Work-life balance study nets NSF grant for MIS profs

PULLMAN – Professors Saonee Sarker and Suprateek Sarker, both with the WSU College of Business, have been awarded a $352,476 National Science Foundation Grant, in cooperation with their colleague Manju Ahuja, chair and professor of Information Systems at University of Louisville, to study the effects of Work-Life Balance on IT professionals involved in Global Distributed Systems Development (GDSD).
“Our research will help identify key personality-related factors, family-related factors, organizational factors, project-related factors and factors related to the nature of the team distribution that have an impact on Work Life Balance (WLB),” said principal investigator Saonee Sarker.

Dealing with WLB challenges is considered to be a strategic imperative for leading organizations today feeling pressures from the hyper-competitive global business environment and, more recently, the global economic crisis. Employees in these firms are under increasing pressure to work longer hours, thereby leading to the invasion of work-related responsibilities in their personal time. This pattern is especially severe in the arena of Information Systems Development (ISD), where tasks are frequently undertaken by teams that are distributed globally across time and space.

In addressing the human resource issues associated with IT professionals working overseas or in virtual work, the researchers hope to highlight the unique challenges workers in a virtual or distributed setting face. The results of the research will allow them to understand the effect of WLB on worker turnover and organizational commitment, with a focus on the sustainability of GDSD-capable professionals over time. The study will also unearth the effects of work-life imbalance on organizational commitment, turnover among workers and their long-term intention to work in distributed settings.

College of Business Dean Eric R. Spangenberg is excited about the research opportunity and how it fits in with the CB’s mission to foster and create “an awareness of the impact of business on society, the environment and especially the employees.”

“In contemporary organizations, managers are under pressure to demand that employees work longer hours, especially in the face of economic crisis. Socially responsible organizations will need to find ways of being productive while helping employees maintain a healthy balance between life and work to ensure their physical and psychological well-being,” Spangenberg said.

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