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The workaholism phenomenon: a cross‐national perspective

Raphael Snir (School of Management and Economics, School of Behavioral Sciences, The Academic College of Tel Aviv‐Yaffo, Tel Aviv, Israel)
Itzhak Harpaz (The Center for the Study of Organizations and Human Resource Management, Graduate School of Business, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 August 2006




The purpose of this paper is to examine the workaholism phenomenon.


Workaholism was defined as the individual's steady and considerable allocation of time to work, which is not derived from external necessities. Subsequently, it was measured as time invested in paid work, controlling for the financial needs for such an investment. Workaholism is examined from a cross‐national perspective through representative samples of the labor force in Belgium, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, and the USA


The Japanese worked more hours per week than all other nationalities. The following findings have remained stable across nations: respondents with a high level of work centrality worked more hours per week than did those with a low level of work centrality. Men worked more hours per week than women. Married women worked fewer hours per week than unmarried women, while married men worked more hours per week than unmarried men. Private‐sector employees worked more hours per week than public‐sector employees.

Research limitations/implications

The cross‐national comparisons are based on aggregated self‐reported data obtained from individuals. However, the present study makes three major contributions: applying a non‐biased definition of workaholism, indicating that the existing conceptualizations of workaholism as an attitude have underestimated the importance of sex‐roles in shaping work patterns and behaviors, and findings of similarities as well as of differences across nations on the phenomenon of workaholism.

Practical implications

Developing awareness of cultural variations concerning workaholism.


This is perhaps the only empirical study so far making a cross‐national comparison of workaholism, which also has high external validity.



Snir, R. and Harpaz, I. (2006), "The workaholism phenomenon: a cross‐national perspective", Career Development International, Vol. 11 No. 5, pp. 374-393.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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