A Study of Ageing Within an Industrial Organisation: Age Structure and Its Behavioural Implications

  • Paul R. Sparrow

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis forms part of an applied project for a multi-national organisation. The aim is to determine the extent of ageing within the organisation and its performance implications. The thesis is divided into three parts, each containing three chapters. A glossary of notation and terminology is provided.

In Part One, both the role of age as a factor in employment, and the development of operational age structures are discussed. The total manpower stock is classified into occupations and the age and lenght of service structures are analysed. A typology is developed and sampled, and a retrospective framework employed to study longitudinal change in age/service structures. A series of age/service behaviour patterns for different types of manpower movement is established.

In Part Two, a computer ageing simulation technique which models the established age/service behaviour patterns is developed. It is used to project occupational age/service structures into the future, and is found to be both reliable and valid. On the basis of both the projections and the retrospective study, the age-linked characteristics of occupations are diagnosed and classified.

In Part Three, evidene relating age to work performance is discussed, and a performance appraisal carried out on a job previously diagnosed as possibly showing such a relationship. The quality, efficiency and quantity of performance, and time worked are analysed across the variables of age, length of service, training experience and task complexity. An age/work performance relationship is established, but found to be mediated by both training experience and task complexity.

It is concluded that use of the simulation technique in conjunction with performance information would provide a useful human resource planning system. However, the previously neglected variable of training experience must be incorporated into both manpower models and performance appraisals when considering the implications of ageing.
Date of AwardMar 1984
Original languageEnglish


  • ageing within industrial organisation
  • age structure
  • behavioural implications
  • manpower
  • work performance

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