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Part Time Bosses – Rare in Europe’s Boardrooms

Posted August 23, 2013

Dual or tandem leadership – new models in working hours for management are often discussed in the media. Reality looks different: In Europe, few managers in leadership positions reduce their working hours. Researchers at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), Lena Hipp and Stefan Stuth, came to this conclusion following a study of management and part-time work.

Comparison between 19 countries shows big differences within Europe and between the different industries. In some countries, managers are better able than others to implement their wish to work part-time. In Germany, only 5 percent of all managers work part-time, i.e. less than 30 hours per week, while 8 percent in the UK and 12 percent in the Netherlands can be counted as “part-time” managers. Lena Hipp and Stefan Stuth explain, “Managers are most likely to reduce their working hours in countries where part-time employment is already widespread.”

Women in management positions work part-time more often than men: in Germany 14.6 percent of women, but only 1.2 percent of men. In the Netherlands, 31.5 percent of women and 4.1 percent of men in management have reduced their number of hours. It is particularly rare to find people working part-time who are self-employed or who are managers in large companies. Even industry-specific differences are considerable: Whereas part-time managers in Germany most frequently work in areas of education, health and public administration (9.3 percent), part-time managers in the manufacturing sector at 1.2 percent are the exception.

Desire and reality diverge in many countries. In the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Austria and Greece between 25 and 35 percent of managers would like to reduce their working hours by at least five hours per week. In Germany, however, it looks different: only 5 percent are interested in reduced working hours.

According to Hipp and Stuth, the reasons why part-time work in management is so uncommon in Europe rest in the work culture and expectations of executives. In countries like Lithuania and Greece, where traditional gender norms prevail, managers reduce their working hours less than in countries where attitudes towards working mother’s and fathers’ involvement in domestic and family work are more progressive, such as in Belgium. Even in countries where leaders work long hours, such as in France, there are hardly any part-time managers.

The two researchers see part-time work as a positive means of personnel policy. Hipp and Stuth make clear that if more bosses would be willing to reduce their working hours, part-time work would be upgraded. Working time reductions in management staff can also contribute to the reduction of gender segregation in the labor market. Positions are more accessible to women if management tasks can also be performed part time.

Source: WZB

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