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Older workers' motivation to continue to work: five meanings of age: A conceptual review

Dorien Kooij (VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Annet de Lange (University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Paul Jansen (VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Josje Dikkers (VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 2 May 2008

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20022

Abstract

Purpose

Little is known about the motivation for older workers to work and to remain active in the labor market. Research on age and motivation is limited and, moreover, conceptually diverse. This paper aims to address age‐related factors that influence the work motivation of older workers. More specifically, it seeks to examine how various conceptualizations of the age factor affect the direction and termination of the motivation to continue to work of older workers.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature review of age‐related factors and motivation to continue to work is the approach taken in the paper.

Findings

Results from 24 empirical and nine conceptual studies indicate that most age‐related factors can have a negative impact on the motivation to continue to work of older people. These findings suggest that age‐related factors are important in understanding older workers' motivation to continue to work and that further research is needed to more fully understand the underlying processes that govern how these age‐related factors influence the motivation to continue to work.

Research limitations/implications

Based on the aforementioned findings, the paper was able to formulate a research agenda for future research, such as: a need for a meta‐analysis on age and motivation to determine the actual effect sizes, and additional theoretical attention to the underlying age‐related processes.

Practical implications

Age‐related factors identified in this study, such as declining health and career plateaus, should be addressed by HRM policies. HRM practices that could motivate older workers to continue to work include ergonomic adjustments and continuous career development.

Originality/value

Research on age and motivation is limited and conceptually diverse. This paper is one of the first studies to explore the relations between different conceptualizations of age and motivation.

Keywords

Citation

Kooij, D., de Lange, A., Jansen, P. and Dikkers, J. (2008), "Older workers' motivation to continue to work: five meanings of age: A conceptual review", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 364-394. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683940810869015

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited