ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (11): 2183-2199.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.02183

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The antecedent mechanisms of successful aging at work

XIN Xun, LIU Tingting   

  1. Business School, Southwest University of Political Science and Law, Chongqing 401120, China
  • Received:2023-02-07 Online:2023-11-15 Published:2023-08-28

Abstract: In the context of a rapidly aging global workforce, the concept of successful aging at work has garnered considerable scholarly attention due to its pivotal role in promoting productivity improvement, career development, and the realization of work values among older workers. Following the PRISMA statement, 74 papers screened from domestic and foreign databases were reviewed, focusing on four key aspects: content analysis, classification of influencing factors, proposing a comprehensive model of antecedent mechanisms, and outlining future research prospects. First, through content analysis, the research trends and overall overview of successful aging at work are visually presented, encompassing both the research development lineage and the theoretical basis of antecedent research. Second, focusing on the antecedent studies of successful aging at work, the role of four types of factors—organizational and work environment, adaptive strategies, proactive strategies, and personal characteristics—on the achievement of successful aging at work by older workers is summarized and explored, while presenting the theoretical applications of these antecedent studies. Specifically, with regard to organizational and work environment factors, the role of job characteristics guided by the job demands-resources model has been frequently examined in current research, while the influence of specific organizational environment factors such as human resource management practices, organizational support, and leadership has been analyzed based on other organizational behavior theories such as resource conservation theory and organizational support theory. As for adaptive strategies, the impact of selection, optimization, and compensation strategies guided by selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC) theory and other adaptive work adjustment behaviors on successful aging at work is explored. Specifically, two types of studies are conducted on SOC strategies: qualitative approaches are utilized to explore the specific content of older workers' SOC strategies, and empirical studies are performed to test the predictive effect of SOC strategies as variables on successful aging at work. Regarding proactive strategies, the current research focuses on the role of multiple forms of job crafting and career-developing series of strategies employed by older workers in achieving successful aging at work. Although job crafting is an active behavior, older workers' job crafting specifically emphasizes the adaptive process of individuals to changes in the work environment as they age, in comparison to universal job crafting. Hence, certain studies that explore the forms, contents, and effects of job crafting among older workers have incorporated perspectives from lifespan developmental theories that emphasize adaptive functions, such as SOC theory and MTLD theory. Antecedent studies on personal characteristics primarily involve age, cognition, motivation, and emotionality aspects of individuals, with socioemotional selectivity theory (SST) and emotion regulation theory being widely used as guiding frameworks. Third, a comprehensive model of the antecedent mechanisms of successful aging at work is proposed by systematically summarizing the mediating role of adaptive and proactive strategies, as well as the specific situations in which organizational and work environment and individual characteristic factors assume a moderating role. This provides researchers with a more complete, explicit, and actionable research framework for exploring how successful aging at work can be achieved. Fourth, based on the aforementioned analysis and conclusions, future research can be approached from the following perspectives. To begin with, an exploration of the influence of “structural” factors on individuals' lifespan developmental process can be undertaken from an interdisciplinary standpoint, aiming to enhance the explanatory validity of theories by incorporating additional theories from the fields of lifespan developmental psychology and organizational management. Furthermore, future research should strengthen the ongoing exploration of the antecedent mechanisms of successful aging in the workplace. This includes: further expanding and deepening the understanding of the scope and mechanisms of work and organizational factors; systematically comparing the dimensions of different proactive and adaptive coping strategies in promoting successful aging, and exploring how to integrate these two types of coping strategies in theory and practice; further examining the relationships among various subjective age and time-related individual characteristic variables, and their combined effects on the selection, process, and outcomes of coping strategies in response to the challenges of aging in the workplace. By doing so, a more comprehensive and insightful understanding of both the theory and practice of successful aging at work can be achieved. Lastly, future research is encouraged to make certain optimizations and improvements in research sampling and methodology. This includes the need for greater attention to the mid-career employee population, emphasizing the utilization of qualitative research methods, longitudinal quantitative methods, and the application of experimental and intervention studies. Additionally, it is recommended to enhance the measurement of age-related changes in work and individual behaviors by incorporating independent observations, peer evaluations, archival data, and other methods in addition to subjective assessments.

Key words: older worker, successful aging at work, antecedent mechanism

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