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The influence of the age difference on trust between young managers and older subordinates: A qualitative study among employees of a Dutch multinational production company
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

An aging population results in retirement ages going up and the age difference between subordinates and managers growing bigger. Despite an extensive literature review on trust within organizations, we have not been able to identify studies related to the influence of age difference between managers and their subordinates. The main purpose of this thesis is to gain a deeper understanding of the influence of age difference on trust in relationships between managers and subordinates, and more specifically how the age difference influences the trust in the relationship with their older subordinates. Our research question has been formulated as follows:

How does age difference influence trust between young managers and their older subordinates?

Despite studies on trust increasing in popularity over the last years, we identified a research gap since there is no previous studies addressing the influence of age difference on trust between managers and subordinates. Specifically, the influence of the age difference between young managers and older subordinates and the trust between them in their relationship.

In order to fulfil the purpose of our thesis we have conducted a qualitative research, where we gathered qualitative data through the use of semi-structured interviews. These interviews were conducted in a Dutch multinational production company employing approximately 25.000 employees. By analysing the data we gathered through our semi-structured interviews and relating it to the theoretical framework we built up from pre-existing literature, we were able to answer our research question.

As a theoretical foundation, we have used the key theories on trust: trust, factors of perceived trustworthiness, antecedent of trustworthy behaviour and employee-organisation relationship. The findings demonstrate that the age difference has influence on an individual’s behaviour, employee expectations and factors of trust. We found an influence of the age difference on benevolence as well as for ability. Young managers are perceived to have different values than older subordinates, resulting in an influence on integrity. Factors related to the social exchange influence trust in other ways as interpersonal relationships have been found to influence the age difference. Finally, the age difference does influence individuals and relational factors due to the expectations of young managers being perceived as strengthening trust with their subordinates.

Our thesis has contributed to the theory of trust by gaining a deeper knowledge of the influence of age difference on trust between managers and their subordinates. Also we have opened up new areas for research concerning the influence of age difference on trust in other industries or reversed situations. Our thesis has provided management scholars and managers with a deeper understanding of trust in manager-subordinate relationships, providing young managers with theories on how to improve their relationships with their older subordinates.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 113
Keywords [en]
Trust, management, age, subordinates, multinational, relationship, social identity theory, age difference, young managers, older subordinates
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-140382OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-140382DiVA, id: diva2:1147890
External cooperation
Anonymous
Educational program
Master's Programme in Management; Master's Programme in Marketing
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-10-09 Created: 2017-10-09 Last updated: 2017-10-09Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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