Curvilinear relationships between age and job performance and the role of job complexity

Karanika-Murray, Maria, van Veldhoven, Marc, Michaelides, George ORCID:, Baguley, Thomas, Gkiontsi, Dimitra and Harrison, Natalie (2024) Curvilinear relationships between age and job performance and the role of job complexity. Work, Aging and Retirement, 10 (2). 156–173. ISSN 2054-4650

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Despite suggestions that work performance varies with age, the empirical evidence is inconclusive and contradictory. Possible reasons for this are the lack of differentiation between different types of performance and a naïve assumption of a negative linear relationship between age and task performance across the working lifespan. With this study we question and revisit these expectations. We take a lifespan perspective to explore differential and curvilinear relationships between age (measured as chronological age) and three types of task performance (task proficiency, proactivity, and adaptivity), moderated by job complexity (measured as cognitive demands). Using Bayesian polynomial regression on survey data from 903 employees, we tested the relationships between age and each performance type, with job complexity as a moderator. The data indicated a U-shaped age-adaptivity relationship (main effects for job complexity) and an S-shaped age-proactivity relationship that was more pronounced under low job complexity (interaction effect). We identify the turning points for these changes, which show midlife as a critical period for changes in performance where the job context itself shapes the gradient and direction of these changes. Our findings provide crucial evidence that different types of job performance vary by age and the role of perceived job complexity in explaining trajectories in proactivity and adaptivity. Implications for job design, organizational interventions, and human resource management are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This work was supported by the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity - PROGRESS (2007–2013), implemented by the European Commission (grant number VP/2012/007/0503 to M. Karanika-Murray & T. Baguley).
Uncontrolled Keywords: age,job performance,job complexity,lifespan perspective,geriatrics and gerontology,economics, econometrics and finance (miscellaneous),industrial relations,life-span and life-course studies,sociology and political science,organizational behavior and human resource management,3* ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700/2717
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > Norwich Business School
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Employment Systems and Institutions
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2022 10:30
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2024 13:30
DOI: 10.1093/workar/waac006


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