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Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

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Work-life balance, Sales personnel -- Behavior -- Effect of stress on, Sales personnel -- Interpersonal relations, Sales management


Work–family interface conflicts have typically been cast in a negative light due to their detrimental consequences. This study offers new insights by uncovering conditions under which such conflicts may produce both positive and negative effects on salesperson job-related behaviors in the context of B2B sales. Drawing on cognitive appraisal theory as an overarching theoretical framework, the authors suggest that informal controls (i.e., professional control and self-control) have differential moderating effects in salespeople’s primary and secondary appraisal processes when faced with work–family conflict and family–work conflict. Dyadic data from a matched salesperson–customer sample reveals that professional control amplifies, whereas self-control mitigates, the positive effect of work–family conflict on perceived stress. Professional control amplifies the positive effect of stress on in-role behavior, and self-control strengthens positive effects of stress on in-role behavior and customer-directed extra-role behavior while suppressing unethical behavior under high stress. Moreover, the two types of informal controls moderate the direct effects of family–work conflict on salesperson behaviors in an opposite fashion, such that under a strong professional control, family–work conflict reduces in-role and extra-role behaviors and induces unethical behavior, whereas a strong self-control alleviates such detrimental effects. These findings suggest that work–family interface conflicts should be viewed as a double-edged sword capable of producing both positive and negative consequences under certain conditions, offering new theoretical insights and important managerial implications for this prevalent phenomenon in sales management.


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