Expert Meeting Groups

Expert Meeting Groups

Fortunate to contributing to a greater good by leading knowledge-generating meetings with prestigious researchers in various fields.

Elevating Fatherhood: Policies, Organizations and Health and Wellbeing

Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA | June 25-26, 2018

A solid body of research has systematically demonstrated that fatherhood involvement has a positive impact not only on children’s health, gender equality, and partners’ satisfaction, but also on fathers themselves and their workplaces. Due to fathers playing a crucial role in child development, we have witnessed a flourishing interest in fathering, fatherhood and fathers in the media, politics and academia.

This meeting took a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the conditions that allow fathers to be as involved as they want to be, and thereby transmit differential advantages to their children.

Despite these relatively new attitudes and behaviors among men towards care and children, together with promising social policies to encourage fathers to be actively involved at home, the revolution is stalling. However, in all countries without exception, mothers continue to devote more time to their children than fathers. Many fathers, despite devoting more time to their children compared to previous generations, continue not to be available at short notice or not to be involved in the care of sick children, thereby not allowing their partners to fully develop themselves in other domains. It is also true that some empirical research draws a type of father who is truly egalitarian, completed involved and with a strong motivation to share parental leave even if this causes financial losses; however they are still purely symbolic.

There are barriers ofr men to be involved fathers. Organizational reasons are the most important factor in explaining the low levels of fatherhood involvement. Even though increasing numbers of organizations are offering flexible work arrangement, there is a clear “underutilization” of flexible policies due to “flexibility stigmas” associated with utilizing/accessing such arrangements. Although the literature has extensively demonstrated that fathers benefit from a “fatherhood premium”, and mothers suffer from a “motherhood penalty”, recent studies suggest that involved fathers may also experience more of a penalty than a premium.

Another domain where there is also an “underutilization” of policies offered to men is in social policy. In the seventies, Nordic countries started to develop policies in order to foster the active involvement of men at home. It is in these countries that we can find a fertile body of research analyzing the use and impact of such policies.

A father’s social class and fatherhood involvement also have a direct impact on their children’s health. For example, infants with a parent working non-standard hours are more likely to have behavioral problems during the first two years of life than infants with parents who work regular shifts. Fatherhood involvement, which is a clear predictor of maternal behavior during the prenatal period, despite remaining understudied, may have consequences for the partner’s health, her pregnancy, and children’s health care.

Human Flourishing, Organizations and Health and the Arts

IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain. March 2020

The study of the good life or Eudaimonia has been a central concern at least since Aristotelian times. This responds to the common experience that we all seek happiness. Today, we are immersed in a new paradoxical boom, where the pursuit of happiness seems to permeate everything (books, media, organizations, talks), but at the same time, it is nowhere, or at least very difficult to achieve. In fact, it is not easy to even find a consensus regarding the meaning of the word happiness. Seligman (2011), one of the fathers of the positive psychology, confirmed that his original view the meaning he referred to was close to that of Aristotle. But, he recently confessed that he now detest the word happiness, since it is overused and has become almost meaningless.

In contrast, Flourishing, could be a (new) term to refer to the good life, or Eudaimonia in his full meaning. For example, Huppert and So (2013) defined human flourishing “as a combination of feeling good and functioning effectively, and the experience that life is going well”. Fredrickson and Losada (2005) define the action of flourish as “to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience”. On the other side, Seligman (2011) considered that human flourishing rests on five pillars, denoted by the handy mnemonic PERMA: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment. In all the definitions, all the scholars seem to agree that human flourishment goes beyond states and outcomes, and certainly includes mental and physical health, but also encompassing happiness and life satisfaction, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, and close social relationships” (VanderWeele, 2017). The term flourishing is now used in family studies (Chen, Kubzanskyc, & VanderWeele, 2019), in ethics (Friedland & Cole, 2019; Melé, 2014), and in many other disciplines. However, this is only the beginning.

In order to discuss the concept human flourishing in a very interdisciplinary way, the experts meeting will discuss “Human Flourishing: Interdisciplinary Perspective”. The meeting will be held at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain from March 23-24, 2020.

This Expert’s Meeting has been organized by Prof. Mireia las Heras Maestro, Research Director of the International Center for Work and Family at IESE Business School, together with Prof. Yasin Rofcanin, Prof. at Bath Business School. The meeting has been generously funded by the Social Trends Institute (STI). The Social Trends Institute is a non-profit independent research center that sponsors examination and dialogue about vital issues involving contemporary society and values (see more information at http://socialtrendsinstitute.org/ ).

The event is an interdisciplinary meeting of scholars, in which participants offer perspectives that draw on their respective fields of study and interest regarding Human Flourishing. The presenters will be:

Panel 1:

Neurosciences
and Health

Panel 2:

Organizations
and Policies

Panel 3:

The Arts, History,
and Literature
  • Carol Ryff, University of Wisconsin – Madison
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  • Christian Waugh, Wake Forest University
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  • Matthew T Lee, Harvard University
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  • Lara Aknin, Simon Fraser University
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  • Colin Strong, IPSOS
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  • Mireia las Heras, IESE Business School
  • Yasin Rofcanin, University of Bath
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  • Marc Grau, UIC and Harvard Kennedy School
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  • Ana Balda Arana, Universidad de Navarra
  • Josep Maria Tarragona
  • Paloma Díaz Soloaga, Universidad Complutense Madrid
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  • Ángel Pérez Martínez, Universidad del Pacífico