Systematic approach to work-life balance research: theoretical development and empirical examination
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date02/12/2022
Work–life balance research has been extensively studied in Western contexts with a focus on high-income and industrialized societies. However, it is not clear whether this largely Western conceptualization of work–life balance, applying a segmentation-oriented perspective, would be applicable for employees working in fast-changing, low-income, and/or pre-industrial societies. This thesis contributes to extant work–life balance literature by theoretically advancing and empirically applying a systematic approach to analyze the interactions between individuals’ work–life experiences and their external environment, encompassing multiple social systems across the societal, workplace, and micro levels. Specifically, I address the research aim of a systematic analysis on the individuals’ work–life experiences and their multilevel social environment by means of the following three studies: Study 1 (see CHAPTER 3) undertakes a multi-disciplinary systematic literature review and offers a systematic theoretical framework and future research agenda for process-oriented, multilevel, and multidimensional analyses of work–life balance support mechanisms. This review draws out the systematic and synergistic cooperation between individuals and their environments in order to mobilize sufficient resources for meeting individuals’ work–life demands and achieving better work–life balance. Study 2 (see CHAPTER 4) offers a longitudinal quantitative study that examines how work and parental demands and resources from workplace- and micro-level social systems simultaneously shape the age-old but under-studied “time–money conundrum” and how it may influence British working mothers’ work–life balance satisfaction and job retention via three mechanisms: resource depletion, resource accumulation, and resource investment. Study 3 (see CHAPTER 5) is an exploratory qualitative study which advances a holistic perspective of work–life balance and offers a systematic analytical framework for explicating the contextualized relationships between societal development patterns and people’s demands, resources, and work–life experiences in the specific context of China through the lens of modernization theory. This holistic perspective underlines work–life synergy and advocates living a satisfactory life that encompasses complementary work and non-work accomplishments throughout the lifetime. This approach is in contrast to the Western analytic, segmentation-oriented perspective that dominates current work–life balance literature and focuses primarily on the pursuit of minimal conflict between the two distinct spheres of work and personal life.