Managing Age in Organisational Contexts

Project Summary

This Australian Research Council funded project focuses on the management of age in organisations. This is becoming an increasingly important issue as the population and workforce ages. Recent government policy initiatives call for people to extend their working lives beyond traditional retirement age, yet older workers continue to face barriers to effective labour force participation. How organisations deal with age-related issues in the workplace is not yet well understood.

This study aims to develop a framework of effective strategies for employers to use in managing age by investigating how the meaning of age is constructed in relation to managers, taking into account differences in gender and in organisational context.

Research and policy typically take a chronological view of age with ageing viewed in terms of decline and negativity. This study challenges these assumptions of age as decline, and seeks to explore better ways of managing age within organisations.

The research explores the management of age in two organizations; Siemens (Australia) and IAG.

In 2012, more than thirty interviews were undertaken within two divisions of Siemens.¿¿ In 2013 a raft of documentary evidence in relation to Siemens was also collected.¿¿ This data has now been coded and analysed and a paper drawing on these findings was presented at the 11th International Conference on Organizational Discourse at Cardiff University in the UK in July 2014.¿¿ The paper co-authored by Leanne Cutcher and Cynthia Hardy is entitled ''Entering the Tardis: Age Across Time and Space in a Global Engineering Firm".

Research with IAG began in May 2013 with a series of focus groups held in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney CBD and Parramatta. The sales and service call centre located in Parramatta also played host to non-participant observation as well as 20 semi-structured interviews with call centre operators and team managers. Observations and interviews took place from October 2013 until June 2014. The data collected from the interviews and observations informed the "Management of Age in Organisations" report submitted to IAG's diversity unit in August 2014.

Researchers

The Chief Investigators on this project are Dr Leanne Cutcher (Sydney) and Professor Cynthia Hardy and Dr Susan Ainsworth (University of Melbourne). Professor Robyn Thomas (Cardiff Business School) is a Principal Investigator on the project.