Work-Life Balance: Basic Terms and Fundamental Theories

Subject: Employee Relationships
Pages: 19
Words: 5242
Reading time:
20 min
Study level: Master


Starting the research of any kind, the researcher has to develop, at first theoretically, the frame in which the work will be carried out and the sources from which preliminary, mainly secondary, data will be collected. This fact makes the literature review a vitally important part of every research as it allows the researcher to see what other scholars have done in the area of research and what implications for further studies their works contain. The literature review provides the researcher with the opportunity to focus on the topic, understand how other scholars viewed it and what the gaps are that those other scholars have not touched in their works. Thus, this very research on the topic of work-life balance will benefit in the form of novelty and exclusivity from conducting the literature review, as it will have a clear focus on the areas of work-life balance that other scholars have not managed to consider due to some reasons.

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Naturally, consideration of any research topic should be started by understanding the main terms with which this area of knowledge operates. Concerning the study of work-life balance in the theoretical dimension and in practical implementations exemplified by various organizations, the main terms interesting for this research include organization, work, employment, employee, work-life balance, etc. The latter two terms enjoy the highest degree of scholars’ attention as the two most important and operant notions of work-life balance studies.

Basic Work-Life Balance Terms Revealed in Previous Research

Employee Definitions

As far as the issue of work-life balance concerns mainly the people, i. e. the employees of an organization, it is natural that scholars work on defining the term employee rather considerably. Of substantial importance are the works by Maslow (1943) and Maylor and Blackmon (2005) in which the topic of researching the work-life balance of an organization is taken as the focus. The authors try to examine the main ideas of work-life balance and naturally start with defining such important work-life terms as an employee. As viewed by Maylor and Blackmon (2005) and Walster, Walster & Bershcheid (1978), an employee is actually any person officially enlisted among the staff of an organization, who receives either established or varied wages and is in the business relations (meaning that an employee fulfills certain initially negotiated services in exchange for payment from the side of an organization) with the employer, i. e. organization that employs him/her (Maylor and Blackmon, 2005, p. 27).

Other scholars, like for instance Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill (2006) and Stanfield and Routledge (1993), are more inclined to consider the legal side of the term employee. For these scholars, the very exact character of the definition is of primary importance as it allows avoiding legal or any other disputes within the organization. Drawing from this, Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill (2006) define an employee as any person bound to the organization or another person by the agreement, either written or oral, for the fulfillment of certain working functions in exchange for the agreed level of salary (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2006, p. 112). The point of view by Stanfield and Routledge (1993) differs in only one aspect, as these authors add the word officially to the above-presented definition of employee (Stanfield and Routledge, 1993, p. 211).

As a result, the scholarly source of the Lectric Law Library (also known as LLL, 2009) sums up the most widely spread and influential definitions of the employee into one, purely legal, definition in which all the ideas of the above-presented authors are taken into consideration. Thus, according to LLL (2009), the term employee is defined as follows:

EMPLOYEE – A person who is hired by another person or business for a wage or fixed payment in exchange for personal services and who does not provide the services as part of an independent business; Any individual employed by an employer (LLL, 2009).

However, the issue is that the works by Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill (2006) and Stanfield and Routledge (1993), Maslow (1943) and Maylor and Blackmon (2005), and Walster, Walster & Bershcheid (1978), and their definitions of employee are widely criticized by scholars for the alleged, and further proved, incompleteness and lack of detail.

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As a result of these criticisms, scholars suggest other and broader definitions of the term employee. Thus, Locke (2001) argues about the need to distinguish between the three major types of employment that he singles out. These types are labeled according to the way of employment as employee, worker, and self-employed (Locke, 2001, pp. 44 – 45). By this distinction, Locke (2001) adds greater variety to the research of work-life balance and stresses the importance to distinguish between the people whose work-life balance needs differ (p. 46). As Locke (2001) argues, and Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006) support his argument, there are people who can assure proper work-life balance conditions for themselves, as well as there are people who do not display any need of special work-life balance (Locke, 2001, p. 47; Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn, 2006, p. 232).

