Is there a relationship between age and job performance? It's an important question for many reasons, including the fact that claims of age discrimination appear to be on the rise. Ng and Feldman set out to better understand this issue and their meta-analysis is published in the March '08 issue of Journal of Applied Psychology.
Previous research has generally shown a weak relationship between age and job performance--at least when we look at objective measures. But the current authors set out to use a much broader array (10 to be exact) of criterion measures, including workplace aggression, safety performance, and OCBs.
So what did they find? Well, there's where things get a bit complex. Although there did not appear to be a relationship between age and several outcomes, including core task performance, creativity, and performance in training programs, it had stronger relationships with the other seven measures. In addition, age had a curvilinear relationship with core task performance and CWBs, and results varied depending on how the study was conducted.
So does age have a relationship with job performance? Like all important research questions, the answer is an emphatic it depends.
There's quite a bit of good research in this volume, including:
- The development of a potentially useful way to predict team member performance
- A fascinating look at how frame-of-reference influences the validity of personality measures (pre-published version here)
- A discussion of the importance of the distinction between constructs (e.g., ability, personality) and methods (e.g., interviews) when comparing predictors in personnel selection
- How to test for adverse impact when your numbers are small (hint: significant testing bad, z-score good)
- Last but not least, a meta-analysis of the relationship direction between attitudes and job performance--what causes what? (hint: attitude matters...but not that much)