Advertisement

Reifying Age-Related Employment Problems Through the Constructions of the “Problematic” Older and Younger Worker

  • Cara Lynn Scheuer
  • Albert J. Mills
Chapter

Abstract

This study investigates the discursive representation of the older/younger worker within business textbooks over the past 100 years. Through Critical Discourse Analysis of these textbooks, we demonstrate the textbook authors’ privileging of the male, able-bodied worker who is neither too young nor too old to be a “productive” employee. Older and younger workers were situated as falling outside this “ideal” age range and so were characterized as being highly “problematic.” We review our results within the context of several broader discourses such as able-bodiedness, gender, generational differences, and diversity management. We also discuss the power implications of our findings, showing how the selective representations of the older/younger worker serve to privilege managers by granting them the authority to control these so-called “problematic” workers.

Keywords

Critical Discourse Analysis Older workers Younger workers Power Control 

References (Note: *Indicates analysed textbooks)

  1. Ainsworth, S. (2001). The discursive construction of older worker identity: A reflection on process and methods. Tamara: Journal of Critical Postmodern Organization Science, 1(4), 29–47.Google Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, S., & Hardy, C. (2007). The construction of the older worker: Privilege, paradox and policy. Discourse & Communication, 1(13), 267–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, A. G., Mandeville, M. J., & Anderson, J. M. (1942). Industrial management. New York: The Ronald Press Company. *.Google Scholar
  4. Balderston, C. C., Karabasz, V. S., & Breecht, R. P. (1937). Management of an enterprise. New York: Prentice-Hall. *.Google Scholar
  5. Barnes, A. K. (2013). Breaking through generational stereotypes. American Society for Training and Development, 67(6), 30–33.Google Scholar
  6. Byars, L. L., & Rue, L. W. (1979). Personnel management: Concepts and applications. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company. *.Google Scholar
  7. Daft, R. L., & Steers, R. M. (1986). Organizations: A micro/macro approach. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company. *.Google Scholar
  8. Davies, B., & Harré, R. (1990). Positioning: The discursive production of selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 20, 43–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davis, K. (1957). Human relations in business. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. *.Google Scholar
  10. Deyoe, R. H., & Fox, T. L. (2011). Identifying strategies to minimize workplace conflict due to generational differences. Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, 4, 1–17.Google Scholar
  11. Du Gay, P. (1996). Consumption and identity at work. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. London/New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  13. Foster, K.R. (2016). Generation as a politics of representation. International Journal of Work Innovation, 1(4), 375–391.Google Scholar
  14. Foster, J., & Mills, A. (2013). Construction work: Evolving discourses of the “worker” in management textbooks, 1920s to the first decade of the 21st century. Journal of Workplace Rights, 17(3–4), 443–466.Google Scholar
  15. Gallo, W. T., Bradley, E. H., Teng, H., & Kasl, S. V. (2006). The effect of recurrent involuntary job loss on the depressive symptoms of older US workers. International Archives Of Occupational & Environmental Health, 80(2), 109–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hardy, C., & Phillips, N. (2004). Discourse and power. In D. Grant, C. Hardy, C. Oswick, & L. Putnam (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational discourse. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
  17. Johnston, W., & Packer, A. (1987). Workforce 2000. Indianapolis: Hudson Institute.Google Scholar
  18. Kaasila-Pakanen, A. (2016). A postcolonial deconstruction of diversity management and multiculturalism. In R. Bendl, I. Bleijenbergh, E. Henttonen, & A. J. Mills (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of diversity in organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kapoor, C., & Solomon, N. (2011). Understanding and managing generational differences in the workplace. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, 3(4), 308–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kelly, M., & Williams, C. (2015). Busn 8. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. *.Google Scholar
  21. Laird, M. D., Harvey, P., & Lancaster, J. (2015). Accountability, entitlement, tenure, and satisfaction in Generation Y. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 30(1), 87–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Land, G. (1990). The essentials of United States history: America since 1941, emergence as a world power (Vol. 6). New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  23. McLaren, P., & Helms Mills, J. (2010). Appropriation, manipulation, and silence: A critical hermeneutic analysis of the management textbook as a tool of the corporate discourse. Management & Organizational History, 5(3–4), 408–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mills, A., & Hatfield, J. (1999). From imperialism to globalization: Internationalization and the management text. In S. Clegg, E. Ibarra-Colado, & L. Beuno-Rodrigues (Eds.), Global management: Universal theories and local realities (pp. 37–67). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mir, A. (2003). The hegemonic discourse of management texts. Journal of Management Education, 27, 734–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Newman, W. H., Summer, C. E., & Warren, E. K. (1967). The process of management: Concepts, behavior, and practice (second ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. *.Google Scholar
  27. Osland, J. S., Kolb, D. A., Rubin, I. M., & Turner, M. E. (2007). Organizational behavior: An experiential approach (eighth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. *.Google Scholar
  28. Phillips, N., & Hardy, C. (2002). Discourse analysis investigation processes of social construction: Sage University paper series on qualitative research methods (Vol. 50). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  29. Pritchard, K., & Whiting, R. (2014). Baby boomers and the lost generation: On the discursive construction of generations at work. Organization Studies, 35(11), 1605–1626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Riach, K. (2007). ‘Othering’ older worker identity in recruitment. Human Relations, 60(11), 1701–1726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Robbins, E. C. (1914). Railway conductors: A study in organized labor. New York: Columbia University Press. *.Google Scholar
  32. Schermerhorn, J. R., Hunt, J. G., & Osborn, R. N. (1997). Organizational behavior (sixth ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. *.Google Scholar
  33. Smith, E. D. (1928). Psychology for executives: A study of human nature in industry. New York/London: Harper & Brothers Publishers. *.Google Scholar
  34. Steers, R. M. (1988). Introduction to organizational behavior (third ed.). Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company. *.Google Scholar
  35. Strachan, G., French, E. L., & Burgess, J. (2010). The origins and development of managing diversity. In G. Strachan, E. L. French, & J. Burgess (Eds.), Managing diversity in Australia: Theory and practice (pp. 1–16). Sydney: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  36. Taylor, F. (1914). The principles of scientific management. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  37. Thomas, R., Hardy, C., Cutcher, L., & Ainsworth, S. (2014). What’s age got to do with it? On the critical analysis of age and organizations. Organization Studies, 35(11), 1569–1584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Trethewey, A. (2001). Reproducing and resisting the master narrative of decline. Management Communication Quarterly, 15(2), 183–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). Digest of education statistics, 2013 (NCES 2015-011) Chapter 3. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=37.
  40. Winker, G., & Degele, N. (2011). Intersectionality as multi-level analysis: Dealing with social inequality. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 18(1), 51–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cara Lynn Scheuer
    • 1
  • Albert J. Mills
    • 2
  1. 1.Coastal Carolina UniversityConwayUSA
  2. 2.Saint Mary’s UniversitySobey School of BusinessHalifaxCanada

Personalised recommendations