As a result of this debate between Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill (2006) and Stanfield and Routledge (1993), Maslow (1943), etc. and Locke (2001), Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006), etc., the need to formulate a more precise and detailed definition of the term employee arose. To avoid the misunderstandings that were often observed in using the terms employee, worker, and self-employed, scholars like Locke (2001), Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006), etc. have agreed to define an employee as any person “working under a contract of employment. A contract need not be in writing – it exists when you and your employer agree on terms and conditions of employment. It can also be implied from your actions and those of the person you are working for” (Directgov, 2009).

Thus, the term employee becomes more specific and detailed due to the effort taken by Locke (2001), Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006), etc. in defining the major object of developing the work life balance in an organization (Locke, 2001, p. 48). Trying to avoid any speculations on the term, the scholars manage to state clearly and simply at the same time that to be called an employee a person needs to have either a written or an oral contract of employment or to operate in the context from which it is obvious that this person is employed by certain organization or another person (Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn, 2006, p. 232). Drawing from this, the definition of the work life balance should obviously be focused on an employee, or rather on the human being, and its rights for the proper and acceptable conditions of work and control over balancing the latter with rest.

Work Life Balance Definitions

It is obvious that the study of the work life balance would be impossible without clear understanding of what this term means and where it can be applied. Based on this, scholars have paid considerable attention to their attempts to understand the term work life balance, and what they have come to is the generally single and rather comprehensive definition of the term. This definition is more uniform than the on of an employee as the majority of scholars agree on the following definition formulated by the academic workers of Broadband Cornwall and presented at the official web page of this scholarly resource at Actnow (2009):

Work life balance (WLB) – Work life balance is about people having a measure of control over when, where and how they work. It is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society (Actnow, 2009).

Although this uniform definition is present and operant in the modern work life balance studies, there are minor differences and criticisms that scholars like Maslow (1943), Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006), Walster, Walster & Bershcheid (1978), etc. expressed in the mutual debate aimed finding out the most adequate meaning of the work life balance.

Thus, for example Bedeian, Burke, and Moffett (1998) view work life balance as the ability of the employees of an organization to legally have and use the right for the proper rest after the established period of working for an organization (pp. 475 – 476). Moreover, Bedeian, Burke, and Moffett (1998) criticize the definition presented as the summary of the ideas by Maslow (1943), Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006), Walster, Walster & Bershcheid (1978), etc. at the web page of Broadband Cornwall. As Bedeian, Burke, and Moffett (1998) argue, the definition under consideration operates with the number of abstract, general, and potentially ambiguous terms including people, mutual benefit, a measure of control, work, etc (p. 477). These terms, according to Bedeian, Burke, and Moffett (1998), can be interpreted in a number of the rather various ways and one cannot help wondering what specific group of people (probably employees, or any people involved in the working process of the organization) are labeled as people in this definition, how mutual benefit is interpreted, and what the term work means in this particular context (pp. 478 – 479).

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More widely discussed aspect of the above presented definition of the work life balance is a measure of control provided to the employees of an organization. If it is a measure of control it should first of all be specific, as Travers (2001, p. 110) argues, and secondly it should be measurable so that one could assess the actual extent to which employees are really entitled to defend their rights for work life balance negotiated with the employer company and promised as one of the conditions of employment (Mitchell, 1999 as cited in Feldman & Paulsen, 1999, p. 384).

As a result of these critical remarks of numerous scholars, the work life balance definition can, according to Brewerton and Millward (2001) and Usunier (1998), be modified to avoid the above stipulated ambiguities and provide a more specific and clear insight into the nature of work life balance and, at the same time, its importance for the employees and the organization that employs them as well (Brewerton and Millward, 2001, p. 131; Usunier, 1998, p. 199). Accordingly, Brewerton and Millward (2001), Gilbert (2001), and Usunier (1998) develop another work life balance definition that might serve for the purposes of disambiguation of the controversial terms.

