Human resources management/organizational behavior
Age, innovative behavior, inter-departmental collaboration, personnel outcomes
Although the topic of aging at work is receiving increasing research attention, it remains unclear if aging employees are less innovative at work and what consequences this relation entails. We integrate the literature on aging with research on innovation to gain a better understanding of whether—and if so, when—employees’ aging harms their professional outcomes via decreased innovative behavior. Multi-source, time-lag data on 305 project managers provides support for the idea that age does not always go hand in hand with low innovative behavior and, subsequently, low professional outcomes. Rather, inter-departmental collaboration works as a social buffer for these negative effects. Specifically, aging employees with low inter-departmental collaboration are less innovative and subsequently less successful. In contrast, the “age handicap” vanishes when aging employees collaborate with other members in their organizations. Our results highlight the importance for organizations to foster collaboration among their members, either formally or informally.
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