Bridging the work-family divide

Second edition of Breaking the Mold is a manifesto for change

MIT Sloan Professor Lotte Bailyn

The long-standing separation between work and family life is an outdated concept, says MIT Sloan Professor Lotte Bailyn in the new edition of her book Breaking the Mold. She argues that society's segregation of work and family no longer makes sense for employees or for the organizations that employ them.

According to Bailyn, unless American business radically rethinks some of its basic assumptions about work, time, and career paths, both employee and employer will experience setbacks in today's intensely competitive business environment.

Blueprint for post-industrial society

Radical when the book was first published in 1993, Bailyn's ideas are thoroughly updated in this edition to reflect the latest developments in the organization of work, the demography of the workforce, and attitudes toward the integration of work and personal life.

Says Stanford Professor Stephen R. Barley, codirector of the Center for Work, Technology and Organization: “Listen carefully! Herein lies a blueprint for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a post-industrial society. As well-reasoned, carefully documented, and understated as it is, this small book is nothing less than a manifesto for change from one of the world's leading scholars of work and family issues.”

In Breaking the Mold, Bailyn uses real-life cases to illustrate the problems that employees encounter in coordinating work and private life and explains how corporations generally handle these problems. Most important, she suggests models for innovation.

Throughout the much-awaited second edition, she shows how the structure and culture of corporate life could be changed to integrate all of an employee's obligations and interests. And she illustrates the benefits that such change can have for the organization itself.

Profound lessons

“If we are truly to meet the challenges of the 21st century and break the mold so that we can be more successful at work and at home, we will have to heed [these] profound lessons,” says Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute.

Drawing on international comparisons as well as years of working with a wide range of organizations, Bailyn emphasizes the need to redesign work itself. She also urges employees and employers to rethink the connections between organizational processes and personal concerns.

Her bottom line: implementation of these revolutionary new approaches will encourage all players in the workplace — and the organizations they represent — to reach their full, productive potential.

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