Davies, Eleanor M.M., Dhingra, Katie and Stephenson, John (2013) The Role of Line Managers in Retirement Management and Their Perceptions of Their Role of the Timing of Employee Retirement. Discussion Paper. Netspar.

Purpose – The focus of this study is on line managers’ attitudes towards their management
role in respect of employee retirement. This study has two main aims. Firstly, it explores line
managers’ perspectives regarding retirement management (RM): their perceived
responsibility for RM, the training they have received and the degree of decision latitude they
experience in RM. Secondly, the study examines the factors that affect the extent to which
line managers’ perceive it to be their role to influence the timing of employees’ retirement
decisions. This is modelled as a function of employee characteristics and line manager
attributes. The purpose of this research is to inform practice by describing differences in line
managers’ perceptions about retirement management and identify potential sources of bias in
decision-making surrounding their decision-making.
Design/methodology/approach – The design incorporates two studies: a survey of line
mangers (N = 129) which investigates their attitudes towards RM, and a vignette study. In the
survey, line managers were presented with a list of behaviours associated with managing
older workers and asked to indicate which level in the organisation they perceived to be
responsible for that (line manager, human resources or both). In addition, line managers’
experiences of RM training and their assessments of how much latitude they have for decision
making in the area were measured.
In the vignette study, 192 scenarios were created which described hypothetical older workers
based on the following variables: gender, grade, health, attitude towards retirement, work
enjoyment, work performance and ease of replacement. Line managers (N = 129) were asked
to indicate the extent to which they perceive that they have a role to play in the timing of
older workers’ retirement. Information about the line managers (demographics, attitudes to
retirement and experience) was extracted from the survey and included in the analysis.
Multilevel logit analysis was used to model the probability of the respondents’ perceptions of
their role in the timing of the retirement decision. The information was combined and
multilevel models were estimated, with vignettes at the lower level (Level 1) of the multilevel
structure and respondents at the upper level (Level 2).
Findings – Line managers recognise their own role in retirement management activities, but
perceive that a number of activities are shared with the centralised HR departments. Line
managers also reported low levels of training in RM but acknowledge relatively high decision
latitude in responding to requests for flexible working requests. In terms of their role in the
timing of employee retirement, line manager characteristics, but not employee characteristics,
were found to exert an influence on line managers’ perceptions of their role. Specifically, the
gender and age of the manager, and whether or not the manager has prior experience of
managing employees over the age of 65 were substantively associated with the probability
that a manager will consider themselves to have a role to play in the timing of an employee’s
retirement. Female managers, older managers and managers with greater expectations of their
own later retirement were more likely to perceive a role in influencing employee retirement.
Research limitation / implications – Respondents are asked to make decisions based on
hypothetical scenarios.
Originality value - The focus of the study is specifically on line managers perceptions of
their own role. The study makes a contribution by integrating both line manager and
employee characteristics in understanding line managers’ views on their role in employee

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