Age grading: The implicit organizational timetable

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Abstract

The age distribution within an organization forms an implicit career timetable, and there is evidence that people use their perceptions of this timetable to determine whether their careers are on or off schedule. Questionnaire data were collected from managers (N = 488, 47 per cent) within a large electric utility. The results indicate that managers who see themselves as ‘behind time’ in their careers have more negative attitudes towards work than other managers, even when their perceptions of being ‘behind time’ are inaccurate. However, although these managers continue to have the most negative attitudes, differences between the on and off schedule managers are smaller when their position on the actual career timetable is controlled. Thus, work attitudes are influenced by both individual and demographic factors. Finally, the longer managers remain in the same job, the more likely they are to define themselves as ‘behind time’. This supports other research suggesting that lateral moves within organizations may be an important device for managing the normal -limitations of upward movement in managerial careers.

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