Summing up the ideas by the four above mentioned scholars, the work life balance can thus be viewed as “the officially admitted and legally confirmed opportunity for the employees of an organization to exercise their rights for the proper balance of work and rest during their tenure in this organization” (Gilbert, 2001, p. 139). In this respect, the measurable character of the control that employees have over the organization’s duty to keep to the established work life balance is essential. As Bedeian, Burke, and Moffett (1998) argue, the employees are entitled to demand the fulfillment of their work life balance rights exactly to the extent to which this right is stipulated by the charter of the organization and the respective, mutually agreed, article of the latter where the employers and the employees formulate the mutually beneficial work life balance (Bedeian, Burke, and Moffett, 1998, p. 189).

According to such a definition of work life balance, the legal right of the employees to demand the fulfillment of the proper work life balance conditions is ensured. As Bryman and Bell (2007) argue, in the questions of human resource management (HRM) in which the work life balance relations are involved, it is important to ensure uniformity of meanings of all lexical units implied so that in case of any legal or procedural dispute no manipulation of terms would be possible (p. 195). As one can observe, the definition of the work life balance presented as the sum of the ideas by Brewerton and Millward (2001), Gilbert (2001), and Usunier (1998) conforms to this requirement and makes it perfectly clear, what the work life balance is and how it affects the relations between the employers and the employees.

As a result of the review of the scholarly works in respect of the basic work life balance terms defined in them, it is obvious that the works by Maylor and Blackmon (2005), Walster, Walster & Bershcheid (1978), Brewerton and Millward (2001), Gilbert (2001), and Usunier (1998), Maslow (1943), Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006), etc. present the strong facts proving the critical importance of the term employee and work life balance for the study of the development of work life balance in organizations. Moreover, the terms discussed by the scholars are interconnected in the relation of them both to the topic of work life balance. Thus, an employee can be viewed as the object of the work life balance development, while work life as such is the more comprehensive term that refers to what is done to the employee, or in other words, how an employee is respected in an organizational culture. Naturally, the mutual relation of employee and work life balance is the scholarly proven fact that serves as the basis for the major work life balance theories formulated in the process of the development of scientific knowledge in this area.

Fundamental Work Life Balance Theories

General Notions

As stated above, work life balance studies are focused mainly on the notions of employee and work life balance as such. This fact proves once again that employees and employers are the main agents of the work life balance development. Drawing from this, scholars like Maslow (1943), Michael (1975), Walster, Walster & Bershcheid (1978), Stanfield and Routledge (1993), Montana and Charnov (2008), etc. considered it reasonable to examine the major work life balance theories and trace their applications in specific contexts of business organizations. The above listed scholars have contributed greatly to the development of work life balance studies by the numbers of experimental research works they completed so that their theoretical considerations could be checked and their implementation monitored in various enterprises. Further on, one of the major contributions made by Maslow (1943), Michael (1975), Walster, Walster & Bershcheid (1978), Stanfield and Routledge (1993), Montana and Charnov (2008), and others to the work life balance studies is the development of basic theories of this sphere of human life. As well, these scholars dealt with the identification and definition of the basic terms used in this study, and with the reasoning of the choice of either a qualitative or a quantitative research methodology for a business or social research (Walster, Walster & Bershcheid, 1978, p. 195).

For example, among the most widely discussed issues in the works by Maslow (1943), Michael (1975), and Walster, Walster & Bershcheid (1978) are the basic work life balance theories and the main terms that every scholar must use while conducting a work life balance study. The scholars like Bedeian, Burke, and Moffett (1998), Cockman, Evans and Reynolds (1999), etc. also contribute to the development of the knowledge of work life balance development by both term defining and research methodology consideration. Thus, Cockman, Evans and Reynolds (1999) pay much attention in their work to the basic principles in which work life balance can be defined and how this phenomenon actually affects the lives and working conditions of ordinary people.

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At the same time, Bedeian, Burke, and Moffett (1998) and Cockman, Evans and Reynolds (1999) take their time to consider the methodologies that are the best fitting ones for the conduct of the work life balance research works. These authors consider the eternal opposition of the qualitative research to the quantitative method, and together with Adamantios and Schlegelmilch (2000), Bogdan and Taylor (2005), etc. come to the conclusion that it is the combination of both methods that can assure the fullest and the most objective results for the work life balance study (Adamantios and Schlegelmilch, 2000, p. 163).

