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Antecedents and consequences of work-life balance: an exploration of the Malaysian workforce

posted on 22.03.2017, 01:22 authored by Au, Wee Chan
Work-life balance is an issue of increasing importance to organizations in their attempt to build sustainable competitive advantage through effective management and leverage of human capital. As Malaysia progresses along its path of economic transformation, the issue of work-life balance is becoming highly critical in its aim of becoming a developed economy. This study aims to explore the antecedents and consequences of work-life balance among the Malaysian workforce. Two opposing theories, Role Conflict Theory and Role Accumulation Theory, are utilized to frame the conceptual model of work-life balance. Using Malaysian working adults as sample, this research adopted a two-stage data collection procedure. First, phenomenological investigation was conducted to uncover the lived experience of work-life balance among participants. Secondly, with data collected from questionnaire survey, structural equation modeling technique was executed to verify the conceptual model of work-life balance. From the phenomenological investigation, work-life balance emerged as a “sense” of the individual. Work-life balance is found to be an individual-based experience which is related to a sense of constraint, a sense of value of various life roles, and a sense of encroachment between the boundary of work and nonwork. A strong sense of “unbalance” is signified with a sense of not being in control, not being able to participate, as well as a sense of stress and guilt. Phenomenological findings with respect to conceptualization, antecedents and outcomes of work-life balance offered important insights to verify and validate the conceptual model of work-life balance which was to be tested in a subsequent stage. At the second stage of the study, results of the structural equation modeling affirm that both conflict and enrichment aspects of work-life balance occur simultaneously, and hence offer support for the Role Accumulation Theory, instead of Role Scarcity Theory. The results show that work-to-nonwork effects and nonwork-to-work effects both contribute to the experience of work-life balance. Findings pertaining to antecedents show that (i) while work overload and work conflict increase work-to-nonwork conflict, but peer support lowers work-to-nonwork conflict. (ii) Work ambiguity reduces work-to-nonwork enrichment; whereas work role flexibility and support from supervisor and peer leads to higher work-to-nonwork enrichment. (iii) Overload, conflict, ambiguity and demand in nonwork roles lead to higher nonwork-to-work conflict, whilst nonwork flexibility and family support reduce nonwork-to-work conflict. (iv) Nonwork role ambiguity and family support lead to lower and higher nonwork-to-work enrichment respectively. Regarding outcomes of work-life balance, the study finds that (i) work-to-nonwork conflict links positively with job stress and life satisfaction; (ii) work-to-nonwork enrichment links positively with job satisfaction and career satisfaction, but negatively with job stress; (iii) nonwork-to-work conflict relates positively to individual’s turnover intention and organizational commitment, but negatively with job performance; (iv) nonwork-to-work enrichment links positively with organizational commitment, job performance, and turnover intention.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Ding Ding Tee

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Business and Management (Monash University Malaysia)


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Business and Economics