Challenges And Strategies Of Mid-career Chinese Female Managers In The Struggle To Achieve Work-life Balance  

Abstract Category: Accounts and Economics
Course / Degree: Double Degree in Economics and Management
Institution / University: Shanghai Tongji University, China
Published in: 2015

Thesis Abstract / Summary:

The issue of work-life balance has received little attention by researchers, managers and politicians in China, where work-life conflicts have tended to be accepted as a fact of life. Though, due to changes in the economic and social environment, the topic is becoming increasingly important and requires further investigations.

The present research contributes to the scarce literature on work-life integration in China and explores the major conflicts and coping strategies of mid-career Chinese female managers who are expected to experience particularly high level of roles conflict. In fact, women still tend to undertake the majority of care and housework responsibilities in comparison with their male counterparts, at this stage of life (mid-point) they struggle to both create a family and advance in their career, and managerial roles require long working hours and high commitment. Focusing on a specific target would help companies to find the best formal and informal arrangements to support their employees, with beneficial effects to both individuals and organizations.

The study adopts the qualitative approach of grounded theory, which aims to generate a theory that is grounded from the data. In-depth, open-ended, semi-structured interviews were conducted among eleven mid-career Chinese female managers, working in six multinational organizations whose offices were mainly collocated in Shanghai. The examination was cross-functional and multi-organizational.

The most striking conflicts of these women appeared to be high workload and child’s education, while housework and eldercare did not represent a big issue. The most appreciated formal policies were flexible working hours and teleworking for emergencies because they allowed control over time and permitted to successfully manage unexpected emergencies. Boss’ support was considered fundamental to face conflicts and the lack of supportive management was cause of high turnover. Unfortunately, previous research outlined that sympathetic management is not commonplace in terms of actual practice in Chinese organizations, as well as the provision of flexible policies. Therefore, more initiatives need to be taken to address this problem.

From a theoretical perspective, the study provides one of the few researches on work-life balance in China; it focuses for the first time on the specific unit of analysis of mid-career Chinese female managers, and compares conflicts and strategies of mothers and women without children. The research draws also attention on the extreme importance of caring and supportive management. Leaders should focus on the issues of business travels, technology overload, and on measuring work-life balance policies outcomes through appropriate metrics. The study remarks also the new changes in the evolving Chinese context and proposes a theoretical framework to further explore the work-life interface of these women.

From the managerial perspective, the research highlights several practical arrangements that both Chinese companies and multinational companies operating in China could adopt as a key to gain competitive advantage to attract and retain talented female staff. In particular, the promotion of flexible working hours and teleworking for emergency would be highly effective and costless for organizations, in combination with a supportive management that would help these women in their struggle to reach a balance and self-fulfilment across the three domains of work, family and self.

Thesis Keywords/Search Tags:
Work-life balance, China, Women, Managers, Mid-career, Strategies

This Thesis Abstract may be cited as follows:
Croce, M. (2015). Challenges and Strategies of Mid-Career Chinese Female Managers in the Struggle to Achieve Work-Life Balance. Shanghai Tongji University, China.

Submission Details: Thesis Abstract submitted by Melania Croce from Italy on 10-Jun-2015 17:59.
Abstract has been viewed 1378 times (since 7 Mar 2010).

Melania Croce Contact Details: Email: melania.croce@outlook.it

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