University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business

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Understanding and managing intergenerational interactions: An examination of influences and strategies

Author(s): Michael Urick, Elaine Hollensbe, Suzanne Masterson, Sean Lyons

Status: Published
Year: 2017
Publication Name: Work, Aging, and Retirement
Volume: 3, Issue: 2, Page Number(s): 166-185


Abstract

Popular press and academic research articles commonly suggest that intergenerational differences in the workplace are a potential source of conflict. However, there has been little effort to examine the nature, causes, and reactions to such conflict empirically. We address this gap through a qualitative study of 2 generationally diverse samples. Our findings reveal tensions arising among generations (values-based, behavior-based, and identity-based) based on perceived differences and strategies used by generation members to manage them (achievement-oriented, image-oriented, and ego-oriented). In addition, we explore contextual factors (societal and work-related) that our samples mentioned as influencing their intergenerational perceptions. We present an emergent model that illustrates the dynamic interplay that occurs as perceived generational differences emerge and are addressed tactically. Our study contributes to the literature at the intersection of generations, diversity, and conflict through offering grounded propositions for future research, as well as practical implications.


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