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A comparative study on work-life balance among university academics between China and Sweden: A literature review
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Karlstad Business School.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


As more and more organizations and employees try to seek ways to relieve the tensions between work and out-of-work life demands, there has been a growing body of research which examines work–life and work-family issues. However, most of work-life balance research so far has been conducted under the context of western industrialized countries. Though some recent studies have addressed this problem by investigating work-life balance in countries which are culturally or politically different from western, industrialized ones, only a handful of studies have applied cross-cultural analysis methods by sampling data from countries with obviously different cultures.

Cross-industry studies agreed to the notion that university employees experience a significantly higher level of work-life conflict than employees in other industries. Meanwhile, the higher education worldwide is experiencing major transformation, which has a significant impact on the work and life among academics and professional staff. Therefore, in-depth and comprehensive WLB research with university academics as targeted subjects might be of great significance, especially from a cross-cultural comparative framework, which is a potential area to be expanded and developed.


This paper servers as a literature overview of the author’s upcoming comparative study on the present situation of work-life balance among university academics between China and Sweden. The paper will review the definitions of some key concepts, the development of the relevant studies and some major theories adopted in the WLB research area. It is hoped that the findings based on the analysis of the literature review and the discussion about its implications can shed great light on the upcoming study.


A qualitative method will be used in this study. Since it is basically a literature review, the whole process of research starts from recognition, retrieval and recollection of the relevant literature (keyword searching is the major way adopted throughout the whole process of data collection, with the help of some databases), and then based on the comprehension of the selected literature, analyzes and applies the literature to the research questions, finally ends with evaluation and discussions on their implications to the upcoming research.

Results and findings

A review of literature in this paper helps the author obtain a general picture of the previous studies in the WLB research area. The analysis and discussion about their implications provides the author with some perspectives to approaching the upcoming research listed in the following aspects.

1) About the research purpose

Literature review in the area of cross-national/cultural studies reveals the significance and feasibility of conducting a comparative study between two distinct cultures. And it is clear that the width and depth of comparative study, particularly between culturally diverse areas or countries, need to be explored. This finding confirms the necessity of the author’s future research which aims to conduct a comparative study on the present situation of work-life balance among university academics between China and Sweden.

2) About the research design

The examination and exploration of the themes, categories and research methods in the previous studies is of vital significance for the choice of major category and research design of the upcoming research. The upcoming research will be a comparative empirical study from a cross-cultural comparative perspective. It will basically be a qualitative study, with the help of some quantitative method to collect and analyze the data to be collected from two examples universities in China and Sweden respectively. Methods of data collection include surveys, case studies, focus groups and interviews. Besides, a three-level framework will be established, which will consist of government policies and cultural context (macro level), organizational management (messo level) and individual differences (micro level).

3) About the research questions

Based on the analysis and discussion of the literature review, some research questions can be raised in order to achieve the research purpose. The first question might deal with the workable definition of the key concept “work-life balance” and the theoretical framework of the research; the second question may target at revealing the present situation and individual differences of work-life balance among the subjects under the two contexts and the reasons underlying these differences; the third question may deal with the coping strategies to improve university academics’ work-life balance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 31 p.
Keyword [en]
Literature review, work-life balance, university academics, China, Sweden
National Category
Work Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-38312OAI: diva2:867154
Subject / course
Working Life Science - Master's thesis (one year) (15 ECTS credits)
Educational program
One Year Master in Working Life Science
Available from: 2015-11-10 Created: 2015-11-04 Last updated: 2015-11-10Bibliographically approved

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