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In search of perfect boundaries? Entrepreneurs’ work-life balance

Toyin Ajibade Adisa (Department of Business and Law, University of East London, London, UK)
Gbolahan Gbadamosi (Leadership, Strategy and Organisation Department, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK)
Tonbara Mordi (Department of Business and Law, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK)
Chima Mordi (College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, Brunel Univeristy, London, UK)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 23 August 2019

Issue publication date: 23 August 2019




Does the self-employed nature of entrepreneurs’ business ventures mean that they have perfect boundaries between their work and nonwork lives? Drawing on border theory, the purpose of this paper is to examine entrepreneurs’ work–life balance (WLB) in terms of how they construct and manage the borders between their work and nonwork lives.


The authors adopt a qualitative research approach to enhance their insight into entrepreneurs’ WLB using border theory. The study benefits from its empirical focus on Nigerian migrants in London who represent a distinct minority group living in urban areas in the developed world. Data for the study was collected over a three-month period, utilising semi-structured interviews as the primary method of data collection.


The study’s findings indicate that entrepreneurs prioritise “work” over “life” and reveal that entrepreneurs have little desire for boundaries as they work everywhere, which makes long working hours prevalent among them. Furthermore, the findings bring to the fore the prevalent social anomaly of entrepreneurs preferring to be unmarried, single and even divorced as a result of or associated with the entrepreneurs’ boundaries creation and management.

Research limitations/implications

The extent to which the findings of this research can be generalised is constrained by the limited and selected sample of the research.

Practical implications

Research on human resource management (HRM) in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or businesses in which entrepreneurs operate is still under developed. The issue of the size and the nature of an organisation (i.e. labour or product market influences, ownership structures, etc.) have profound implications for human resources (HR) structures, policies and practices and the quality of the WLB of entrepreneurs. Research on HRM and entrepreneurship is still evolving. Consequently, HRM in several entrepreneurial business ventures is sometimes (if not often) organisationally fluid and ad hoc. The main implication for this work environment is that there may be little structure in HRM policies and processes to help self-employed entrepreneurs in their ability to comprehensively manage border crossing and to achieve WLB.


This paper provides valuable insights into entrepreneurs’ work/nonwork boundaries, which is hugely influenced by the commodification of time and money. It also enriches work–life border theory and its social constructionist perspective.



Adisa, T.A., Gbadamosi, G., Mordi, T. and Mordi, C. (2019), "In search of perfect boundaries? Entrepreneurs’ work-life balance", Personnel Review, Vol. 48 No. 6, pp. 1634-1651.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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