The impact of perceived human resource management system strength on older workers' mental well-being, in-role performance behaviours, and satisfaction with learning opportunities

  • Jude Alexandra Caroline Preston

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The number and proportion of older workers in the workforce is increasing. This thesisexamined the effect of normal psychological aging on the future time perspective and goalorientation of this demographic group, and the effects that these age-related changes have onin-role performance behaviours, satisfaction with the learning opportunities afforded to themby their organisation, and their mental well-being. The work is grounded in socioemotionalselectivity theory (SST, Carstensen, 1992, 1993,1995; Carstensen & Charles, 1998;Carstensen, Isaacowitz & Charles, 1999) which postulates that as people age they perceivetheir future as increasingly limited and achieve greater emotional control. They resultantlybecome progressively less focused on developmental goals. This thesis examined howemployee perceptions of human resource management system strength (Bowen & Ostroff,2004) change the relationship between time perspective and goal orientation, and thus themagnitude of the effects of goal orientation on the outcome variables. To facilitate this, itwas necessary to develop survey-based measurement instruments to measure goalorientation and positive emotional experience (Study 1), and to adapt an existing measure ofHRM system strength to suit the sample population in Study 2. This latter study collectedmulti-source data from 151 employees and their line manager, using a survey method.Mediation and moderated mediation analysis revealed that changing time perspective, rather than age per se, accounts for changes in employee goal orientation, which mediates the relationship between time perspective and employee mental well-being, but not performance or satisfaction with learning opportunities. This mediation effect was then shown to be moderated by how strong employees perceive the human resource management system to be,as implemented by their line manager, thus demonstrating how line managers can materially affect the mental well-being of their direct reports. This is particularly important during periods of high levels of organisational change activity when employees are expected to learn new materials, processes and work within changing team structures.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHelen J Shipton (Supervisor) & Jonathan Crawshaw (Supervisor)


  • Socioemotional selectivity Theory (SST)
  • human resource management system strength
  • future time perspective
  • goal orientation
  • line managers as agents of HRM processes

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