Friday, 2 January 2015

Work–Life ‘Balance’, Recession and the Gendered Limits to Learning and Innovation (Or, Why It Pays Employers To Care)

an article by Al James (Queen Mary University of London) published in Gender, Work & Organization Volume 21 Issue 3 (May 2014)


The everyday challenges faced by workers ‘struggling to juggle’ competing commitments of paid work, home and family remain stubbornly persistent and highly gendered. Reinforcing these problems, many employers regard work-life balance (WLB) provision as too costly.

In response, this paper explores the learning and innovation advantages that can result from WLB provision in knowledge-intensive firms, as part of a WLB ‘mutual gains’ research agenda. These synergies are explored through a case study of IT workers and firms in two high-tech regional economies – Dublin, Ireland and Cambridge, UK – prior to (2006–8) and subsequent to (2010) the economic downturn.

The results suggest that by making available the kinds of WLB arrangements identified by workers as offering meaningful reductions in gendered work–life conflicts, employers can also enhance the learning and innovation processes within and between firms, which are widely recognized as fundamental for firms' long-term sustainable competitive advantage.

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