Age diversity and learning outcomes in organizational training groups: the role of knowledge sharing and psychological safety
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This study advances theorizing on human resource development by conceptualizing a training group’s age diversity composition as an antecedent of participants’ learning outcomes in organizational training courses. Drawing from social identity theory, we propose that a high age diversity of the training group can inhibit participants’ learning outcomes because individuals are less likely to share knowledge than in age-homogenous groups. Furthermore, we expect that psychological safety serves as a buffer, such that participants who perceive a high level of psychological safety in a training group will engage in knowledge sharing and consequently report high learning outcomes, regardless of the training group’s age diversity composition. We tested the proposed moderated mediation model in a sample of 211 employees participating in an interactive oneday training at an automobile manufacturer. We found that perceived age diversity, but not objective age diversity, was negatively linked to participants’ learning outcomes and that this relationship was mediated by knowledge sharing. Participants’ perceptions of psychological safety served as a buffer against the negative effect of perceived age diversity. We discuss implications for the conceptual understanding of learning as an active process shaped by the training group and encourage scholars to broaden their understanding of training design elements.
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