Acculturation and individualism as predictors of work-family conflict in a diverse workforce

Kristine J. Olson, Ann H. Huffman, Pedro I. Leiva, Satoris S. Culbertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Ethnic and cultural diversity is an increasing reality in the US workplace. The current study highlights the importance of acknowledging the culturally heterogeneous nature of ethnic groups, and the need to focus on social identity characteristics such as cultural values when assessing group differences. We demonstrate that cultural values (i.e., individualism) contribute to employees' experiences of work-family conflict beyond the effects of ethnicity. Specifically, we introduce a model informed by social identity theory that explains why acculturation is related to work-family conflict. The model was tested with a sample of 309 employed Caucasian and Hispanic Americans. An empirical test of our model provides evidence that individualism mediates the relationship between language- and social-based acculturation and work-family conflict, even when controlling for ethnicity. Additionally, alternative models further reveal that the effects of acculturation and individualism contribute to work interfering with family. As an implication of the current study, we suggest that researchers and organizational managers should consider the cultural values of their diverse workforce when implementing policies that affect conflict between work and family.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-769
Number of pages29
JournalHuman Resource Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • Diversity
  • Social identity theory
  • Work-family conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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