Leisure at work in Britain, West Germany, France and Japan : a cross-cultural comparative study
The aim of this thesis was to investigate the impact of changing values and attitudes toward work and the workplace in Britain, West Germany, France and Japan. A cross-national approach was adopted in order to gain a better understanding of differences and similarities in behaviour and to identify aspects specific to each society. Although the relationship between work and leisure has been thoroughly examined and there is a growing body of literature on changes in the values associated with these two phenomena, little research has been carried out into leisure at work. Studies of work time have tended to consider it as a homogeneous block, whereas recent research suggests that more attention should be devoted to unravelling the multiple uses of time at the workplace. The present study sought to review and analyse this new approach to the study of work time, and special attention is devoted to an examination of definitions of leisure, recreation, free time and work within the context of the workplace. The cross-cultural comparative approach gave rise to several problems due to the number of countries involved and the unusual combination of factors being investigated. The main difficulties were differences in the amount and quality of literature available, the non-comparability of existing data, definitions of concepts and socio-linguistic terms, and problems over access to organizations for fieldwork. Much of the literature generalizes about patterns of behaviour and few authors isolate factors specific to particular societies. In this thesis new empirical work is therefore used to ascertain the extent to which generalizations can be made from the literature and characteristics peculiar to each of the four countries identified. White-collar employees in large, broadly comparable companies were studied using identical questionnaires in the appropriate language. Respondents selected were men and women, aged between 20-65 years and either managers or non-managers. Patterns of leisure at work were found to be broadly similar in the national contexts, but with the Japanese and the West Germans experiencing the least leisure at work, and the British and the French perceiving the most. The general trend seems to be toward convergence of attitudes regarding leisure at work in the four countries. Explanations for variations in practice were sought within the wider societal contexts of each country.