Intergenerational resource tensions in the workplace and beyond: Individual, interpersonal, institutional, international

Michael S. North, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The workforce is rapidly aging. Already at record highs, labor force participation rates of both over-55 and over-65 age segments are expected to nearly double in the immediate future. The current chapter describes how these sweeping demographic changes necessitate both the unprecedented utilization of older workers and intergenerational collaboration, but also present the danger of heightened generational tension. We describe the specific risk factors for such tensions, highlighting the presence of generational boundaries at multiple levels: (a) individual, (b) interpersonal, (c) institutional, and (d) international. Drawing from our own work and relevant management literature, we then identify three broad domains within which intergenerational tensions are particularly salient at each of these levels: active Succession tensions over enviable resources and influence (e.g., employment), passive Consumption tensions over shared asset usage (e.g., healthcare) and symbolic Identity tensions over figurative space (e.g., cultural fit) (SCI). We conclude with suggestions for potential interventions, and major open areas for future organizational research, both of which should focus on how to maximize the utility of unprecedented intergenerational collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-179
Number of pages21
JournalResearch in Organizational Behavior
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


  • Ageism
  • Generational Attitudes
  • Generations
  • Intergenerational Perceptions
  • Intergenerational Tension
  • Older Workers
  • Organization Studies
  • Organizational Behavior


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