Title: HRM and the employment of older workers: Germany and Britain compared

Authors: Heike Schroder, Dirk Hofacker, Michael Muller-Camen

Addresses: Business School, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BT, UK. ' State Institute for Family Research, University of Bamberg (ifb), Heinrichsdamm 4, 96047 Bamberg, Germany. ' Business School, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BT, UK

Abstract: This study examines Human Resource Management (HRM) policies and practices towards older workers in Britain and Germany. While it is widely suggested that older workers have to be better integrated into the labour market, youth-centric HRM is still prevalent. However, HRM is shaped by multiple and contradictory pressures from the international and national institutional environments. We test this dynamic by analysing two national surveys, the German firm panel (IAB) and the British Workplace and Employment Relations Survey (WERS). Our findings suggest that the institutional environment shapes HR policies and practices distinctively in both countries. We find that age discrimination at the workplace is more prevalent in Germany than in Britain, which can be explained by divergent institutional patterns. As a result, we argue that although both countries will have to continue fostering an age-neutral HR approach, this has to take country-specific institutional peculiarities into account.

Keywords: older workers; age discrimination; age management; early retirement; IAB firm panel; Workplace and Employment Relations Survey; WERS; human resource management; HRM; Great Britain; Germany; ageing workforce.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRDM.2009.023451

International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, 2009 Vol.9 No.2/3, pp.162 - 179

Available online: 24 Feb 2009

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