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Jiafang Lu

This study presents a practically oriented, qualitative approach to Chinese working parents’ work–family experiences, the early childrearing stage in particular. Based on face-to-face interviews with 70 dual-earner couples in Beijing, Wuhan, and Shenzhen, this study attempts to investigate how they coped through the early childrearing period. The conversation revealed that the households had diverse experiences and adopted a variety of adaptive strategies to cope with this early childrearing phase. Women and men reacted very differently. Men tended to report no particular difficulty during this period, whereas this period was especially acute for women. Almost all the households relied on elder family members and some also on paid domestic helpers for childcare assistance. Very few community and institutional resources exist that working parents, especially women, can rely on during the early childrearing period. Regional differences from the northern to the southern cities were also found. Theoretical and especially practical implications were discussed.

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Chiu-Lan Chang

Taiwan and Japan have traditionally followed Confucian ideology, which may pose contrasting expectations of women, and this still persists. Women’s participation in the two countries has been increasing, due to higher educational qualifications and their entry into the labor market, thus contributing to the growth of the economy in past decades. Even during their childrearing years, more women tend to continue to work and they do not expect to break their career. But based on Confucian ideology, gendered workplace cultures define ideal workers as diligent, hard working and loyal, which may conflict with the norms of the ‘ideal mother’ as totally devoted to family. Thus, working mothers who wish to balance work and family have been perceived of as struggling for a career in a male-dominated world of work and sacrificing her role of family carer at the same time. Additionally, work–life balance policy (WLBP) is traditionally seen as a women’s issue, making it easier for married women to ask for their legal right to take leave for childcare with or without premiums. Likewise, work–life balance (WLB) seems to be synonymous with gender issues in Taiwan and Japan, but there is a difference between the development of work–life theory policies and practices. The purpose of this study is to compare and contrast Taiwan’s and Japan’s perspectives on work–life balance policies and practices. The study is based on (1) a literature review; (2) WLB policies and practices in both Taiwan and Japan; (3) secondary data on childcare leave in the two countries.

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Carolyn Timms, Paula Brough, Oi-Ling Siu, Michael O’Driscoll and Thomas Kalliath

In this chapter we describe some of our recent work–life balance research conducted between regional groups within the Asia-Pacific area. The research component of this chapter explores the applicability, testing and extension of theories of organizational behaviour from Western to non-Western contexts. More specifically, we explore the relevance of the work–life balance construct to workers and societies who may have different competing priorities. In this chapter we first discuss the numerous definitions and measures of the work–life balance construct. We present data from some of our recent research testing a new measure of work–life balance amongst 11 421 workers sampled from China, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia. We then discuss the rise of industry and rapid social change in China, which may influence interpretations of work behaviour. Finally, we return to a more general examination of key issues in regard to modern technology and its potential for encroachment on work–life boundaries. In particular we examine the emerging cross-cultural research in this area.

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Huimin Liu and Fanny M. Cheung

Crossover refers to the interpersonal process that occurs when job stress or strain experienced by one person affects the level of strain of another person in the same social environment. The scope of crossover could be broadened to incorporate the transmission of positive experiences as well. Crossover can present a dyadic perspective on work–family research, as it allows for an investigation of how experiences are transferred on the inter-individual level. The present chapter will, from a research base, discuss crossover effects in the work–family literature in contemporary Chinese societies. We will begin with a review of Western-based theories and research on work–family crossover effects, followed by a discussion of existing empirical studies conducted with Chinese samples. Furthermore, potential limitations of current crossover studies are identified, and a research agenda is lined out. We highlight that due to the unique Chinese work and family contexts, Chinese dual-earner couples may experience crossover in a way not fully captured by a Western perspective. Future investigation is encouraged to extend the Western-based model of crossover by incorporating culture-specific factors particularly relevant to the Chinese society. A direct comparison of crossover processes between nationally or culturally representative samples is also a fruitful avenue in future research, as it has the potential to challenge work–family assumptions that are historically country and culture bound.

