Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Work-Life Practitioners: A Force for Change in the Academic Setting
by Nuter, Julie L., Ph.D., Benedictine University, 2011, 187; 3489054
Abstract (Summary)

Increasingly, institutions of higher education are using work/life balance programs to attract, retain, and motivate talented employees. Research on the effectiveness of these programs identifies a number of best practices currently being employed, including: (1) workplace flexibility, (2) paid and unpaid time off, (3) health and well-being, (4) caring for dependents, (5) financial support, (6) community involvement, (7) voluntary benefits, and (8) organizational culture change. Virtually unstudied, however, are the people who create these programs and the approaches they use to implement them. This lack of research on work/life practitioners and their approaches to implementation is problematic because it leaves scholars and practitioners with insufficient understanding of how to put work/life programs into practice effectively. Based on a comparative case study analysis of 13 universities of varying sizes, this dissertation identifies four patterns of effective work/life implementation: (1) a strategic orientation in which executives sanction action, (2) a human resources orientation in which a new HR leader sanctions action, (3) a position of strength orientation in which the work/life practitioner influences action, and (4) a grant implementation orientation in which the principal investigators sanction action. These patterns are described and a conceptual model is built that shows how, within each of these four orientations, successful work/life practitioners engage with others in an intentional process of scanning their environment, noticing important cues, forming useful interpretations, choosing courses of action, and learning from the process of implementation.

This study advances work/life research in three ways. First, it provides a unique look at work/life practitioners as change agents by exploring their role in the adoption process of work/life programs. Second, it extends the research on work/life implementation into the university setting. Third, it identifies four distinct approaches to work/life implementation and provides a conceptual model to explain how and why these approaches lead to success. The dissertation concludes with implications for future research and practice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ludema, James D.
Commitee:
School: Benedictine University
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Management, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Change, Grant implementation, Human resources, Implementation, Position of strength, Work-life balance, Work-life practitioner
Publication Number: 3489054
ISBN: 9781267064240
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