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Investigation of Subjective Age in the Work Context: Study of a Sample of French Workers

Abstract : Purpose – Following the work of Kastenbaum in 1972, the concept of subjective age has been extensively explored and numerous studies have shown that subjective age often has a greater explanatory power than chronological age. However, to the best of the authors' knowledge, little work has focused specifically on subjective age at work. The purpose of this paper is to help fill this gap. The aim is to show that workers have a subjective age bias specific to the organisational context, and that this reveals their attitudes to work better than their overall subjective age bias. Design/methodology/approach – In total, 508 French salaried workers in three sectors (education, health, retail industry) answered: a French adaptation of Steitz and McClary's questionnaire to working life; the French version of the subjective age questionnaire; a scale of satisfaction with professional life; and a workplace attachment scale. Findings – The results confirm that there is a subjective age bias at work, linked to the type of organisation and constituting a better predictor of attitude to work than overall subjective age. This finding suggests that chronological age is less relevant than subjective age at work. Research limitations/implications – The existence of subjective age at work, more pertinent than chronological age, can call into question the a priori categorization of workers by age group, an issue already raised by many authors. Practical implications – The authors believe that the scale of subjective age at work can be used by human relations consultants or managers as a decision-making tool in the context of professional mobility or in setting up mentoring projects. Originality/value – The concept of subjective age is interesting from a theoretical level, to understand the subjective relationship of workers to their work-place, and from an applied level, as a decision-making tool in the context of professional mobility or in setting up mentoring projects. This research calls into question the a priori categorization of workers by age group, raising the possibility of a different approach to the management of older workers.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 4:55:44 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - 11:50:15 AM

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Liliane Rioux, René Mokounkolo. Investigation of Subjective Age in the Work Context: Study of a Sample of French Workers. Personnel Review, Emerald, 2013, 42 (4), pp.372-395. ⟨10.1108/PR-01-2011-0009⟩. ⟨hal-01473264⟩

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