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Negotiating work and household demands: Effects of conflict management strategies in Dutch households on the labor supply of male and female employees


  • Wotschack, Philip
  • Wittek, Rafael


This paper explains variation in the labor supply of male and female employees by taking into account differences in conflict management strategies in Dutch households. While existing accounts on labor supply either emphasize household restrictions, firm influences or institutional constraints the approach taken here focuses on strategies of spouses to handle time-based interpersonal workhousehold conflicts. Using a sample of 304 male and 238 female cohabiting employees drawn from 30 Dutch organizations, we analyze how gender moderates the effect of conflict management strategies on labor supply, measured as the amount of actual working hours. Building on role congruity theory, we distinguish between two types of conflict management behavior. 'Agentic' strategies are characterized by a low concern for other, and are usually ascribed to a male gender role. 'Communal' strategies are characterized by a high concern for other and are usually ascribed to a female gender role. OLS and multilevel regression analysis supports two hypotheses. First, working women relying on communal strategies to resolve time-allocation conflicts with their male partners will be more successful in achieving their objective to work more hours than women who don't use communal strategies. Second, labor supply of working men increases with their use of agentic strategies. The findings support the proposition from role congruity theory that (in-)congruence between the (male) provider role and a female gender role explains gender differences in the impact of interpersonal conflict management behavior on labor supply.

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  • Wotschack, Philip & Wittek, Rafael, 2006. "Negotiating work and household demands: Effects of conflict management strategies in Dutch households on the labor supply of male and female employees," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment SP I 2006-110, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzblpe:spi2006110

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    1. van der Lippe, Tanja & Siegers, Jacques J, 1994. "Division of Household and Paid Labour between Partners: Effects of Relative Wage Rates and Social Norms," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 109-136.
    2. Michael Bittman & Paula England & Nancy Folbre & George Matheson, 2001. "When Gender Trumps Money: Bargaining and Time in Household Work," JCPR Working Papers 221, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    3. Christine Erhel & Dominique Anxo, 2005. "Irreversibility of Time, Reversibility of Choices? A Transitional Labour Market Approach," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00271955, HAL.
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