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Sloan Center News

Aging & Work Seizes Global Challenge

21 May 2008—Until recently, Boston College’s Center on Aging & Work has focused primarily on engaging US employers in collaborative evidence-based research on quality of employment. But just as the 21st century knowledge economy has been expanding globally, so have the Center's interests. This month, the Center on Aging & Work is announcing its Global Initiatives, a partnership with the Middlesex University Business School in London. The project aims to investigate the impact of aging trends on global talent management and workplace flexibility, while leveraging an academic-employer collaborative network spanning four continents. 

Partnering with Middlesex not only broadens the Center’s rich multidisciplinary team, engaging colleagues from Australia, Asia, North America, and throughout the European Union, it also broadens the Center’s research agenda.

Inside the US, cross-national research is still relatively minor, with what few comparative studies there are only rarely focusing on non-English speaking countries. Addressing this research gap is key to advancing both theoretical knowledge and our understanding of what is actually going on in contemporary organizations,asserts Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, the Center’s Associate Director for the Global Initiatives.

Of course, one reason for the current paucity of cross-national research is that it is among the most challenging to perform not the least because interpretations are confounded with national culture, supra-national policy (in the EU, for example), the culture of multi-national corporations, the experiences of groups of workers within various demographics, and, increasingly, globalization.

Yet, as Ollier-Malaterre explains, global research has the potential to question and diversify the current body of knowledge. The employee-employer relationship can only be fully and correctly understood in light of the national context of each country in addition to employees’ and employers’ backgrounds.

Increasingly,she continues, employers are sharing this point of view because employee engagement is absolutely key to profit-making and the bottom line in the knowledge economy. Productivity, creativity, problem solving, team interactions and work climate depend in part on the employee's engagement, good will and energy. Quality employment may not guarantee employee engagement, but in most cases it is a necessary condition.

For employers, the Center’s new Global Initiatives will result in highly contextualized research that will address their needs and questions globally, whether they are US multinationals operating in other countries or businesses from other nationalities.

The Center, though, has additional targets for its research apart from the private sector. It's not just employers who are interested in quality of employment,Flynn points out. As you go beyond the US, the state and "social partners" such as trade unions become more prominent in shaping employment conditions.Ultimately one of the long-term goals of the Center’s Global Initiatives is to engage policy-makers in seminars discussing approaches to recruiting and retaining talent.


about the center on aging & work

The Center on Aging & Work at Boston College was founded in 2005 with a multi-million dollar grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to partner with workplace decision makers in research on employer and employee responses to the increasingly global multigenerational workforce. These collaborations aim to inform employers with research data to attract, engage and retain high quality industry talent. As of 2008, three Institutes compose the Center the Workplace Flexibility Initiatives, the State Initiatives and the Global Initiatives. Their collective mission is to gather information and collaborate with leaders in the public, non-profit and business sectors in an effort to leverage today’s multi-generational workforce and globalization as competitive advantages in the 21st century economy.

about middlesex university

Middlesex is a global university committed to meeting the needs and ambitions of a culturally and internationally diverse range of students by providing challenging academic programs underpinned by innovative research, scholarship and professional practice. Middlesex University is based in London, and also has a campus in Dubai. For more information about Middlesex University, please visit