Social Indicators Research

, Volume 138, Issue 2, pp 771–791 | Cite as

What Do People Do to Achieve Work–Life Balance? A Formative Conceptualization to Help Develop a Metric for Large-Scale Quality-of-Life Surveys

  • Dong-Jin LeeEmail author
  • M. Joseph Sirgy


The goal in this paper is to build a theoretical foundation for a new formative measure of work–life balance. The current indicators of work–life balance used in large-scale social surveys are outcome-based measures. We critique the use of outcome-based measures of work–life balance and argue that a more suitable measure should reflect personal strategies people use to foster work–life balance. As such, we propose a formative conceptualization of work–life balance composed of a set of inter-life domain strategies theorized to increase overall life satisfaction. Specifically, work–life balance is conceptualized as a higher-order construct composed of four behavior-based life domain strategies and four cognition-based life domain strategies. The behavior-based strategies are (1) role engagement in multiple domains, (2) role enrichment, (3) domain compensation, and (4) role conflict management. The cognition-based strategies are: (1) positive spillover, (2) segmentation, (3) value compensation, and (4) whole-life perspective. The effects of these behavior- and cognition-based strategies on overall life satisfaction are explained through a set of theoretical principles. Research and policy implications are also discussed.


Work life balance Work family conflict Formative conceptualization of work–life balance Inter-domain strategies of life satisfaction Overall life satisfaction 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessYonsei UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Pamplin College of BusinessVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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