An international research collaboration between the Department of Family Medicine and the University of Cape Town in South Africa highlights the ability of mixed methods research to deepen the understanding of work-family issues in diverse, multinational contexts.
Tim Guetterman, Ph.D., MA, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan collaborated with Ameeta Jaga, Ph.D., associate professor of Organizational Psychology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, to advocate for a mixed-methods research (MMR) approach to inform HR policies in their paper titled “The value of mixed methods work-family research for human resource management: a review and agenda. ”
The paper was recently published in the International Journal of Human Resource Management.
Managing work-life challenges that employees face is increasingly important for international human resource management as they seek to attract and retain a diverse workforce. An increased understanding of work-life issues employees face can inform initiatives to support women’s career advancement, employee well-being, job satisfaction and performance, and employee commitment to the company.
The authors argue that policies addressing work-life balance that apply to individuals and their families in North American and European cultures often don’t work well for employees rooted in family environments from other cultures.
“As populations become increasingly diverse worldwide, there is a need for contemporary methods that are sensitive to the work-family interface to inform contextually relevant policies,” the authors write. “MMR findings allow international HR managers to take employee diversity and local complexities into account when developing globally responsive work policies.”
In particular, the authors emphasize that multinational organizations with a presence in Asian, African and South American countries must consider aspects of the specific country’s political ideology, sociocultural values and economic realities -- all of which impact employees and their ability to perform on the job.
By leveraging both qualitative and quantitative methods through the mixed methods approach, the authors argue that HR managers can reduce bias in policies meant to improve work-life balance of employees.,
As companies respond to complex operating environments, including work-life policy responses driven by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, “MMR designs can be especially helpful in understanding new issues that have implications for international HR managers,” Jaga and Guetterman write.