Age work in organizations: maintaining and disrupting institutionalized understandings of higher age

Collien, Isabel, Sieben, Barbara and Muller-Camen, Michael (2016) Age work in organizations: maintaining and disrupting institutionalized understandings of higher age. British Journal of Management, 27 (4) . pp. 778-795. ISSN 1045-3172 [Article] (doi:10.1111/1467-8551.12198)

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Age diversity research calls for new approaches in explaining the persistence of age inequalities, which integrate different levels of analysis and display greater context sensitivity. Concurrently, neoinstitutionalist research interested in social inequalities calls for merging institutional theory with critical perspectives and to account for issues of power. In this study, we address the calls of both research streams through developing the concept of ‘age work’: the institutional work actors undertake on age as a social institution. Applying our novel concept to a multi-actor study of four German organizations known for their age management, we come across a counterintuitive insight regarding actors’ age work: maintaining stereotypical age images can serve to counter age inequalities, whereas deconstructing age images can reinforce age inequalities. The multi-actor perspective of our study allows us to categorize different forms of power-laden and interest-driven age work and to portray the reproduction of age inequalities as a result of actors’ age work, embedded in different contexts and complex power relations. Comparing employees’ forms of age work across sectors and organizations, we detail how notions of masculinity as well as income and job security shaped the categorized forms of age work.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): age diversity, institutional work, inequality, interests, power
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations
Item ID: 21147
Notes on copyright: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Collien, I., Sieben, B. and Müller-Camen, M. (2016), Age Work in Organizations: Maintaining and Disrupting Institutionalized Understandings of Higher Age. Brit J Manage, 27: 778–795. doi:10.1111/1467-8551.12198, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
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Depositing User: Michael Muller-Camen
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2017 10:37
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2021 15:15

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