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Work–life conflict of globally distributed software development personnel: An empirical investigation using border theory

Manju Ahuja, PhD S. Sarker
Information Systems Research. February 1, 2018

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While a key motivation for globally distributed software development (GDSD) is to harness appropriate human capital, ironically, scant attention has been paid to addressing the human resource management issues faced by information technology (IT) professionals involved in this context. One particularly challenging human resource issue is that of work-life conflict (WLC) of the IT professionals involved in GDSD, who routinely experience overlaps and conflicts between their work and personal life domains. While WLC concerns are relevant in almost any contemporary environment, the GDSD context adds several layers of challenges arising from issues such as time differences, requirements instability, and the use of certain systems development methodologies. Recent research indicates that WLC issues go beyond individual concerns and are of strategic importance for talent retention. To develop a deeper understanding of these recognized challenges, we utilize Border Theory as a metatheoretical framework to develop and empirically test a model of organization-related and GDSD-related antecedents of WLC. In addition, we examine the impacts of WLC on job-related outcomes. Our study adopts a mixed-methods design, where an exploratory case along with a review of the literature is used to develop the research model. The model is then tested using a survey of 1,000 GDSD workers in three countries. We believe that our findings are not only of theoretical interest for the information systems discipline but also potentially helpful in improving the working conditions of the GDSD workforce.

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