Achieving Peak Performance
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Cary L. Cooper and Ronald J. Burke
Chapter 11: Who’s Minding the Kids? Work and Family Issues Among Owners of Small Business Enterprises in Ireland
Eileen Drew and Anne Laure Humbert This chapter addresses the largely under-researched theme of how entrepreneurs in Ireland manage their business lives in parallel with their family commitments, with specific reference to dependent children. Since the emergence of dual-earner couples as “typical”, there has been an expanding attention to the working lives of parents and the issue of work–family conflict in the context of employment. This strand of literature sought to explain patterns of working, for example, sector of employment, hours of work and flexibility, in terms of highly gendered preferences. The discourse has moved from woman/mother/family-friendly to more gender-neutral work–life balance (WLB), in tracking the responses of organizations to the needs of their employees, in the broader context of ability to provide family care. Some research examined both sides of the “reconciliation” divide by surveying the needs of employers and employees (Drew et al., 2003; O’Brien & Shemilt, 2003). These and subsequent studies noted that even in organizations with well-developed policies in place, take-up of WLB arrangements was highly gendered and associated with lower-level occupations (clerical/administrative). It has been further observed that, in an Irish context, managers fail to lead by example (Drew & Murtagh, 2005) and often adopt a gatekeeping role in the practice and availability of WLB arrangements for themselves and their staff (Drew & Daverth, 2009). With the growth of smaller enterprises a gap is evident in our knowledge of how entrepreneurs behave in their unique multi-functional roles (as owner employer/employee), particularly when they become parents. Managers...
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