Resource Scarcity and Prescriptive Attitudes Generate Subtle, Intergenerational Older-Worker Exclusion

Michael S. North, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Prior work describes specific, prescriptive resource tensions between generations, comprising active Succession, passive Consumption, and symbolic Identity (SCI; North and Fiske). The current paper focuses on how these domains potentially drive intergenerational exclusion in work-related networking and training spheres. Studies 1a-c-each focusing on a different SCI domain-manipulated perceived resource availability between generations, then introduced a professional networking opportunity. Across studies, scarcity reduced the likelihood of young participants' networking engagement with older workers who violated SCI resource expectations. Study 2 impelled participants to allocate scarce training resources among three similarly qualified but different-aged employees (younger, middle-aged, and older). Older workers received the lowest such investment, particularly among younger participants-an effect driven by Succession beliefs, per mediation analyses. Overall, the findings emphasize resource tensions in driving older workers' subtle exclusion by younger generations; minimizing such tensions will be critical for aging, increasingly intergenerational workplaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-145
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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