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Cultural revitalisation: The importance of acknowledging the values of an organization's “golden era” when promoting work‐life balance

Samantha J. Callan (Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 9 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to challenge the notion that culture change programmes will inevitably gain support from employees by exploring ways in which policy implementation is affected by and provokes shifts in organizational cultures.


Case studies investigated aspects of cultural change post‐implementation of family‐friendly policies. A grounded theory approach was adopted in the collection and analysis of the data, largely but not exclusively obtained through three sets of interviews, giving a limited longitudinal dimension to the study.


As both organizations had been sated with change, the idea that further adjustment was necessary to facilitate better work‐life balance for employees was potentially alienating to the very members most needing to be “brought on board”. Harnessing widely esteemed values and adopting the language of “cultural revitalisation” rather than cultural change appeared more effective in securing broader support of employees.

Research limitations/implications

Studies began after policy implementation so there was significant dependence on participant recall to access perceptions of any shifts and HR managers determined sample composition. Both necessitated the use of a wide range of supplementary evidence (as befits case study research) and the latter the development of an “informal track” of participants.

Practical implications

Cultural change programmes must appreciate the importance of enduring values, correctly identifying those which appear most resonant for employees, ensuring that these feature prominently when promoting a “work‐life balance” agenda.


It is unusual for case studies to look in detail at processes of change. This paper refines notions of organizational culture change and considers how best to include employees most likely to be resistant to a “work‐life balance” agenda.



Callan, S.J. (2008), "Cultural revitalisation: The importance of acknowledging the values of an organization's “golden era” when promoting work‐life balance", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 78-97.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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