International Journal of Social Science and Human Behavior Study
Author(s) : ANNA OLSZEWSKA
Having a balanced life seems to be of a particular complexity and rather hard to achieve for all business people, in particular it has been considered difficult to reach for expatriates. This study describes how female and male expatriates approach work- life balance (WLB) issues and why, as well as where they see the key success factors on their international assignments. The data were obtained from 20 in depth interviews conducted on Singapore- and Dubai- based expats, age 23-54 across 13 nations. The research reveals that the approach to WLB changes with age, position and can be even industry as well as gender specific. Hence, female interviewees in an overwhelming majority disapprove of the WLB concept, while male expats value this equilibrium highly, although they appear to have a different perception of it. That attitude itself has a significant impact on work- life conflicts and job satisfaction levels. Furthermore, the findings indicate that female expats value cultural intuition and making friends locally at the same level as professionalism, whereas the male counterparts identified fast adaptability, tolerance for ambiguity and openness to change as the most important to their success. Next, expatriates working for banks or consulting firms have fully different attitudes and expectations when it comes to WLB, compared to the colleagues performing governmental or hospitality jobs. Lastly, from my interviews it can be concluded that the more experienced the expatriate is the more value in WLB they see, sometimes because of regrets and burnout, but also because of the high social status reached and feeling of accomplishment. This paper aims to expand the knowledge of expatriates and their attitudes in the globalized market place.