Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 879–891 | Cite as

When Does What Other People Think Matter? The Influence of Age on the Motivators of Organizational Identification

  • Malayka KlimchakEmail author
  • Anna-Katherine Ward
  • Michael Matthews
  • Keith Robbins
  • Haozhen Zhang
Original Paper


Demographic shifts in the labor market require scholars and practitioners to develop a more nuanced understanding of leading and motivating employees. The current study uses life span psychology theories to examine how age moderates the impact of an external motivator (perceived external prestige) and an internal motivator (learning goal orientation) on organizational identification. A sample of 101 employees completed two surveys with items measuring learning goal orientation, perceived external prestige, and organizational identification over a 4-month period. Demographic data was collected from the organization’s HRIS system and hierarchical regression was used to test the hypotheses. Perceived external prestige positively predicted organizational identification for younger employees, whereas learning goal orientation positively predicted organizational identification for older employees. These findings suggest that organizational leaders should take a life span perspective to human resource management practices, noting that different methods should be used to attract, motivate, and retain employees of different ages. Social identity theory has been used to explain various interpersonal workplace behaviors, but the literature has thus far not addressed how identification motivators differ for younger and older employees. This study begins to address that gap and provides initial support for the use of life span theories in the area of employee motivation.


Organizational identification Age Motivation Learning goal orientation 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Business AdministrationWinthrop UniversityRock HillUSA
  2. 2.College of Business AdministrationVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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