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Work-family balance through border theory lens: the case of a company “driving in the fast lane”

Eleonora Karassvidou (Department of Economics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Niki Glaveli (Department of Economics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to seek to provide support and extend work-family Border Theory (BT) in order to investigate organizational and individual factors that determine the complex nature of work-family balance (WFB).


Qualitative research was conducted in a company in Greece. In total, 20 in-depth interviews were conducted. Data analysis was guided by interpretative phenomenological analysis.


The key findings illustrate that strong borders protect the investigated, powerful, work domain and expand only to accommodate its’ needs. In congruence with BT, employees choose to be central participants in the powerful, highly impermeable and inflexibly bordered, work domain. The deeply entrenched organizational culture, as well as leaders’ behavior and leadership style, support the development of an array of positive work attitudes which boost central participation in the work domain. Due to the strongly bordered work setting, employees were found to choose segmentation as a WFB cope strategy; however, shifts in the participants’ life phase, as well as unfulfilled expectations, lead them to reset priorities and reevaluate their central participation in the dominant work domain.

Practical implications

The present study has implications for HR practitioners. Communication and open discussions on work-family themes reveal issues that can positively contribute to WFB. Further to this, organizations need to consider individual differences when they deal with WFB issues and frame interventions to facilitate this process.


This paper adds to current thinking in BT by illustrating that organizational culture, leadership and work attitudes have a strong impact on the nature of the work domain and its borders, as well as on employees’ central participation in the work setting and the attained WFB.



The authors would like to thank Dr Rhona Rapoport, Professor Lotte Bailyn and Professor Suzan Lewis, for their valuable guidance throughout the research project, as well as the two anonymous referees and the editor of the EDI for their insightful comments and suggestions.


Karassvidou, E. and Glaveli, N. (2015), "Work-family balance through border theory lens: the case of a company “driving in the fast lane”", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 84-97.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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