It Takes Three: Relational Boundary Work, Resilience, and Commitment among Navy Couples. By: Beckman, Christine M.; Stanko, Taryn L. Academy of Management Journal. Apr2020, Vol. 63 Issue 2, p411-439. 29p.

Although scholars have generally focused on how individuals manage their work and home demands, employees, outsiders, and organizations coconstruct work–nonwork boundaries. Using interviews with couples from the U.S. Navy, an organizational context that encourages a mix of segmentation and integration behaviors, we develop the construct of relational boundary work to describe the joint behaviors of multiple parties in a relational system to manage the work–home interface. Drawing on family systems theory, we delineate five couple configurations using two dimensions to describe how couples promote togetherness or separateness (cohesion) and how couples balance stability and change in enacting roles (adjustability). Extreme adjustability (very high or very low) is problematic for resilience; this describes both chaotic (low cohesion, high adjustability) and rigid (low cohesion, low adjustability) couples. Extreme cohesion (very high or very low), in contrast, undermines organizational commitment; this describes enmeshed (high cohesion, moderate adjustability), chaotic, and rigid couples. In contrast, balanced couples (moderate cohesion, moderate adjustability) are both resilient and committed in this organization. An examination of relational boundary work reveals that understanding employees’ behaviors alone may not illuminate outcomes, and underscores the importance of conceptualizing boundaries as cocreated by employees, outsiders, and organizations within a relational system.