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Ting Wu and Jin Feng Uen

Not until recently have there been three generational cohorts in the workplace in the Greater China region. The diversified compositions of working populations have attracted attention regarding intergenerational diversity and influences on work values and related issues. Thus, this study investigates the compositions of today’s workplace by looking into the different generations and their work values that may influence both individuals and organizations, especially with regard to work–life issues. Realizing the importance of managing talent, we first illustrate the definitions of main variables including work values and work–life balance. Next, the compositions of generational groups both in general and specifically in the Greater China area are described, followed by an examination of the factors and examples from previous research. The antecedents affecting work–life balance values in different generations are discussed, such as economic development, technology, demographic/family structure changes, and social relations. The outcomes of the intergenerational mixed effects are taken into consideration to investigate the needs and desires and the expectations of multiple groups to shed the light on management practices. By delineating the rationales of intergenerational differences, contemporary management practices and implications for work–life interface and experiencing differences are described for both researchers and practitioners for further understanding of the intergenerational issues concerning work–life balance issues.

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Eunae Cho and Chee-Wee Koh

The issue of work–life balance has become a hot topic in many Asian societies. In this chapter we discuss governmental interventions and social re-engineering efforts to facilitate work–life balance in East Asia. We begin by setting out the context for governmental work–life interventions. Next, we survey major elements of work–life interventions in Singapore and South Korea, with the intention of exploring the impetus for and hindrance to governmental work–life interventions. After summarizing lessons learned from the past policy implementations, we conclude with some recommendations.

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Akihito Shimazu

In recent years, rapidly changing working conditions have stimulated employees to invest more time and effort in work. These changes call for a better understanding of how heavy work investment (i.e., a strong focus on the task at hand and a high level of dedication to work) impacts employees and organizations. The aim of this chapter is to discuss heavy work investment and its outcomes in terms of work–family balance among Japanese dual-earner couples. In the first part of the chapter, I introduce two different types of heavy work investment (workaholism and work engagement) and describe correlates of them with well-being and job performance. In the second part, I introduce working conditions and family structures in Japan. In the third part, I refer to the spillover–crossover model as a conceptual framework and then move to a general overview of empirical studies conducted in Japan. Finally, I discuss future directions of work–life balance research in terms of the spillover–crossover model.

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Luo Lu

The aim of this chapter is to provide evidence for a cultural theory of work and family interference (WFI) using findings from recent studies conducted in Taiwan. I propose that ‘culture’ plays a critical part in constructing people’s conceptions of work and family, guiding their lived experiences in both domains, and shaping the underlying mechanisms of the work and family interface. I will review empirical evidence derived from qualitative and quantitative, cross-sectional and longitudinal, monocultural and cross-cultural studies to support the above cultural theory of work and family. Such evidence illustrates both similarities and differences in the WFI experiences between Taiwan Chinese and their Western counterparts. I argue that we need to sharpen the cultural thrust to understand the dynamism of work and family across diverse cultural contexts, the Chinese Confucian tradition in particular, culturally and economically. I argue too that we need to tie empirical research to organizational stress management interventions to cope with WFI.

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Cary L. Cooper

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Jong-Min Woo

Korea has made great economic growth during the last 40 years. However, the aftermath of long working hours and work–life imbalance has adversely affected the birth rate and impaired productivity and job satisfaction among employees. The increasing number of long-distance married couples due to the corporate environment worsens employees’ stress from spending much time commuting and having difficulties in maintaining work–life balance (WLB). Spending more time at the workplace and work-related social gatherings, spending less time in family settings, and still-existing gender inequalities inevitably lead to the problems in WLB and life satisfaction, as indicated in some research articles and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Better Life Index. To improve WLB, the Korean government and workplaces have been trying to implement family-friendly policies and related corporate programmes during the last decade. As a result, much advancement has been achieved. The policies have been revised and updated almost every year to help employees to spend more time in raising children and in leisure/family activities. However, some companies are not willing to follow the policies and thus, the utilization rate of family-friendly programmes among corporates is still low. The work-oriented social culture is still very strong. Employees’ distress related with WLB issues and the details of WLB policies will be discussed in detail.