University of Leicester
2023FrobisherGPhD.pdf (2.44 MB)

The 7th Decade Manager

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posted on 2023-05-11, 13:56 authored by Graham Frobisher

Existing gerontological literature tends to concentrate on older workers, using a broad cohort age range, and conflates the manager with non-manager. This risks overlooking critical matters that affect managers who are in their 7th decade (7DM). This thesis explores changes attributed to ageing and the work environment and includes aspects of personal life. An interpretative methodology was used to explore the experiences of 32 managers from 29 organisations in 10 different sectors. The constructs of age and work were used to frame the study with identity envisaged as a bridging concept between them.

The analysis shows the 7DM is experiencing change. Age is used dichotomously by the 7DM, identifying as subjectively younger yet openly acknowledging and accepting signs and symptoms of ageing. Temperamentally, the 7DM appeared more tolerant and kinder, yet can be impatient and outspoken. Work remains important, providing structure, sense of purpose and socialisation, however career progression is not. The 7DM exercises generativity to create a work-based legacy, and acts as a wise and trusted confidant who is sought out for guidance and counsel in work and personal matters.

The findings add to knowledge about the older manager by providing insight into the role of identity during periods of change. The research shows that identity features prominently for the 7DM, embedded and interwoven in all aspects of the constructs of age and work. The 7DM’s authenticity is informed by their age and identity, invoking experience, trust and integrity in all aspects of life. Identity work was used to try and reconcile conflicting positions, such as the liminality associated with impending cessation of work and the transition to non-work.



Jo Brewis; Deborah Price

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Business

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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