Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Generationally Based Differences in the Workplace: Is There a There There?

  • David P. Costanza (a1) and Lisa M. Finkelstein (a2)
Abstract

Stereotypes about generational differences in the workplace abound, and interventions for helping organizations and managers to deal with these supposed differences are increasing. In addition to popular press articles describing the differences and extolling the practices and strategies to deal with them, there are a growing number of researchers who are attempting to establish that there are such differences. Overall, however, there is little solid empirical evidence supporting generationally based differences and almost no theory behind why such differences should even exist. The purposes of this focal article are to explore the myths surrounding generations, to review the risks in using generations in organizational decisions, and to make recommendations for practitioners and researchers on how to proceed in this area.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Generationally Based Differences in the Workplace: Is There a There There?
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Generationally Based Differences in the Workplace: Is There a There There?
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Generationally Based Differences in the Workplace: Is There a There There?
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to David P. Costanza, Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication, The George Washington University, 600 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20052. E-mail: dcostanz@gwu.edu
References
Hide All
Badger, J. M., Costanza, D. P., Blacksmith, N., & Severt, J. B. (2014). The role of shared experiences in generational differences: Putting generations theory to the test. Unpublished manuscript.
Baron, R. A., & Branscombe, N. R. (2013). Social psychology (13th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Bodenhausen, G. V., & Hugenberg, K. (2009). Attention, perception, and social cognition. In Strack, F. & Forster, J. (Eds.), Social cognition: The basis of human interaction (pp. 122). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
Bors, M. (2013, July 9). The generation we love to dump on. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/09/opinion/bors-millenial-comic-strip/index.html
Costanza, D. P., Fraser, R. L., Badger, J. M., Severt, J. B., & Gade, P. A. (2012). Generational differences in work-related variables: A meta-analysis. Journal of Business Psychology, 27, 375394. doi:10.1007/s10869-012-9259-4
D’Amato, A., & Herzfeldt, R. (2008). Learning orientation, organizational commitment and talent retention across generations: A study of European managers. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23, 929953. doi:10.1108/02683940810904402
Elder, G. H. Jr. (1994). Time, human agency, and social change: Perspectives on the life course. Social Psychology Quarterly, 57, 415.
Elder, G. H. Jr. (1998). The life course as developmental theory. Child Development, 69, 112. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1998.tb06128.x
Fiske, S. T. (2004). Social beings: A core motives approach to social psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Giancola, F. (2006). The generation gap: More myth than reality. Human Resource Planning, 29 (4), 3237.
Jorgensen, B. (2003). Baby boomers, generation X and generation Y? Policy implications for defence forces in the modern era. Foresight, 5 (4), 4149.
Kacmar, K. M., & Ferris, G. R. (1989). Theoretical and methodological considerations in the age-job satisfaction relationship. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 201207. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.74.2.201
Kowske, B. J., Rasch, R., & Wiley, J. (2010). Millennials’ (lack of) attitude problem: An empirical examination of generational effects on work attitudes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25, 265279.
Kupperschmidt, B. R. (2000). Multigeneration employees: Strategies for effective management. The Health Care Manager, 19, 6576.
Macky, K., Gardner, D., & Forsyth, S. (2008). Generational differences at work: Introduction and overview. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23, 857861. doi:10.1108/02683940810904358
Meyer, J. P., Stanley, D. J., Herscovitch, L., & Topolnytsky, L. (2002). Affective, continuance, and normative commitment to the organization: A meta-analysis of antecedents, correlates, and consequences. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 61, 2052. doi:10.1006/jvbe.2001.1842
Ng, T. W. H., & Feldman, D. C. (2008). The relationship of age to ten dimensions of job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 392422. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.93.2.392
Ng, T. W. H., & Feldman, D. C. (2009). Re-examining the relationship between age and voluntary turnover. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74, 283294. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2009.01.004
Ng, T. W. H., & Feldman, D. C. (2010). The relationships of age with job attitudes: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 63, 677718. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2010.01184.x
Park, B., Wolsko, C., & Judd, C. M. (2001). Measurement of subtyping in stereotype change. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 325332.
Parry, E., & Urwin, P. (2010). Generational differences in work values: A review of theory and evidence. International Journal of Management Reviews, 13, 7996. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2370.2010.00285.x
Queller, S., & Smith, E. R. (2002). Subtyping versus bookkeeping in stereotype learning and change: Connectionist simulations and empirical findings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 300313.
Rhodes, S. R. (1983). Age-related differences in work attitudes and behavior: A review and conceptual analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 93, 328367.
Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E., & Veichtbauer, W. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 125. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.132.1.1
Sackett, P. R. (2002, March 5). Letter report. Washington, DC: The National Academies, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.
Sanders, L. H. (1943, July). Eleven tips on getting more efficiency out of women employees. Mass Transportation, 233.
Shapira, I. (2009, July 9). Business coach Anne Loehr tries to bridge diverse generations: X, Y, baby boomer. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/08/AR2009070803986.html
Smola, K. W., & Sutton, C. D. (2002). Generational differences: Revisiting generational work values for the new millennium. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 363382. doi:10.1002/job.147
Stein, J., & Sanburn, J. (2013, May 20). The new greatest generation. Time. http://nation.time.com/2013/05/09/millennials-the-next-greatest-generation/
Strauss, W., & Howe, N. (1991). Generations: The history of America's future, 1584 to 2069. New York, NY: William Morrow.
Trzesniewski, K. H., & Donnellan, M. B. (2010). Rethinking “generation me”: A study of cohort effects from 1976–2006. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5 (1), 5875. doi:10.1177/1745691609356789
Twenge, J. M. (2000). The age of anxiety? Birth cohort change in anxiety and neuroticism, 1952–1993. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 10071021. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.79.6.1007
Twenge, J. M., Campbell, S. M., Hoffman, B. J., & Lance, C. E. (2010). Generational differences in work values: Leisure and extrinsic values increasing, social and intrinsic values decreasing. Journal of Management, 36, 11171142. doi:10.1177/0149206309352246
Twenge, J. M., Konrath, S., Foster, J. D., Campbell, W. K., & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Egos inflating over time: A cross-temporal meta-analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. Journal of Personality, 76, 875902. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2008.00507.x
Wax, E. (2013, July 28). After the whistle: Revealers of government secrets share how their lives have changed. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/after-the-whistle-revealers-of-government-secrets-share-how-their-lives-have-changed/2013/07/28/23d82596-f613-11e2-9434-60440856fadf_story.html
Yang, Y. (2008). Age, period, cohort effects. In Carr, D. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the life course and human development (Vol. 3, pp. 610). Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA.
Yang, Y., & Land, K. C. (2006). A mixed models approach to the age-period-cohort analysis of repeated cross-section surveys, with an application to data on trends in verbal test scores. Sociological Methodology, 36, 7597. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9531.2006.00175.x
Zaslow, J. (2007, April 20). The most-praised generation goes to work. The Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB117702894815776259
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • ISSN: 1754-9426
  • EISSN: 1754-9434
  • URL: /core/journals/industrial-and-organizational-psychology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed