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At the heart of family businesses: how copreneurs craft work-life balance

Romana Dreyer (Industrial and Organizational Psychology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Christine Busch (Industrial and Organizational Psychology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Article publication date: 30 March 2021

Issue publication date: 1 December 2022




The purpose of this paper is to understand how experienced copreneurs of small family business (SFB), as the smallest unit and heart of their family business (FB), may create work-life balance (WLB). Copreneurs evince highly intertwined life-domains and often struggle to respite while managing their high business demands.


In this couple interview study with 18 experienced copreneurial couples of SFBs (N = 36), we investigated strategies copreneurs use to create their WLB by merging a resource perspective (Hobfoll, 1989) with the concept of WLB crafting (Sturges, 2012).


A key strategy in copreneurial couples was the structural establishment of microdomains, such as periods of personal resource recreation within a macrodomain (e.g. work) via individual physical and cognitive WLB crafting. Copreneurs used relational WLB crafting with a strong emphasis on seeking support and mainly to protect their microdomains by relying on their spouses as boundary keepers. Women more often expressed the importance of health and time for respite, as cognitive WLB crafting, and they were more active in creating (joint) recovery opportunities. Dyadic WLB crafting strategies were used when goal congruency for work or private activities was high.


This research applies WLB crafting research to the smallest unit of SFBs, namely copreneurs. The study provides in-depth insights into the strategies copreneurs of SFB use to create a satisfying WLB.



The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Funding reference number 02L14A030).


Dreyer, R. and Busch, C. (2022), "At the heart of family businesses: how copreneurs craft work-life balance", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 816-832.



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