Date of Award

December 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Barbara J. Daley

Committee Members

Larry G. Martin, Decoteau J. Irby, Romila Singh, Simone Conceição


Boundary Theory, Ict, Organizational Culture, Work-life Balance, Workplace Technology


This study is an ethnographic exploration of organizational culture, work-life balance, and the use of information and communication technology ("ICT") in the work and home settings. The researcher was embedded for nine weeks within the Information Technology ("IT") department at the corporate headquarters of a mid-sized manufacturing firm in the upper Midwest. The espoused values of the organization proved contradictory, one favoring work-life balance and the other requiring that employees be available to work anytime and from anywhere. The behaviors observed provided insight as to why employee actually used ICT after hours--because it was required of their role and/or because they were highly engaged employees. Consistent with the existing work-life balance literature, employees at the firm were largely responsible for setting boundaries between their work and personal lives and for controlling the ways in which the use if ICT impacted their own work-life balance. Employees used ICT in different ways depending on their role, their marital/family status, and depending upon whether or not they were senior management.

Further, this study provides insight into the degree to which organizational culture can be a factor in determining the extent to which people use ICT outside of work. Culture did play a role in influencing ICT use at the firm studied, but not a central role. Rather, employees actively and continually chose to use ICT after hours, irrespective of work demands, the wishes of management, or any influence of culture. Further insight is provided by this study as to the role of organizations and Human Resource Development ("HRD") practitioners in regards to the creation and support of organizational cultures that favor more rationale usage of ICT and that cultivate work-life balance. HRD theorists are called to recognize the central importance of ICT within theory related to both organizational culture and to work-life balance. Suggestions for future research involve replicating this study in different environments, considering different demographic factors, and focusing on employee productivity as it relates to work-life balance and the use of ICT.