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What about time? Examining chronological and subjective age and their relation to work motivation

Jos Akkermans (Department of Management and Organization, VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Annet H. de Lange (Department of Human Resource Management, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Nijmegen, The Netherlands) (Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands) (The Norwegian School of Hotel Management, University of Stavanger, Norway)
Beatrice I.J.M. van der Heijden (Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands) (Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands and University of Kingston, London, UK)
Dorien T.A.M. Kooij (Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)
Paul G.W. Jansen (Department of Management and Organization, VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Josje S.E. Dikkers (Department of Human Resource Management, Hogeschool Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 8 August 2016




The aging workforce is becoming an increasingly important topic in today’s labor market. However, most scientific research and organizational policies focus on chronological age as the main determinant of successful aging. Based on life span developmental theories – primarily socioemotional selectivity theory and motivational theory of life span development – the purpose of this paper is to test the added value of using subjective age – in terms of remaining opportunities and remaining time – over and above chronological age in their associations with motivation at work and motivation to work.


Workers from five different divisions throughout the Netherlands (n=186) from a taxi company participated in the survey study.


The results from the regression analyses and structural equation modeling analyses support the hypotheses: when subjective age was included in the models, chronological age was virtually unrelated to workers’ intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and motivation to continue to work for one’s organization. Moreover, subjective age was strongly related to work motivation. Specifically, workers who perceived many remaining opportunities were more intrinsically and extrinsically motivated, and those who perceived a lot of remaining time were more motivated across the board.


The findings indicate that subjective age is an important concept to include in studies focussing on successful aging, thereby contributing to life span developmental theories. Further implications for research and practice are discussed.



Akkermans, J., de Lange, A.H., van der Heijden, B.I.J.M., Kooij, D.T.A.M., Jansen, P.G.W. and Dikkers, J.S.E. (2016), "What about time? Examining chronological and subjective age and their relation to work motivation", Career Development International, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 419-439.



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