Van Knippenberg and Schippers, 2007). Nishii and Mayer (2009) and Guillaume et al.
(2017) argued that in order to increase this understanding and, more importantly,
help organizations capitalize on age diversity in their workplaces, more researchneeds to
be devoted to identifying and understanding new moderators in this context.The present
study addresses this need by examining two moderators that have been overlooked in
work group age diversity research, yet they are likely to play an important role in the
performance of these groups, status, and trust. The selection of these moderators was
informed by the results of prior exploratory research conducted by the authors of this
paper (Scheuer and Loughlin, 2017). This involved conducting in-depth interviews with
older/younger workers regarding the factors that they felt contributed to the success or
failure of work projects assigned to their age-diverse teams. Through an inductive
analysis of the interview data, status and trust surfaced as two of the most critical success
factors for these teams, thereby prompting further investigation in the present study.
In the literature review that follows further detail is provided on these two factors as well
as on their hypothesized effects on the performance of age-diverse work groups.
2. Literature review
2.1 Status congruity as a moderator
The notion of status dates back to Max Weber’s (1922) seminal work on social stratification.
In his three-component theory of stratification, Weber argued that “power can take a variety
of forms; it can be shown in the economic order through their class, in the political order
through their party, and in the social order through their status”(Hurst, 2007, p. 202).
In general, people may be said to occupy “high status positions when they are able to
control, by order or by influence, other people’s conduct; when they derive prestige from
holding important offices; or when their conduct is esteemed by others”(Alexander, 2016,
pp. 31-32). There are many different determinants or indicators of status. For example,
status can be ascribed (i.e. assigned to individuals at birth without reference to any innate
abilities), such as the case with an individuals’sex, race, or family relationships. Status can
also be achieved or gained through individual merit or competition (Alexander, 2016)
such as through educational pursuits, advancements up the organizational hierarchy, with
increasing years of service/tenure, and/or other earned credentials.
Regardless of whether status is ascribed or achieved, status must be attributed by other
group members, i.e., it arises from the perceptions or subjective assessments of others rather
than being claimed by any one individual (van Dijk and van Engen, 2013). Status can also
vary according to the social context (Alexander, 2016). In a North American context, high
status is typically ascribed to individuals in the workplace who are more tenured, older, who
are male and/or that occupy masculine qualities, who have achieved higher levels of
education or a more prestigious degree, and who are higher up in the organizational
hierarchy (e.g. a manager or director as opposed to a frontline employee; Hirschfeld and
Thomas, 2011). High levels of status can also be ascribed to individuals if they occupy a
special skill or have expertise in a high-demand area or even due to their association with
powerful others, e.g., from being the boss’s“pet.”In a work group context, “status is in a
large part attributed based on the extent to which group members’characteristics are
perceived to resemble the characteristics that are considered to be important”to the success
of the group (van Dijk and van Engen, 2013, p. 226).
Although status has been entrenched within society for quite some time (Weber 1922),
this topic has become more relevant in recent years due to the growing prevalence of
status-based differences within work groups (Triana et al., 2017). With the changing
demographics in a global society, today’s organizations are becoming more diverse with
respect to a variety of demographically oriented status attributes, such as race, gender,
nationality, and age (Guillaume et al., 2017; van Dijk et al., 2012), thereby increasing the