Collaborative relationships and successful aging at work
Research has indicated that collaborating with others serves a number of important functions for older adults (Dixon, 2000). While it is accepted that the pursuit of such relationships is likely necessary because of cognitive and physical changes typically associated with the aging process, the relationships may provide mechanisms for improvements in several areas of functioning. One area of functioning that presents an increasing challenge to older adults is work. Changes in technology, social norms, demographics and jobs themselves may pose serious threats to older workers' career longevity and abilities to age successfully at work.
This dissertation is an extension of previous research that successfully identified four unique functions of collaboration (FOC) served by work relationships among a sample of older workers (aged 40–82): (a) Opportunities for Learning and Development, (b) Compensation for Age-Related Physical and Cognitive Changes, (c) Protection Against Employment Threats and Discrimination, and (d) Networking and Alliances. At the broadest level, Study 1 suggested that collaborating is viewed as a resource that may assist in the management of age-related issues at work. It was clear that the usefulness of collaborative coping strategies wax and wane across four equal age groups, corresponding to a life-span theory of development approach (Baltes, 1987).
The dissertation project further assessed the internal consistency and criterion validity of the FOC measure. The research addressed the following major questions: (a) the extent to which the FOC predict components of career “success” such as perceived well-being and stress (b) the extent to which those predictive relationships are moderated by health status, job type, or perceptions of discrimination, (c) the relationship of the FOC construct to (1) frequency and use of collaborative relationships, (2) occupational coping styles, (3) Selection, Optimization and Compensation (SOC) strategies in the workplace, and (4) overall and domain-specific self-efficacy. Study results were mixed, but nevertheless revealed some theoretical implications for the constructs. There were two major conclusions of the research project. First, participants recognize the value in accessing others at work as a coping resource for age-related changes. Second, psychometrics indicated that the measures require further revision prior to additional research on the construct.
0620: Developmental psychology