Time: Biannually, July
The International Center for Work and Family founded an academic forum in 2005 –the International Conference of Work and Family- to create a vision and to build theory, with special attention to the cross-cultural dimension and the application of theory in an organizational context. Speakers for the last conferences have included: Erin Kelly (MIT Management School), Kathleen E. Christensen (Sloan Foundation), Ellen Kossek (Purdue University), Tammy Allen (University of South Florida), Stephen Sweet (Ithaca College), Tim Hall (Boston University), Brad Harrington (Boston College), Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes (Boston College), Nancy Rothbard (Wharton) and Lisa Leslie (NYU Stern) among others.
The 8th bi-annual International Conference of Work & Family aims to focus on the role of Work-Family in the Pursuit of Happiness, as well as on employees’ needs, motivations and desires. We hope to explore new forms of flexibility, and how they relate to positive outcomes.
Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence tied the American national project to pursuing happiness. In fact, one could argue that we all are “happiness seekers”. Yet, not all of us are happy. The world happiness report of 2017 shows that the key antecedents to happiness are having someone to count on, generosity, a sense of freedom and lack of corruption. Thus, it seems, organizations have a lot to do and say to enable (and not to hinder) people happiness. Moreover, in 2017 Norway was 1st in its citizens’ level of happiness, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. Is it a coincidence that those countries rank high in work family friendliness as well? All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.
Evolutionary psychology sees the pursuit of happiness as a motivation for positive choices. Should organizations maximize collective and aggregate happiness? Does work Family Balance, Facilitation and/or Integration foster positive choices as well? Would that be sound business for organizations?
Finally, today’s world moves between two opposite extremes: On the one hand, a radical move towards capitalism insist in the need to make decisions exclusively guided by economic criteria; On the other hand, a new movement of populism insists in the need of putting aside ambition and achievements in the material world. Yet, we need to explore further how, and under what circumstances, work life polices, practices and culture enable happiness and contribute to economic growth.