Master's Theses

Date of Award

Spring 2002

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Communication Studies

Advisor

Carol Haggard

Abstract

The American culture has entered a widely proclaimed "new age" experiencing some of the most profound changes in our economy, society, and culture since the Industrial Revolution. Generational issues are valuable indicators of the critical business concerns nearly all organizations are experiencing as the transition from the workplace of the past to that of the future evolves. This study focused on two specific generations, which account for the majority of the workforce today: the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. The Baby Boomers are the group of individuals born between 1946 and 1964 and Generation Xers are the group of Individuals born between approximately 1965 and 1983. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate an instrument to assess generational viewpoints within the workplace. Such an instrument can be used to aid in bridging the generational gap and provide ideas for motivating and training these different perspectives to make them more profitable and successful. By researching the employees and the environment of an organization with differing generations, the study will help identify both problem areas and strengths between the two groups. Development of the instrument began with a literature review, a pilot study (N = 50), and an instrument verification (N = 101). This process resulted in the use of four subscales (communication skills in management practices, motivational factors, leadership, and corporate culture) to be evaluated within the scale. Two research questions were postulated: (1) Can a scale be developed to determine generational viewpoints? (2) Does this scale demonstrate that there are differences in viewpoints among the two generations? A survey developed by the researcher was used for the measurement. A pilot study was conducted to test the reliability of the questionnaire and then commonalities were found to provide direction and narrow down the final questionnaire. The study utilized data collected from a sample at a mid-sized, Midwestern hospital. Employees were asked to complete a 32 item questionnaire using a Liken-type scale: 101 questionnaires were distributed. A series of factor analyses were performed. Based on a series of factor analyses that produced similar factor loadings and variance explained, it was concluded that the 32-item survey is a valid and reliable instrument. The second research question was answered when the researcher submitted all various items to Chi-Square analysis indicating that there were two statistically significant differences between the two generational viewpoints. The first difference was the importance of receiving recognition within the workplace and the second was the importance of having responsibilities within the workplace. The overall pattern of results observed in the study is inconsistent with previous research. Although the pattern of results observed in the study is inconsistent with previous research the study contributed quantitative research into the generational studies, this study laid an important foundation to a significant area of research today and therefore, it justifies further research. Implications for the findings in the study arc discussed.

Rights

Copyright 2002 Clarine M. Jacobs

Comments

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