Sub-theme 37: Inclusiveness of Ageing Employees in Organizations

Sonja A. Sackmann
Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany
Krista Jaakson
University of Tartu, Estonia
Hanna Salminen
Tampere University, Finland

Call for Papers

In 2050, there will be more than 2 billion people over the age of 60 in the world, twice as many as in 2020 (United Nations, 2019). Taking a look at studies on ageing in organizations, the concept of age is, however, rather context specific than chronological (Hulko, 2009). In addition, age tends to have a “gendered nature” (Foster & Walker, 2013: 3) as women are more prone to exclusion and poverty in older age. Hence, we want to focus in this sub-theme on the inclusiveness of ageing employees and older women, in particular, at the organizational level.
Regardless of the variations in institutional and cultural contexts, organizations have a crucial role in promoting workplace equality. Unfortunately, inequalities are reproduced by hiring, recruitment, promotion, role allocation, and compensation; interrelated practices potentially producing cumulative effects (Amis et al., 2020). Diversity programs, merit-pay and other more recent workplace practices have not helped much in reducing gender and age disparities in organizations: older employees are frequently the main victims of downsizing or restructuring (Buyens et al., 2009) and women remain discriminated (Belliveau, 2012). In addition, a number of myths still exist, e.g. older employees are less productive, more ill, and generally resistant to change (Salminen et al., 2019). In short, gendered ageism is considered a double jeopardy for employees (Krekula et al., 2018).
The purpose of this sub-theme is to bring together a group of researchers keen to advance our knowledge about the antecedents, successful applications and consequences of organizational practices regarding the inclusion of older employees and especially older women in the workplace. Age-sensitive organizational practices such as recruitment and selection, assignment of tasks, extent of autonomy, wages, promotions, talent management, training opportunities, career counseling, workplace bullying, employee participation etc. are topics of interest in this sub-theme.
We are interested in organizational characteristics that are associated with workplace practices concerning ageing. Among others, we encourage submissions exploring the role of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in cultivating or curbing inclusive practices in host countries. Workplace policies are largely affected by MNEs home-country regulations and culture (Sackmann, 2006; Pisani et al., 2017), but their effects for affiliations abroad are debated in the literature (Wang et al., 2016). While larger firms tend to be more socially responsible and, hence, more considerate towards their employees and more “age-aware” (Ehnert & Harry, 2012), Wickert et al. (2016) argue that this may be due to their communication and impression management rather than their actual behavior. The degree of ethical conduct (Kaptein, 2008; Trevino & Weaver, 2003) may be another organizational aspect of interest since ethical behavior is at the core of an inclusive culture (Pless & Maak, 2004). Yet, little evidence exists regarding the relationship between workplace inclusiveness and culture or similar constructs (Rabl et al., 2018). Furthermore, the current research on managing ageing employees has been mainly gender-blind (Foster & Walker, 2013).
Hence, our sub-theme invites theoretical, conceptual and empirical contributions that investigate existing business and management practices regarding inclusiveness of the above-mentioned employee groups. More specifically, we encourage contributions that explore, for example, the following issues:

  • How do organizational size, tenure, ownership structures, industry, or for-profit vs. non-profit affect the inclusiveness of ageing employees?

  • How do new ways of working and employment arrangements affect workplace inclusiveness of ageing employees?

  • How does organizational culture affect the inclusiveness of ageing employees?

  • How do codes of conduct, ethical codes, or honor codes foster the inclusiveness of ageing employees?

  • Which kind of trends exist in the expectations of ageing employees themselves regarding inclusiveness? Are there any country differences?

  • How does the implementation of new technology including machine learning and AI affect the inclusiveness of ageing employees?

  • How do ageing and gender intertwine in the discussions of workplace inclusiveness?

We welcome a broad array of methodologies ranging from qualitative or quantitative analysis to simulations and experimental approaches. We are also interested in studies across industries and countries. Exploring different empirical approaches and contexts, this sub-theme will contribute to enriching our research avenues within the broad topic of inclusiveness, equality and diversity in organizations.