However, the theories of work life balance are of critical importance for the understanding of the very phenomenon and for the understanding of basic connection that work life balance has with the notions of the work efficiency, job satisfaction, and employee productivity levels (Montana and Charnov, 2008, p. 193). The following five theories constitute the focus of the bulk of scholarly works in the area of work life balance:

  1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943)
  2. John Adams’ Equity Theory (1962)
  3. Expectancy Theory by Vroom (1964)
  4. Needs’ Theory y McCelland (1987)
  5. Goal Setting Theory by Locke (1968)

These are the theories that the majority of scholars consider as fundamental ones for the study of work life; due to this fact, these theories are considered with special attention in this literature review. Based on this, the main focus of the above listed theories is the relation of the working load employees have at the places of their employment to the time they spend outside the work (Booth, Colomb, and Williams, 2003, pp. 113 – 114; Montana and Charnov, 2008, p. 183; Walster, Walster & Bershcheid, 1978, p. 85; Brewerton and Millward, 2001, p. 116). Accordingly, the above theories mainly focus on this relation and consider needs of people and the ability of their employers to meet those needs in the context of work life balance development (Brewerton and Millward, 2001, p. 118; Adamantios and Schlegelmilch, 2000, p. 163).

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943)

The first notable theory related to the work life balance is the hierarchy of needs developed by the famous scholar Abraham Maslow. The basic principles of this theory are laid out in the work by Maslow (1943). Defining five major levels of human needs, Maslow (1943) stresses the importance of understanding these levels for every human resources manager in an organization, as when the manager understands what needs dominate his/her employees at the moment, he/she will be better strapped to help the employees satisfy their needs through the work (p. 394). The five levels of needs of the human beings, according to Maslow (1943), include (from the lowest to the highest ones) the physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs (p. 371). The major point about these needs is that people act for the purpose of satisfying them level by level from the physiological to self-actualization needs.

According to Maslow (1943), people should work on satisfying their needs exactly in conformity to this hierarchy because if they miss a level, their psychology brings the state of frustration to them and this affects all the further life and work development of a person (p. 375). In respect of work life relations, Maslow (1943), and further Cockman, Evans and Reynolds (1999), argues that employers should be aware of their employees’ needs in order to satisfy them and increase their work productivity in this way. Cockman, Evans and Reynolds (1999) also note an interesting detail about Maslow’s theory which is the fact that different employees can be on different levels of needs and this involves more attention and professionalism from the side of the manager (pp. 183 – 184).

However, certain limitations and drawbacks are observed in Maslow’s theory by its author as well as by other scholars including Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006), Montana and Charnov (2008), etc. The first question that Montana and Charnov (2008) have to this theory is about the reasons for the hierarchical placement of human needs and about the factors that made Maslow (1943) list the needs namely in this order (p. 114). Montana and Charnov (2008) do not see any reasons for such a hierarchy, and criticize Maslow (1943) for the incomplete and groundless hierarchy (p. 119). The same is the concern by Michael (2005), who finds no scientific support for Maslow’s theory and exemplifies his counter-argument with the so-called “starving artist” metaphor to refer to the people who ignore low level needs in order to achieve the highest ones (p. 212). Thus, the above limitations and drawbacks of the theory by Maslow (1943) made scholars look for another variant to explain the relations between human beings on the whole and between employees and employers in particular.

John Adams’ Equity Theory (1962)

Chronologically, the next theory attempting to explain work life relations between employees and employers, as well as all other relations between human beings, is the equity theory formulated by the famous scholar John Adams in 1962 (Walster, Walster & Bershcheid, 1978). As Smith (1998) argues, the essence of the equity theory is the assumed wish of the employees for the fair treatment and proper relation of the working inputs they present to the organization they are employed by and outputs they expect to receive from it as a form of feedback for their services and commitment to work (p. 167). Thus, the theory by Adams is one of the so called justice theories, whose main focus is fair allocation of benefit among all the people involved in its achievement. Drawing from this, Walster, Walster & Bershcheid (1978) argue that the imbalanced benefit that employees might obtain causes frustration and stress and prevents the organization from creating the positive work life balance within its organizational structure (p. 371).

