Increasing demographic diversity is one of the major workforce trends but evidence about its effects is conflicting. The possibility of yielding both positive and negative effects led Milliken and Martins [Milliken, F. J., & Martins, L. L. (1996). Searching for common threads: Understanding the multiple effects of diversity in organizational groups. Academy of Management Review, 21, 402-433.] to call diversity a "double-edged sword." In this article, we will focus on age and disability heterogeneity, 2 dimensions of diversity that are on the rise and share important commonalities but have not yet received the attention they deserve. We will outline similarities and differences between age and disability, review the literature on age and disability diversity effects on performance, and ultimately provide a conceptual model with variables that moderate the performance effects of age and disability diversity. We argue that to forge a single-edged sword (i.e., foster positive effects of age and disability diversity while preventing negative effects), organizations should pay specific attention to 3 types of moderators: (a) leadership behavior including leader-member exchange, transformational leadership, health-focused leadership, and top management leadership, (b) organizational climates including diversity climate, climate for inclusion, and age-diversity climate, and (c) human resources practices including diversity-related HR practices, age-specific and age-inclusive HR practices, and the more individual- centered approach of idiosyncratic deals. We conclude with an outlook on future research in the fields of age and disability diversity and practical recommendations for managers and organizations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Industrial relations
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
- Life-span and Life-course Studies