Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization

Management and Organizational Behaviour


Lazaridis School of Business and Economics

First Advisor

Yujie Zhan

Advisor Role

Associate Professor


Work-family life is becoming increasingly complex for the modern-day working parent, making boundaries that define the physical, temporal, and psychological aspects of work and family domains evermore important in how people choose to structure and manage the interface. However, the literature on boundary management has predominantly studied the enactment of certain boundaries and treated these boundary constructs as stable (e.g., general preferences and tendencies to behaviourally integrate or segment work and family). This research has also largely been conducted in contexts where the environment naturally created a way to organize the interface without the employees having to do as much deliberate structuring between these work and family roles (e.g., employees go between home and working on-site in a central workplace). As such, in my dissertation research I sought to understand how remote working parents engage in a self-directed practice of constructing and changing their boundaries. To do so, I first take an inductive approach to explore the experiences of remote working parents who had to undertake the full-time care of their children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a grounded theory approach to analyze two samples of qualitative data (i.e., Reddit posts; online survey with open ended questions), I uncover the cognitive nature of boundary work that encompasses the mental efforts applied to the anticipation of boundary needs, boundary planning, regulation of boundary implementation, and the subsequent adaption of boundaries. Further, I unpack the factors that are intertwined in cultivating a “boundary context” in which individual’s boundary work is fundamentally rooted in. I find that one’s boundary work is contingent on key family and organizational members as well as broader social roles that prescribe expectations around domain membership and thus their work-family boundaries. Subsequently, I develop the cognitive boundary work construct further by quantitatively testing the core elements of the proposed cognitive boundary work process as well as exploring a new set of hypothesized relationships. I use a multi-study approach to create and validate a self-report instrument to measure cognitive boundary work by beginning to test the items and establish the psychometric properties and validity of the subscales in a sample of remote working parents (Study 2 and 3). Then with a cross-sectional (Study 3) and a repeated measures design (Study 4), I began testing the proposed correlates of cognitive boundary work and building the nomological net of this construct. Of note, the final study allowed me to examine the dynamic nature of cognitive boundary work that I observed in the qualitative data, in which I found episodic fluctuations of cognitive boundary work were positively related to the hypothesized outcomes in a given week. Altogether, my dissertation builds and tests new theory on a process of boundary work that elaborates on how this unfolds through multiple cognitive stages while also accounting for the boundary context. This will consequently serve to provide important theoretical and practical implications regarding work-family boundary management.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Available for download on Thursday, August 22, 2024