One more management implication of the equity theory is noticed by Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson (2008) who claim that in the work place the employees not only consider the fairness of their position in an organization but also reflect on the fair balance between the input that other employees make to the work and the output they actually receive (p. 94). Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson (2008) refer to this concept as to the “social comparison”, by means of which employees determine whether they are treated fairly at work or not (p. 95). Accordingly, the situation when a person observes inequality of benefit allocation between him/her and other employees, given that the input they make is similar, causes frustration and loss of working commitment, which is a necessary condition of the work life balance development (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson, 2008, pp. 99 – 100).

This situation is also called the “cognitive distortion”, as Silverman (2007, p. 176) refers to it, because if an employee determines unfairness in the ways the organization assesses his/her input, he/she tries to consciously reduce the input, both qualitatively and quantitatively, or decides to change the job at all, looking for better feedback for his/her commitment (Silverman, 2007, p. 177). The main points for the criticism of the theory are connected with this aspect, as scholars like Pallant (2007) and Bryman and Bell (2007) note that the equity theory was tested in laboratory settings only and its practical implementation is not grounded or checked. As well, these scholars claim that personal differences typical of human beings do not allow speaking in such general terms about the pursuit of equity by all people (Pallant, 2007, p. 26; Bryman and Bell, 2007, pp. 187 – 188).

Expectancy Theory by Vroom (1964)

Montana and Charnov (2008) describe another theory of human motivation based on the expectations and allegedly inherent pursuit of benefit and equity that every human being displays. This theory was formulated by Victor Vroom in 1964 and was called the expectancy theory as far as its essence is in the belief that people improve their activities if they clearly see the benefits that those improvements might give them (Montana and Charnov, 2008, p. 110). In the business perspective, Vroom’s theory argues that employees tend to enhance their working effectiveness if they see the clear motivation in the form of organizational rewards, salary increases, career development perspectives, etc (Montana and Charnov, 2008, p. 110; Bramham, 1999, p. 133). In this respect, Vroom (1964) stresses the importance of personal peculiarities of every human being and argues that expectancies displayed by different people might also differ, even if the working conditions and potential rewards in an organization are similar (Stanfield and Routledge, 1993, pp. 14 – 15).

Montana and Charnov (2008) see the three main concepts as the basis of the expectancy theory by Vroom (1964). These concepts include valence, instrumentality, and expectancy (p. 118). The former notion, i. e. valence, refers to the need of the employee’s focus on a certain outcome of his/her work to be firm and strong. Montana and Charnov (2008) simply describe this notion as the situation when the desire of an employee to receive the expected outcome of his/her work overcomes the probability of not receiving it (p. 118). The concept of instrumentality is also considered by Montana and Charnov (2008) as well as by Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson (2008), who argue that instrumentality is the ability of the employee to achieve the desired outcomes of the work or, in other words, the means and practical steps that an employee takes, or should take, in order to receive the desired outcome instead of simply waiting for it (Montana and Charnov, 2008, p. 119; Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson, 2008, p. 99).

Finally, the expectancy is described by Montana and Charnov (2008) and Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson (2008) as the very belief of an employee that the valence he/she displays and the instrumentality he/she implements will definitely lead to the expected working outcome (Montana and Charnov, 2008, p. 119; Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson, 2008, p. 99). Based on these considerations, Vroom (1964) and the scholars like Montana and Charnov (2008), Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson (2008), Pallant (2007), and Bryman and Bell (2007) come to the definition of the employee motivation as the rationally conditioned choice between a set of voluntary activities which is carried out by the employee and depends only on his/her considerations of the potential benefit of this or that alternative (p. Montana and Charnov, 2008, p. 120; Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson, 2008, p. 101).

Needs’ Theory by McCelland (1987)

The search of the theory that could avoid all the limitations of the hierarchy of needs formulated by Maslow (1943) resulted in the formulation of the need theory by by McCelland (1987) (Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn, 2006). Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson (2008) also call this theory the acquired-needs theory (p. 178), while Duxbury and Higgins (2001) refer to it as either the three needs theory or the learnt needs theory (pp. 12 – 13). The point here is that, according to Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006), the need theory by by McCelland is focused on the acquired needs that people learn in the process of acquiring new life experience over their lifetime (p. 232). The three major groups of needs that people acquire, as McCelland (1987) argues, include achievement, affiliation, and power (McCelland (1987) as cited by Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn, 2006, p. 233). Drawing from this, Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006) argue that the needs’ theory explains rather precisely the motivations that people have for certain attitudes towards their work and towards the relations with their employers.

