Technological changes have created a worldwide demand on the part of workers to have more flexibility and control over their schedules, but that control varies among industrialized countries. A study of twenty-one countries undertaken by a team of Graduate Center psychologists and sociologists has identified factors that significantly affect workday flexibility. Their article, “It’s All about Control: Worker Control over Schedule and Hours in Cross-National Context,” due for December publication by Sage in the American Sociological Review, is now available online.
The Graduate Center team consisted of faculty members Karen S. Lyness (Business, Psychology, Liberal Studies MA), Janet C. Gornick (Political Science, Sociology), Pamela Stone (Sociology), and psychology doctoral student Angela R. Grotto. Their study identifies the aspects of country context that affect the level of flexibility. Workers have greater control in countries that are more affluent and that have a more generous welfare state, a higher proportion of unionized workers, and progressive working-time regulations. Second, regardless of country context, having more control is associated with the worker’s own attributes, particularly being male, older, and better educated. Finally, across all twenty-one countries, characteristics of the job itself affect worker control. Those in part-time or self-employed jobs, higher-earning jobs, and jobs with more advancement opportunities have greater workday flexibility.
Furthermore, the study suggests that control or the lack of it has important consequences. In every country, workers with more control over their schedules are more satisfied with their jobs, show more commitment to their employers, and experience less work-family conflict. Having low levels of control is linked to negative outcomes for both male and female workers; however, the adverse consequences are greater for women (who typically have less flexibility), especially with respect to work-family conflict. This adverse effect may be modulated by the country’s policy measures.
The full article is available online; nonsubscribers must pay a fee for access.