Xu, Mengyi ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5325-0690 (2019) Employee perceptions of work-life balance and formal and informal approaches to work-life management: a case study of China's pharmaceutical sector. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis examines Chinese employees’ perceptions and experience of work-life balance (WLB) and the relationship between management’s formal application of WLB policies and practices, and the reality experienced by the employee. WLB in China has been largely neglected in WLB and HRM literature to date. However, WLB as a socially constructed concept is a worthy topic to be researched in China, given the dynamic external environment and unique management context. The development of HRM within Chinese organisations also provides opportunities for examining WLB approaches in relation to organisational policies and practices. The research strategy is based upon a pragmatist methodological approach and utilises mixed methods research derived from a deductive theoretical framework. A single case study of two Chinese State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) in the pharmaceutical sector is used. The research conducted led to the collection of 312 valid survey responses and 23 semistructured interviews, supported by (limited) documentary sources. In responding to current WLB literature, this adoption of mixed methodology allows an examination and analysis of WLB issues in a non-western context in depth and breadth. The research finds; first, there is no consensus over what WLB means in China. It would appear that employees experience unsustainable WLB due to long working hours, work intensification and limited formal work-life support. Despite this, the dominant views of employees indicate a relatively positive WLB in the sense of work life integration and enrichment. Secondly, Chinese employees’ WLB is rarely considered in strategic HRM. Formal approaches to work-life management rarely exist and are not followed. Consequently, most WLB solutions are reached informally through line management, which can be seen as a double-edged sword in influencing employees’ WLB and organisational development. The key contribution of this research lies in providing an understanding of WLB within the Chinese context, critically assessing the appropriateness of Anglo-American WLB literature to China. It also contributes to providing a critical insight into the demand for, as well as the development and effectiveness of, formal and informal approaches to worklife management within Chinese organisations. The insights also raise important issues for Chinese policymakers and HR practitioners over the management of WLB.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Keele Business School
Contributors: French, S (Thesis advisor)
Cao, J (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2019 15:22
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2019 15:22
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/7135

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