Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Work–Life Balance in Asia

Handbook of Research on Work–Life Balance in Asia

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Luo Lu and Cary Cooper

In Asian societies, work and family issues are only recently beginning to gain attention. The pressure of rapid social change and increasing global competition is compounded by the long hours work culture, especially in the Pan-Confucian societies such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. Furthermore, with the rising female labor participation, more and more Asian employees are now caught between the demands of work and family life.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Cary L. Cooper

Subjects: asian studies, asian business, business and management, asia business, human resource management, organisational behaviour


In 1851, the social reformer John Ruskin wrote, ‘in order the people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: they must be fit for it, they must not do too much of it, and they must have a sense of success in it’. Indeed, from the Industrial Revolution until the middle of the twentieth century, most people in the developed world worked extraordinarily long hours, and in many cases in unpleasant and dangerous working environments, and certainly did not achieve the balance that Ruskin felt essential for a good quality of life. Post-World War II, the movement toward a more regularized working week took hold in many developed countries, given the strength of the unions and more powerful health and safety legislation. Working practices and hours of work became more stabilized, although there were still some noticeable differences between sectors, levels within organizations and between different socioeconomic groups. The 1950s and 1960s were still dominated by the male breadwinner, with many women in unpaid housework or in jobs but not careers! The 1970s was about industrial relations strife, but the 1980s was the forerunner and decade that laid the foundations for the great ‘work–life balance’ debate in the developed world, particularly in the West. In the 1990s, the globalization of the workplace led to a massive change in work culture as we entered Industrial Revolution mark II.