Document Type


Publication details

Post print of: McDonald, P, Brown, KA & Bradley, LM 2005, 'Explanations for the provision‐utilisation gap in work‐life policy', Women in Management Review, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 37-55.

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Peer Reviewed




– Organisational work‐life policies and programs allow employees to have greater control over how, when and where they work but these policies are often under‐utilised, particularly by men and career‐oriented employees. In what is largely an atheoretical area of literature, the paper aims to theoretically integrate the empirical literature related to the uptake of organisational work‐life policies.


– The paper links three related areas of literature: the associations between work‐life policies and individual/organisational outcomes; explanations for the low uptake of work‐life policies in many organisations; and preliminary studies which have explored organisational culture and its relationship to work‐life policies. These literatures are integrated to develop a five‐dimensional construct, “organisational work‐life culture”, for testing in future research.


– It is suggested that the following five dimensions underlie this aspect of organisational life: lack of managerial support for work‐life balance; perceptions of negative career consequences; organisational time expectations; the gendered nature of policy utilisation; and perceptions of unfairness by employees with limited non‐work responsibilities.

Practical implications

– The development and validation of the organisational work‐life culture construct requires further research and may result in specific organisational strategies and policies which address the barriers to work‐life policy utilisation.


– Based on existing empirical evidence, the paper suggests an original theoretical proposition: that organisational work‐life culture is underpinned by five dimensions and explains much of the provision‐utilisation gap in work‐life policy.

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