Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

16588 Work Resources, Work Stress, Work-Family Conflict and Their Consequences At Work Among Garment Workers In Mexico: A Mixed-Methods Study

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 10:30 AM
Wilson (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Hsin Yi Hsiao, MBA , MSc, Ph.D. Student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Michàlle E. Mor Barak, PhD, Lenore Stein-Wood and William S. Wood Professor in Social Work and Business, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
In Mexico, the rate of female participation in the labor force increased to 38% in 2008, up from 32% in 1995 (ILO, 2009). The economic need for additional income in the family can be perceived as a source of stress in Mexico where characterizes traditional gender role expectations. However, work-family research tends to focus narrowly on well-educated professionals in U.S. or European countries, whereas only sparse attention has been given to the experiences of low-wage, low-skilled workers in developing countries. In order to establish generalizability of Western findings by using role and social identity theories to establish the model, the goal of this study was using mixed methods to explore relationships between work resources, work stress, work-family conflict, organizational commitment, and intention to leave among low-skilled Mexican workers in garment industry.

This study used the first wave data from a three-wave longitudinal study “Implementing Lean Manufacturing Systems in a Cross-Cultural Environment,” which was conducted with 236 Mexican workers in a Mexico-based apparel manufacturing plant.Thirty-three workers participated semi-structured interviews. Respondents were predominantly female (86.9%), single (62.3%) and middle-school educated (50.0%). The mean age of respondents was 29.45 years. Among those who had children (46.2%), approximately 40% were single parents.

The results of quantitative analysis using structure equation modeling show that the model fitted the data well (chi-square value = 69.56, df = 55, p >.05; CFI = .95; RMSEA = .034). Mexican workers who received higher levels of support from workplace reported lower levels of work stress. In addition, workers reported higher levels of work stress had experienced higher levels of conflicts in negotiating work and family roles(β = .237, p = .000). Hence, workers with higher levels of work-family conflict were less committed to their organization (β = -1.307, p = .001) and more likely to quit their jobs (β = .971, p = .003). Qualitative findings indicate that family-unfriendly supervision of managers and immediate supervisors, strict corporate leave policies, and the lack of discretion among immediate supervisors were key factors that prevented these workers from meeting their family responsibilities.

This mixed-method study found that work-family conflict is a globalized phenomenon that is prevalent among low-skilled garment workers in Mexico. These workers experienced high work stress which contributed to high levels of work-family conflicts. Family-unfriendly supervision and work climate were key factors that prevented these workers from meeting their family responsibilities. Therefore, many of them with low levels of organizational commitment intended to leave their jobs. The study highlights the importance of the roles of occupational social workers to be as program developers who provide training to supervisors in how to deal with workers' work–family balance issues and how to appropriately administer work–family benefits. In addition, as advocates and consultants occupational social workers educate employers to include these workers' desires for family-friendly practices when implementing codes of conduct and mobilize supervisors to perform as frontline counselors who assist these workers to cope with work-family issues, which may benefits for promoting their well-beings.