Networked Information Technology and the Transition to Retirement

A Field Experiment

by Tora K. Bikson, Jacqueline D. Goodchilds, L. Huddy, John D. Eveland, Steve Schneider

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This report explores retirement as a social-psychological process, particularly from the perspectives of role incumbents on either side of the transition. It also considers whether and how networked information and communication technology helps to create or maintain task processes and social ties for spatially distributed groups, and attempts to determine what part such technology might play in supporting interactions among retired individuals and between them and their still-employed peers. It extends earlier studies of technology transfer and utilization, of social behavior in relatively healthy community-resident older adults, and of the effects of computer support in varied kinds of task groups by using a more powerful research design — a field experiment — that permits an evaluation of the comparative capability of new electronic media to provide intellectual and affective links between people who have no prior experience in using networked interactive systems. The experiment demonstrates that computers can serve as an effective infrastructure for social interchange; they are superior to traditional media for overcoming spatial and temporal barriers to interaction.

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