Reaching the heart or the mind? Test of two theory-based training programs to improve interactions between age-diverse coworkers

A. Burmeister*, F.H. Gerpott, A. Hirschi, S. Scheibe, K. Pak, T.A.M. Kooij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Due to demographic change, age diversity is increasing in many organizations. We aimed to understand how organizations can use age diversity training to overcome the challenges and realize the benefits of an age-diverse workforce. We built on the two predominant theoretical perspectives in the diversity literature–social identity theory and the information/decision-making perspective–to advance a dual pathway model and to develop two age diversity training programs: An identity-oriented training that helps organizations to overcome the challenges of age diversity by “speaking to the heart” of age-diverse coworkers and a knowledge-oriented training that helps organizations to realize the benefits of age diversity by “speaking to the mind” of age-diverse coworkers. We tested both training programs in a randomized controlled field experiment with age-diverse coworker dyads. We found that the identity-oriented training facilitated contact quality as a socioemotional outcome through increased levels of coworker’s perceived similarity and also reduced stereotype threat. The knowledge-oriented training increased knowledge transfer as a sociocognitive outcome through increased levels of coworker’s perceived knowledge utility and transactive memory. In a pilot training integration study, we made a first attempt to develop and test an integrated training program. Our findings advance research on the evidence-based management of age diversity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Learning & Education
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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