The Significance of Age When the Manager Is Young and the Subordinates Are Much Older

By Ingrid Johansson.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The purpose of this paper is to present some results of an interview study of younger managers and older subordinates in Sweden. An aim of the study was to increase the understanding of the significance of age in working life and the relations between younger managers and older subordinates. Data have been collected through semi-structured interviews with 23 younger managers who had experience of managing subordinates who were 20 years older or more. Furthermore, 19 older subordinates who had experience of being managed by managers who were at least 20 years younger were interviewed. Male and female interviewees have been selected from different kinds of organizations, lines of business and management levels. The results showed that many younger managers stressed the importance of listening to older subordinates, both in order to make them feel involved in the daily work and in order to utilize their extensive experience and knowledge. Most of the older subordinates were satisfied with the way they were being managed but some told about situations when the younger managers carried out changes too fast, were insecure or concerned about their prestige. A conclusion was that both younger and older people have much to learn from each other and that generally age was not seen as being of determinant importance in management.

Keywords: Age, Management, Younger Managers, Older Subordinates

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.77-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 563.654KB).

Dr. Ingrid Johansson

Senior Lecturer in Education, Department of Social Sciences, Mälardalen University, Sweden

I completed my doctoral thesis in 1997 and it is called Age and Work. Before that I worked in a private company for 27 years and most of the time as a personnel manager. In 1999-2000 I was an academic visitor at the University of Sheffield in the UK. Since 2000 I have been a senior lecturer at Mälardalen University, Eskiltuna, Sweden and there I have been teaching, doing research and worked with the internationalization of the university.


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