Train to retain: Training opportunities, positive reciprocity, and expected retirement age

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This article contributes to research on older workers' sustainable employment by investigating the relation between training and expected retirement age. Past research has produced inconsistent findings, partly because studies rarely distinguish between the effects of training opportunities and actual training participation. To address this limitation, we examine the incremental effect of training opportunities over and above actual training participation. Grounded in social exchange theory, we argue that the effect of training opportunities on expected retirement age depends on employees' positive reciprocity orientation. Using matched employer–employee data (880 employees matched to 284 employers) our findings show that training opportunities associate with expected retirement age over and above employees' actual training participation, but only for employees with strong positive reciprocity beliefs. Moreover, a supplementary analysis showed that the strengthening effect of positive reciprocity only holds for organizations that are financially healthy. These findings are consistent with the idea that positive reciprocators will only avoid early retirement as a response to training opportunities when it is seen as a credible gesture to facilitate employees' future employability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103332
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jul 2019


  • older workers
  • sustainable careers
  • retirement
  • social exchange
  • training opportunities

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