Border crossing: work-life balance issues with Chinese entrepreneurs in New Zealand

Chan, Camellia
Harris, Candice
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

Work-life balance is a dominant discourse in contemporary Western society. It has been built on a language of large organizations, hence has not been widely considered in relation to the small-medium enterprise sector. As a consequence, scant research has been conducted on the experiences of immigrant entrepreneurs and work-life balance within the small-medium enterprise sector in New Zealand, a country largely populated with migrants and small businesses which account for 96 per cent of the total enterprises. This study aims to fill this gap by firstly exploring the interpretations of the concept of work-life balance by Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs and, secondly, the main challenges they face in achieving work-life balance. This is done by drawing on literatures including those on work-life balance, small-medium enterprises, and immigrant entrepreneurship theories. Primary research was conducted using a critical interpretive approach where the researcher is an insider to the study. This philosophical and methodological approach makes it possible to give a minority group a voice to effect social change and gain further research attention. Fifteen Chinese business owners, chosen from a variety of industries within the Auckland region, participated in this study. A qualitative methodological technique and semi-structured interviews were used to collect the data for the case study on these entrepreneurs. The results indicate that the majority do not enjoy a sense of work-life balance because they take on filial obligations important for their own culture. They need to work hard to generate financial profit for the benefit of family. About half of them work more than 60 hours per week and three works longer than 70 hours weekly. The motivation for them to work in this way is to provide their family with desirable housing and to enable their children to meet higher education goals. This study challenges the applicability of the work-life balance discourse among the immigrant entrepreneurs who perceive the concept differently based on their cultural values. The results emphasise the need for business case studies from Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs and research attention on contemporary human resource topics to be given to minority groups.

Immigrant entrepreneurship theories , SME , Organizational citizenship behavior , Small and Medium Enterprises , Organisational citizenship behaviour , Familial obligations
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