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Generational Differences in the Workplace

In: Business and Management

Submitted By cicero
Words 5105
Pages 21
Ambition, Altruism, Affiliation and Anxiety in the workplace:
A review of generational differences in work attitudes.
Madeleine Fogarty
Melbourne University

Abstract
Popular books and articles claim that there are significant differences between the generations in attitudes to work. However, there are relatively few empirical studies that support this claim. This review examines the reasons for the dearth of empirical work, reports on the US and Australasian findings published in the past decade, and suggests a taxonomy of ambition, altruism, affiliation and anxiety to synthesise the diversity of previous research and reach a coherent conclusion: all are on the rise for Gen Y. Directions for future research and recommendations for organisations are discussed.

News articles regularly demand that we pay attention to the different needs of the next generation and their attitudes towards work. Last week the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that “Generation Y . . . has high expectations of their employers, seek out new challenges, are not afraid to question authority, value teamwork, seek the affirmation of others, crave attention and want to be included and involved” (Zavos, 2010). Other stereotypes of Gen Y, including Myers & Sadaghiani (2010), pitch them as self-centred, unmotivated, disrespectful and disloyal. There have been many articles and books in “popular literature” that describe differences between the generations, including Strauss & Howe (1991), Howe, Strauss & Matson (2000), Lancaster & Stillman (2002), Trunk (2007) and O’Connell (2008). However, as both Giancola (2006) and Twenge & Campbell (2008) observe, few of these publications provide empirical data to back their claims. For example, Strauss and Howe (1991) make the unsubstantiated assertion that Gen Xers were more likely to be anxious or depressed because they were...

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