The Blame Game

Elizabeth M. Poposki, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, published “The Blame Game: Exploring the Nature and Correlates of Attributions Following Work–Family Conflict” in the May 2011 issue of Group & Organization Management. Professor Poposki kindly provided some background on her article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

Scholars and practitioners interested in work-family and work-life balance issues.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

The challenge individuals face when attempting to manage multiple life roles and goals is fascinating to me, and is informed by my own personal and working life.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Perhaps not surprising, but interesting – I found that people overwhelmingly attributed conflict between work and family to external sources (i.e., they did not blame themselves) and that they were much more likely to attribute the conflict to work than to family (or any other source). I also found a great deal of variance with respect to whether people felt the conflict was stable or unstable, global or local. I think those findings are particularly interesting when you consider that conflict is generally measured as an overall perception where we don’t have the capacity to assess different types of conflict or directions of blame.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

I argue in the paper that researchers should focus more on the process of conflict, or on events of conflict as they occur, rather than on overall perceptions of conflict and their relationships (generally correlational) with antecedents and consequences. Hopefully some of the results will encourage researchers to do just that.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

My overall focus is on work-life issues, with an emphasis on social and cognitive factors impacting the process of conflict – so this paper is very much in line with that.

How did your paper change during the review process?

I received some wonderful feedback and suggestions from the reviewers and editorial team. Largely, the paper became more focused and streamlined.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

I would have more money and time, and measure reactions to more conflict events over time!

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