Agency and Capabilities in Managerial Positions: Hungarian Fathers’ Use of Workplace Flexibility

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

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Agency and Capabilities in Managerial Positions: Hungarian Fathers’ Use of Workplace Flexibility


  • Nikolett Geszler Centre for Gender and Culture, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary


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Abstract:  This article analyses the agency freedom of manager fathers in Hungary to claim work–family balance through corporate flexible working arrangements. Hobson’s interpretation of Sen’s capability approach (Hobson, Fahlén, & Takács, 2011) is applied to appraise the effect of individual resources and organizational and national context on managers’ work–family balance, as well as their influence on organizational culture. An interview-based case study was undertaken at the Hungarian subsidiary of a Scandinavian multinational company, wherein 43 personal interviews were conducted with fathers in managerial positions. The interviews were analysed according to structuring qualitative content analysis. Managers benefitted from corporate flexibility (home office and flexible schedule), but experienced power asymmetries in terms of access to and use of the former according to hierarchy and department. Even though the men in these positions are assumed to be change agents, the majority of them perceived limited agency freedom to convert flexible working into work–family balance, or to influence organizational culture. The privileged position of managers was detected at the level of their individual agency. Most managers could economically afford to maintain a male breadwinner model. Therefore, limitations related to securing parental and flexibility rights were due to traditional gender norms, and the strong sense of entitlement to work. Consequently, the extent and means of use of flexibility did not challenge deeply rooted assumptions about ideal employee norms.

Keywords:  agency; capabilities; fatherhood; flexibility; managers; work–family balance

Published:   9 October 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v8i4.2969


© Nikolett Geszler. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.