A Closer Look at Key Concepts of the Work-Nonwork Interface

Authored by: Evangelia Demerouti , Inés Martínez Corts , Marina Boz

Current Issues in Work and Organizational Psychology

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138604940
eBook ISBN: 9780429468339
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, we adopt a critical view on whether or not there is a solid and consistent theoretical understanding of what “work-nonwork interface” is. We challenge the theoretical meaning and practical value of different work-nonwork interface concepts by referring to the question whether or not current traditional measures of conflict/enrichment are the most suitable to capture such constructs or whether more innovative ways of measurement are also possible. For this purpose, we initially provide an overview of the existing key concepts to further propose several venues for advancing research on the work-nonwork interface. First, we propose the use of more accurate and neutral measures and less survey items that imply causal attributions in relation to triggers of conflict and enrichment experiences. Furthermore, it is suggested that the within-person (i.e. diary studies) approach to work-nonwork interface can help uncovering the true nature of the experience, especially from an episodic perspective. Likewise, the use of more qualitative studies is also proposed to advance phenomenological understanding of the individuals’ work-nonwork experiences. Moreover, it is suggested that focusing solely on the interface between work and family does not capture the main roles that individuals are playing in the nonwork domain. Therefore, we suggest that the expansion of work-family literature to include also the relationship between work or family with the self is relevant. Moreover, we suggest that the detailed measurement/conceptualization of the family situation (at least as specific as the work situation) is also of paramount importance to further advance research into the work-nonwork interface. Finally, we propose that it is necessary to further improve the specification of the role of culture in the configuration of the experience of positive or negative work-nonwork interface relationships. With the suggestions that we offer, we aim to advance the conceptualization and measure of key concepts relevant for this domain.

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