the employer and also because such policies promote the good atmosphere on the work floor. Alternatively, if work-life policies imply flexibility in work hours and employees meet less, this can put social cohesion among the employees, and thus cooperation, under pressure.

 

In this project, we theoretically elaborate on how work-life policies can affect the interdependencies between employers and employees in organizations and how these effects might depend on characteristics of the countries, organizations, and employees. More generally, hypotheses will be formulated on the extent to which and the mechanisms via which the contextual aspects of organizations affect cooperative behavior by employees.

 

It has been shown that cooperation and reciprocity are commonly found in many different social contexts, however, their set-up in incomparable small-scale societies made interpretation of differences between contexts difficult. By implementing cooperation experiments in a larger number of better comparable organizations in different countries, we can extensively investigate more the effect of social contexts on cooperative tendencies; and in particular we can look at the effect of available work-life policies with regard to cooperation. This allows us to delve deeper into contextual factors which determine cooperation in general, and at the same time provide us with knowledge on the efficacy of work-life policies on the organizational performance.

Post-doc Projects

Aim of the project

Describing and explaining the consequences of decisions made by dual-professional couples regarding residential location and mobility strategies in Europe; decisions based upon the investments in flexibility arrangements offered by the organization.


Contact person: Esther Havekes

 

Theoretical background

Ever increasing female participation in the labor market is at the root of today’s average worker being a member of a two-earner couple, trying to coordinate two occupational careers as well as a family life in both time and place. Since especially higher educational and professional jobs are often regionally fixed, couples need to make decisions about household location and mobility strategies in order to balance the gains and losses of both careers For the majority of the workforce, the commute to and from work is an important aspect of their daily lives, which might cause significant consequences. Commuting not only takes time, it also generates monetary costs, causes stress and intervenes in the relationship between work and family. On the other hand, recent developments in ICT such as telecommuting, “virtual offices” and the increased use of mobile devices at work ensure that work is far less tied to a concrete office building and that commuting time could be time spent well.

 

A large body of research analyzes dual-earner household location and mobility decisions, who decides for a long commute, and the negative consequences of commuting. Although these studies focus on the journey from home-to-work, literature remains remarkably silent about the role of the employer and characteristics of the organization in these processes. Research in the field of work-family balance on the other hand, often lacks information on the possible consequences of couples' decisions about commuting and residential as well as job locations' choices relating to integration of work and care.

 

In this project we investigate to what extent employees take into account employers' investments in, e.g., flextime and flexplace, when making decisions about job and residential locations and mobility strategies which balance work and family needs. Furthermore, the project investigates the consequences of organizational investments in flexibility relating to the performance of each individual employee, their families and the organization itself. In particular, we are interested to what extent the organizational investments are able to mitigate the negative consequences of commuting in terms of creating a better work-life balance, job satisfaction and organizational performance.

Aim of the project

Describing and explaining organizational investments made in work arrangements and training of temporary employees, and the consequences/results of these investments with regard to organizational and employees outcomes in different European countries.

 

Contact person: Zoltán Lippényi

 

Theoretical background

European employees and employers have been experiencing turbulent economic conditions in recent decades. To serve the organizations’ demand for labor flexibility and employees' need of economic and employment security, the 2001 and 2010 European Employment Guidelines advocated European nations to adapt the so-called Danish flexicurity model. Flexicurity promotes liberalizing regulations on temporary employment contracts and employment protection arrangements in order to achieve flexibility; and at the same time this model advocates active labor market policy (e.g., training) to foster the employability of workers and facilitate transitions between jobs. On average, 14 percent of employees in Europe hold temporary work contracts, a figure which in several countries is even above 20 percent, and seen especially among younger employees.
 

Even though flexicurity is considered by many as a sustainable trade-off, temporary employees consistently report the experience of lower job satisfaction, lower job and a lower employment security than permanent employees. The wake of the ‘flexible employment relation’ therefore raises concerns of an increasing polarization of the labor force: a group of insiders with secure and high-quality jobs versus a group of outsiders with temporary, insecure, and low-quality jobs. The flexicurity model particularly emphasizes the partnering role of employers in achieving a favorable balance between flexibility and security. However, to what extent European employers are ‘partners’ is yet unknown, since very few studies consider organizational strategies within different national policy contexts.
 

Investing in temporary workers’ human capital and working arrangements holds an extra ‘problem potential’ for organizations due to the contingent nature of temporary employment relations. The lack of investments in work arrangements and human capital may lead to low level of job satisfaction, performance and employment security among temporary employees, which in turn might affect organizational performance. Yet, it is unknown to what extent flexicurity policies provide incentives or even deter organizations to invest in temporary employees. Moreover, we do not know whether flexicurity mitigates the impact of (under)investments in contracted temporary employees on individual and organizational level outcomes.
 

This research project integrates individual, organizational and national policy levels in

order to better understand the causes and consequences of organizational investments in temporary employees. Furthermore, we aim to examine the outcomes of these investments for organizational performance and for employees’ job satisfaction, work performance, and perceived employability within different national contexts.