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Work-life balance and parenthood: a comparative review of definitions, equity and enrichment

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date07/2013
JournalInternational Journal of Management Reviews
Journal number3
Volume15
Number of pages17
Pages300-316
Early online date26/06/12
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This review investigates the problems of definition and inequity with which the literature on parenthood and work–life balance is beset. It analyses research trajectories first within the established disciplines of organizational psychology and the sociologies of work and family practices, and then within the newer field of management studies. Gender, class and difference are singled out as troubling themes, especially in relation to fathers and impoverished parents. A tendency towards mono-disciplinarity is observed within organizational psychology and sociologies of work and family practices. The review offers explanations for the historic but narrow definition within organizational psychology and sociologies of work and family practices of work–life balance as affecting mainly heterosexual dual-career parent couples. The authors show how this narrow definition has led to inequities within research. They further identify as limiting the definition of work–life balance to be always ‘problematic’, rather than enriching, among employed parents. Consequently, a three-factor framework is recommended, through which future studies may address the problems of definition and equity in work–life balance literature, including: a broader definition of work–life balance to include marginalized parents; the defining of parenting and employment as potentially life-enriching; and a commendation of the transdisciplinary approach within management studies as poised to move debate forward.