According to the theory by McCelland, feeling the need of achievement a person looks for a work and then tries to be successful in it (Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn, 2006, p. 233). Affiliation is the need that people try to satisfy in the work place as well, and it is the task of the human resources management of an organization to provide its employees with the favorable conditions for professional and personal development in the work place, encourage growth of the employees for the mutual benefit of theirs and the whole organization (Duxbury and Higgins, 2001, p. 13). Finally, the need of power, as McCelland (1987) argues, is the moving force of the career development and professional progress of an employee (Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn, 2006, p. 233).

Another important point about this theory is the so called Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) described in detail by McCelland (as cited by Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn, 2006, p. 235) and further assessed by Locke (2001) and Adamantios and Schlegelmilch (2000). The essence of the TAT test is in presenting the set of abstract pictures to a participant and the following analysis of the associations and/or stories he/she might develop after seeing those pictures. Kopelman, Prottas, Thompson, and Jahn (2006) argue that the TAT test is rather reliable, but its major limitation is the fact that every psychologist might interpret the results retrieved rather subjectively, thus not allowing the test results to be generalized to make respective, more widely applicable conclusions (p. 149).

In any case, scholars like Adamantios and Schlegelmilch (2000) and Duxbury and Higgins (2001) assess the test as a productive management tool that allows identifying the three groups of employees as defined by McCelland (1987). These groups are high achievers, employees with the high need for affiliation, and those displaying high need of power. Respectively, Adamantios,and Schlegelmilch (2000), Blumburg (2008), and Duxbury and Higgins (2001) conclude that people displaying their belonging to either of the groups should be assigned with the respective tasks for the mutual benefit of the organization and employees and for the properly developed work life balance in the organization.

Goal Setting Theory by Edwin Locke (1968)

Having considered various work life balance theories, it is possible now to address the one that is a comprehensive account of all the needs-based and goal-based theories discussed above. This is the goal setting theory developed by Edwin Locke in the middle of the 20th century. According to Locke (1968; 2001), the performance of any employee is determined by the goals this employee sets in his/her professional development (p. 121). Based on this, Locke (1968; 2001) argues that the higher and the more difficult the goals are, the better progress the employee can display in achieving those goals and overall in his/her work. On the contrary, if an employee sets simple and easily-achievable goals, his/her performance will inevitably decline as there will be no stimulus for its improvement (Locke, 2001, p. 46). Drawing from this, Locke (2001) emphasizes the fact that higher and more difficult goals enhance the work life balance development in an organization, while lower goals provide the background for both work life balance decline and the decrease of worker productivity and job satisfaction (p. 47).

Another important aspect of the goal setting theory is considered by Locke (2001) and Michael (2005), who argue that the relationship between the employees’ goals and their performance is expressed in three major ways including focusing the employee on the goal exclusively, enhancing his/her working capacity, and developing persistence that could be of great use not only in achieving a particular goal but in the further professional development on the whole (Locke, 2001, p. 49; Michael, 2005, p. 221). In this respect, Locke (2001) attributes much importance to the feedback as the only effective means for the employee to check the goal achievement process in progress (p. 51).

Locke himself (2001) as well as Michael (2005) and Montana and Charnov (2008) also argue about the goal setting theory limitations among which the dominant one is the fact that the goals of single employees may vary and rather often come into the conflict with the goals of the organization they are employed by (Locke, 2001, p. 49; Michael, 2005, p. 222; Montana and Charnov, 2008, p. 123). But irrespective of its limitations, this theory, as well as any other of the work life balance theories whose scholarly discussion is presented above can be applied to the study of the basic work life balance development policies in the British retailers like Tesco, Asda, Alsi, etc. aimed at learning their work life balance developmental trends, issues, and the relation of work life and business productivity.


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