Aging in Society: Selected Reviews of Recent Research

By Matilda White Riley; Beth B. Hess et al. | Go to book overview

4
Aging and Work Organizations1,2

Harris T. Schrank Joan M. Waring The Equitable life Assurance Society

Several kinds of aging take place within a work organization. Members age in the usual sense as they grow older. Members age in an organizational sense as the length of their affiliation with the institution increases. Members age in the particular jobs they hold as their tenure in them is extended. The membership of the organization grows older (or perhaps younger) as a result of internal demographic processes affecting age composition. All the while, the organization itself grows older as it moves away from newness toward or even beyond maturity.

These various aging processes and the points at which they intersect could form a research agenda to occupy a generation of scholars. Unfortunately, too few such studies are now available to make their review and synthesis a major purpose of this paper. But the lack of empirical studies has far more serious implications. Over the past few years, legislation related to aging and organizations has been proposed -- and resisted -- without the benefit of pertinent data. For example, the effort to extend the age of mandatory retirement was championed and opposed with, at best, anecdotal data on the effect the policy would have on businesses and other organizations ( Rosenblum, 1977). A body of laws, cases, and administrative regulations continues to grow -- gravely uninformed by empirical research (Yale Law Journal, 1979). Recent judicial dicta and observations about how age affects decisions within organizations or how age relates to career prog

____________________
1
In addition to W. Richard Scott, we thank Anne Foner and John W. Riley, Jr., for their their cogent criticisms of an earlier draft of this paper.
2
This paper grew out of analyses within the Equitable Life Assurance Society initiated by these authors in association with John W. Riley, Jr., Matilda White Riley, Seymour Spilerman, and Burton Singer.

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