The workaholism phenomenon: A cross-national perspective

Raphael Snir, Itzhak Harpaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the workaholism phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach - Workaholism was defined as the individual's steady and considerable allocation of time to work, which is not derived from external necessities. Subsequently, it was measured as time invested in paid work, controlling for the financial needs for such an investment. Workaholism is examined from a cross-national perspective through representative samples of the labor force in Belgium, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, and the USA Findings - The Japanese worked more hours per week than all other nationalities. The following findings have remained stable across nations: respondents with a high level of work centrality worked more hours per week than did those with a low level of work centrality. Men worked more hours per week than women. Married women worked fewer hours per week than unmarried women, while married men worked more hours per week than unmarried men. Private-sector employees worked more hours per week than public-sector employees. Research limitations/implications - The cross-national comparisons are based on aggregated self-reported data obtained from individuals. However, the present study makes three major contributions: applying a non-biased definition of workaholism, indicating that the existing conceptualizations of workaholism as an attitude have underestimated the importance of sex-roles in shaping work patterns and behaviors, and findings of similarities as well as of differences across nations on the phenomenon of workaholism. Practical implications - Developing awareness of cultural variations concerning workaholism. Originality/value - This is perhaps the only empirical study so far making a cross-national comparison of workaholism, which also has high external validity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-393
Number of pages20
JournalCareer Development International
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2006


  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Gender
  • Hours of work
  • Workaholism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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