The Reverse-Age Hierarchy: A Social Comparison and Attribution Perspective on Younger Supervisor- Older Subordinate Relations

  • Lin WANG (Speaker)

Activity: Talks or PresentationsOther Invited Talks or Presentations


The trend of working with younger supervisors is increasingly common in today's workplaces. Age is an important status cue for both supervisors and subordinates, and traditionally the profile of a supervisor is older than his/her subordinates. However, in younger supervisor-older subordinate dyads, the hierarchical position of the supervisor is incongruent with societal expectations based on age. In the reverse-age hierarchy, the unique interactions between supervisors and subordinates provide an opportunity to extend the leadership-followership literature. Nevertheless, despite that status incongruence of age in supervisor-subordinate relationships is becoming increasingly pervasive, there have been very limited theoretical inquiries into how supervisors and subordinates perceive, feel, and respond to breaches of normative age-hierarchy expectations.

Guided by social comparison theory, this research will take a holistic view to explore, from both the supervisor's and subordinate's perspectives, the relevant motivations and various emotions arising from social comparisons, as well as their influences on job performance and OCB/CWB. Additionally, by integrating attribution theory, this study will explore how attributions for reverse-age hierarchy in supervisor-subordinate relationships may shape social comparison processes.

I will conduct two studies to empirically test this research model. In Study 1, I will conduct a field study with a multi-wave, multi-source survey design. In Study 2, I will conduct an experimental study to provide causal implications for the hypothesized relationships.
Period5 Oct 2023
Event titlePostgraduate Seminar Series
Event typePublic Lecture