  • Amis, J.M., Mair, J., & Munir, K.A. (2020): “The organizational reproduction of inequality.” Academy of Management Annals, 14 (1), 195–230.
  • Belliveau, M.A. (2012): “Engendering inequity? How social accounts create vs. merely explain unfavorable pay outcomes for women.” Organization Science, 23 (4), 1154–1174.
  • Buyens, D., Van Dijk, H., Dewilde, T., & De Vos, A. (2009): “The ageing workforce: Perceptions of career ending.” Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24 (2), 102–117.
  • Ehnert, I., & Harry, W. (2012): “Recent developments and future prospects on sustainable human resource management.” Management Revue, 23 (3), 221–238.
  • Foster, L., & Walker, A. (2013): “Gender and active ageing in Europe.” European Journal of Ageing, 10 (1), 3–10.
  • Hulko, W. (2009): “The time- and context-contingent nature of intersectionality and interlocking oppressions.” Affilia, 24 (1), 44–55.
  • Kaptein, M. (2008): “Developing and testing a measure for the ethical culture of organizations: the corporate ethical virtues model.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29 (7), 923–947.
  • Krekula, C., Nikander, P., & Wilińska, M. (2018): “Multiple marginalizations based on age: Gendered ageism and beyond.” In: L. Ayalon & C. Tesch-Römer (eds.): Contemporary Perspectives on Ageism. International Perspectives on Aging, Vol 19. Cham: Springer, 33–50.
  • Pisani, N., Kourula, A., Kolk, A., & Meijer, R. (2017): “How global is international CSR research? Insights and recommendations from a systematic review.” Journal of World Business, 52 (5), 591–614.
  • Pless, N., & Maak, T. (2004): “Building an inclusive diversity culture: Principles, processes and practice.” Journal of Business Ethics, 54 (2), 129–147.
  • Rabl, T., del Carmen Triana, M., Byun, S.Y., & Bosch, L. (2018): “Diversity management efforts as an ethical responsibility: How employees’ perceptions of an organizational integration and learning approach to diversity affect employee behavior.” Journal of Business Ethics, 161 (3), 531550.
  • Sackmann, S.A. (2006): “Leading responsibly across cultures.” In: T. Maak & N.M. Pless (eds.): Responsible Leadership in Business: A Relational Approach. London: Routledge, 142–157.
  • Salminen, H.M., Wang, Q., & Aaltio, I. (2019): “Aging as a topic in a business magazine: An opportunity or threat for management?” Baltic Journal of Management, 14 (2), 198–211.
  • Stöber, T., Kotzian, P., & Weißenberger, B.E. (2019): “Culture follows design: Code design as an antecedent of the ethical culture.” Business Ethics: A European Review, 28 (1), 112–128.
  • United Nations (2019): World Population Prospects, available at:
  • Wang, H., Tong, L., Takeuchi, R., & George, G. (2016): “Corporate social responsibility: an overview and new research directions: thematic issue on corporate social responsibility.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (2), 534–544.
  • Wickert, C., Scherer, A.G., & Spence, L.J. (2016): “Walking and talking corporate social responsibility: Implications of firm size and organizational cost.” Journal of Management Studies, 53 (7), 1169–1196.
Sonja A. Sackmann holds the Chair of Organizational Behavior in the School of Economics and Management at the Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany, she is Director of the Institute Developing Viable Organizations and Guest Professor at the University in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Sonja’s research focuses on cultural issues in organizational settings, including the impact of culture on organizational members such as inclusion, on issues of leadership, organization design and performance, culture development and change as well as inter- and cross-cultural management. She has published several books and articles in these areas both in English and German.
Krista Jaakson is the Head of Chair of Management at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu, Estonia. Her research fields are individual and organisational values, ethical culture, and management. Krista has published in journals such as ‘Cross Cultural Management – An International Journal’, ‘New Technology, Work and Employment’, ‘Economic and Industrial Democracy’, ‘Crime, Law, and Social Change’, ‘Baltic Journal of Management’, among others.
Hanna Salminen is a research specialist at Tampere University, Finland. She is also a part-time post-doctoral researcher and a docent at the University of Jyväskylä, School of Business and Economics, Finland. Hanna’s research interests are related to human resource management (HRM), organizational behaviour, ageing employees, changing careers and sustainability. She has published several articles and book chapters related to ageing employees, changing careers and HRM.