Work-Life Balance and Commitment Systems

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The blurring boundaries between work and private life, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and working from home, has been challenging on organizations aiming to keep their employees motivated and committed. Commitment research has been mainly focused on the work context in the past, thereby ignoring other contexts. In addition, Work-Life Balance (WLB) literature has been lacking human complexity and has been criticized for its weak theoretical foundation. By integrating WLB literature with commitment literature, this study aimed to overcome some severe conceptual unclarities and lacking theoretical definitions in both fields. Adapting a pragmatist constructivist view and abductive inquiry, this research aimed to understand how dynamic commitment systems are experienced by integrating work-life balance and imbalance. This exploratory research aims to understand how commitment systems are shaped when individuals are able and unable to balance their work and life priorities, through in-depth interviews with a participatory visual (drawing) method. The results demonstrate that Commitment System Theory (CST) provides novel insight into WLB phenomena, particularly with regards to the dynamics and specific targets. Essentially, the WLB literature provides value to CST, mainly with regards to commitments in the ‘life’ domains and offers insight into how and why systems are dynamic, moving beyond the simple structures in CST. WLB integration has revealed that we can no longer research ‘work’ without considering ‘life’, and CST pushed WLB beyond simple ‘balance’ and ‘imbalance’ static states of mind. Knowledge on how balanced and imbalanced commitment systems are shaped within the minds of individuals, together with reinforcing effects, provides clearer management insights.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen