Flexible work: ambitious parents' recipe for career success in The Netherlands

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Purpose ‐ This study sets out to examine how gender and ambition are related to work hours and the utilization of other flexible work-home arrangements, and how this use is ‐ in turn ‐ associated with career-related outcomes (i.e. job level, and career satisfaction). Design/methodology/approach ‐ In total, 212 Dutch working parents from different organizations participated in a questionnaire survey. Underpinned by an inter-disciplinary theoretical framework, hypotheses were developed on the associations of gender, ambition, work-home arrangements and career-related outcomes. Findings ‐ It was found that ambitious parents made more use of flexible work-home arrangements and worked more hours per week than less ambitious parents. This relationship was especially strong for mothers. Furthermore, parents' work hours and utilization of flexible arrangements were positively related to their job level and career satisfaction. Finally, the association of ambition with career-related outcomes was mediated by work hours. Practical implications ‐ Employers should support their working parents in using flexible work-home arrangements, thereby simultaneously assisting them in balancing work with care-giving responsibilities, preventing them from losing their ambition, and promoting their career success. Originality/value ‐ The study made a pioneering effort to conceptualise and operationalise career-related ambition. By showing that utilization of flexible work-home arrangements is positively related to career success, the study also adds to the business case for these arrangements. Moreover, the study challenges the popular assumption that Dutch women's ambition vanishes into thin air once they become mothers.

Keywords: Career development; Career satisfaction; Gender; Parents; The Netherlands; Working patterns

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13620431011084411

Publication date: October 26, 2010

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