Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation

Document Type



The U.S. is home to one of the largest Jamaican populations residing outside of Jamaica and comprises over 50% of the U.S.-Caribbean workforce. Despite this, the experiences of Jamaican mothers who balance domestic work and families abroad–a phenomenon known as transnational motherhood – is often overlooked in research on work-family balance. Currently, a need exists to further explore work-family balance (WFB) as the lack of it has been associated with negative organizational outcomes. The purpose of this dissertation is to understand the WFB experiences of Jamaican transnational mothers and to explore the role of institutional/national policies and culture on WFB experiences. The overarching research question that guided the inquiry is: What are the experiences of Jamaican transnational mothers who balance their work in the US and their children abroad? The secondary question is how do institutional/national policies and culture affect the WFB experiences of Jamaican transnational mothers?

This study used a phenomenological approach to collect and analyze the data. The sample consisted of nine participants and data were derived from in-depth interviews. The overall essence of the Jamaican transnational mother’s lived experience is that they found meaning in their experiences through the constant negotiation of various internal psychological forces and external institutional forces with hopes of satisfying the needs of their children while satisfying cross-domain demands. This was revealed through four major themes: (a) human capital; (b) degree of dispersion; (c) location; and (d) length of separation. This study used Cho and Allen (2018) framework and an interpretive approach to help interpret their experiences.

The study’s findings provided insights on the demands, resources, and challenges that Jamaican transnational mothers face when navigating their work and family domain. Issues of power, privilege and discrimination were salient, and mothers WFB experiences were negatively impacted by institutional forces such as US immigration policies, gendered ideologies, and cultural expectations. The findings have implications for future policy, practice, and theory. Recommendations are offered to organizations, practitioners, and policymakers to help support transnationals mothers in their pursuit of WFB, while also helping to alleviate some of the challenges they may encounter.



Committee Chair

Roberts, Frank R.