Conflict in Kenyan Households: An Exploratory Study of Professional Women and Domestic Workers

Gladys Muasya, Judith N. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Considerable research has investigated work/life balance challenges faced by professional women in the West; considerably less research has focused on challenges faced by Sub-Saharan African women, in spite of the dramatic increase in women professionally employed in these countries. One strategy used to cope with work/life challenges is hiring domestic helpers, and interpersonal conflicts often arise between these workers and their female employers. Therefore, this qualitative study focuses on these conflicts that arise in Kenyan households. Seventy university female faculty and staff members completed a questionnaire asking them to describe these conflicts and the conflict strategies they use during these difficult interactions. Follow-up interviews also were conducted. Data analysis revealed specific areas of conflict that reflected the unique dialectical tensions that occur in this work context; for example, the workspace is both public and private and the employer–domestic worker relationship is both intimate and distant. Communication strategies used by these professional women to deal with these conflicts also were identified as were suggestions for reducing conflict and maintaining a collaborative working environment to ensure more equitable and satisfying work relationships. Finally, suggestions for future research as well as theoretical challenges for organizational communication scholarship are presented and discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-402
Number of pages18
JournalHoward Journal of Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management


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