Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

James Bowman

Abstract

In the United States, over 50% of women return to paid work after becoming mothers. Mothers who breastfeed are more likely to stop working than peers who chose to use infant formula. The purpose of this research was to explore work commitment among new mothers during the first year of their infant's life. Many of these mothers had skills that were imperative to organizational success, making their retention a priority. The relationship between leadership support for dual roles as mothers and employees had not received attention previously in the literature. This multiple case study analyzed the perceptions of new mothers regarding leader support and its role in their commitment to work. The first research question focused on the role of leader support in a new mother's commitment to working. The second explored a new mother's perception of organizational support of her decision regarding infant feeding. The conceptual framework was based on social learning theory, social role expectation theory, and feminist theory. Twenty-three working mothers were recruited through social media, using purposeful sampling, to participate. The data collection consisted of open-ended interviews, as well as document reviews. The data were retrieved, coded, and analyzed using within case and cross-case analysis for themes, and patterns. Findings yielded 3 primary categories: leadership, priorities, and policies. The results showed that participants needed leader support to successfully manage their dual roles, and maintain their commitment to work. In conclusion, positive social change in workplace communication, paid leave policies, and education have the ability to change long held perceptions about mother's work commitment. The results may help organizations implement new policies that benefit working mothers. These changes will strengthen corporate culture from within, empower employees, and encourage growth, loyalty, and innovation to maintain a competitive edge.