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Supervisor-Subordinate Age Dissimilarity and Performance Ratings: The Buffering Effects of Supervisory Relationship and Practice

van der Heijden, Beatrice and Scholarios, D.M. (2010) Supervisor-Subordinate Age Dissimilarity and Performance Ratings: The Buffering Effects of Supervisory Relationship and Practice. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 71 (3). pp. 231-258.

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Abstract

Using 394 pairs of employees and their immediate supervisors working in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in three northern European countries, this study examined the effect of workplace moderators on the link between relational demography and supervisor ratings of performance. Directional age differences between superior and subordinate (i.e., status incongruence caused when the supervisor is older or younger than his/her subordinate) and non-directional age differences were used as predictors of supervisor ratings of occupational expertise. The quality of the supervisor-subordinate relationship and the existence of positive age-related supervisory practices were examined as moderators of this relationship. The results provide no support for a relationship between directional age differences and age-related stereotyping by supervisors in ratings of performance, neither for the effects of age-related supervisory practices. However, high quality supervisor-subordinate relationships did moderate the effects of age dissimilarity on supervisory ratings. The implications of these findings for performance appraisal methodologies and recommendations for further research are discussed.

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