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Workers More Willing to Accept Incompetent Bosses Who Are Older

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stressed worker rubbing her eyes with her hands

Status incongruence led to perceptions of greater promotion system unfairness.

Workers are more willing to accept an incompetent boss who is older and more experienced than themselves, but less likely to accept incompetence if the boss is younger and less experienced, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The study is based on a survey of hundreds of professional workers in the United States and China. Workers who think their younger, less experienced boss is incompetent start to question the fairness of their employer's promotion system, which affects a worker's behavior, morale, and productivity, the study says.

Workers who justify an employer's unfair promotion system are likely avoiding the psychological discomfort of acknowledging an unfair system, says study co-author Michele Williams, an associate professor at the University of Iowa.

This rationalization is to their own long-term disadvantage. A better move may be to "seek alternative employment opportunities," Williams says.

From University of Iowa
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