Age, resistance to change, and job performance

  • Kunze F
  • Boehm S
  • Bruch H
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Abstract

Purpose – In light of the increasingly aging workforce, it is interesting from both a theoretical and practical perspective to investigate empirically the commonly held stereotype that older workers are more resistant to change (RTC). Thus, the main purpose of this paper is to investigate the age/RTC relationship, considering tenure and occupational status (blue/white collar employees) as additional boundary conditions. Furthermore, the paper investigates the relationship between RTC and individual performance, thereby introducing RTC as a mediator in the age/job performance relationship. Design/methodology/approach – Study hypotheses are tested among a sample of 2,981 employees from diverse companies. Structural equation modeling with bootstrapping procedures is applied to investigate the moderated-indirect model. Findings – Contrary to common stereotypes, employee age is negatively related to RTC. Tenure and occupational status are further identified as boundary conditions for this relationship. Moreover, RTC also shows an association with individual job performance, which allows for the establishment of an indirect-mediation mechanism from age to job performance via the intermediation of RTC. These results can be explained using current life span concepts, particularly the selective optimization with compensation (SOC) model. Research limitations/implications – Hypotheses were tested in a cross-sectional data set, which does not allow for conclusions of causality. Originality/value – This study contributes to the age stereotyping literature that has thus far neglected the age/RTC relationship. Furthermore, the age/job performance literature is extended by introducing RTC as an important mediating factor. In sum, this study should help provide a more positive and more differentiated picture of older employees in the workplace. Keywords

Author-supplied keywords

  • Age discrimination
  • Individual behavior
  • Older workers
  • Organizational behavior
  • Stereotypes

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Authors

  • Florian Kunze

  • Stephan Boehm

  • Heike Bruch

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