Role demands and work-family balance experience in Malaysia : the different moderating effects of collectivism and gender role identity among diverse ethnic groups

Aziz, Azelin (2011) Role demands and work-family balance experience in Malaysia : the different moderating effects of collectivism and gender role identity among diverse ethnic groups. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the influence of ethnic cultural values on the relationship of role demands and the work-family balance (WFB) experience. Past studies have found that the demands from work and family roles have a different impact on the work-family experience in people of different ethnicity. Researchers attribute these results to the cultural differences across the groups. However, there has been no empirical support for these assumptions because most past studies did not explicitly measure the cultural dimension in their design. Therefore, although studies have found ethnic differences in work-family experience, as cultural variables were not measured, it cannot be determined whether these differences were due to the differing ethnic groups’ cultural styles. The present thesis is set up to address this limitation in the literature, employing the Malay and Chinese ethnic groups in Malaysia as the study samples. The investigation consisted of pilot interviews and two survey studies. The interviews were carried out to establish the perception of WFB by target participants of a non-western nation. The first survey served to identify whether the Malay and Chinese ethnic groups residing under the same economic and social systems vary in their perceptions of work and family roles. The second survey tests the research model empirically, that is, whether cultural values moderate the relationship between role demands and WFB and if these moderation effects vary across ethnic groups. From the interviews, the results indicated that work-family experience is not a universal experience, but is partly culture-specific. Specifically, in the case of Malaysia, WFB is very much observed from the role obligation perspective. In particular, balance is perceived when work duties and household affairs are both adequately fulfilled. On the other hand, the conceptualisation of WFB in terms of role satisfaction and role interference also emerged in the interviews, suggesting the universality of these constructs across cultures. The findings from Survey One indicated that participants of different ethnicities in this study do not differ greatly in their perceptions regarding their participation in work and family roles. Generally, these participants revealed the less traditional attitudes towards women’s participation in work and family roles. However, variations were observed between the two groups in terms of reasons for working, spouses’ preferences towards their employment, and the extent to which their work role is perceived to impede their normative role performance in the household. Despite these differences, the Malay and Chinese ethnic groups showed more similarities than differences in their perceptions of work and family. The findings from Survey Two, which tested the research model, produced mixed results. On the whole, the results showed that the cultural dimensions examined in this study (i.e. collectivism, work identity and family identity) did influence the relationship between role demands and WFB experience, thus providing empirical evidence for the assumption in the literature that the relationship between role demand and work-family experience is moderated by cultural values. Most importantly, support was found for the proposition that these moderation effects vary between the Malay and Chinese ethnic groups. Moreover, this study also found evidence that Malays and Chinese differ significantly on collectivism and work identity cultural dimensions where Malays are found to be more collectivist than the Chinese, while work identity is stronger in the Chinese than in the Malays. There is no difference in the levels of family identity between the two groups. Of all the three moderators, work identity was deemed the most important because many of the supported hypotheses pertained to the work identity moderating effects. In contrast, family identity does not seem to have much moderating influence on role demand-WFB relationships, while the results for the collectivism moderator are mixed. As such, although not conclusive, it can be deduced that variations in the effects of role demand on work-family experience across ethnicity are a result of the groups’ cultural differences, thereby supporting the assumption in the literature.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

2,745 since deposited on 30 May 2011
254 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 41845
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Chang, Artemis & Kabanoff, Boris
Keywords: work-family balance malaysia, work-family interface, cross-culture, role demands, moderator
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 May 2011 06:47
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 20:02

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page