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Generational Diversity and the Conflict of Interpretation
Linnaeus University, School of Business and Economics, Department of Organisation and Entrepreneurship.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

During the last years, diversity has been a hot topic for both researchers and professionals. In global markets with an increased competition, appropriate management of diversity within an organization might be highly relevant for the success of a company. One kind of diversity is the differences in ages of an organization’s workforce. Today, up to four different generations, each with different characteristics, attitudes, and peculiarities, work together at the workplace. To ensure fruitful, productive, and effective collaboration, cooperation, and cohabitation, leaders are often responsible to manage intergenerational encounters and to delegate tasks in an appropriate way. In fact, leaders and subordinates of different ages and generations have always had to collaborate in organizations. However, especially in today’s times of rising market pressure, increasing complexity and with various increased demands on organizations, a deeper understanding of how leaders might be able to effectively lead their followers and subordinates is of a high value for themselves and organizations.The purpose of this Thesis is it to examine how leaders should behave in intergenerational encounters, i.e. how they should act and communicate to their followers and subordinates of different ages in a way that makes sense to the latter.Within this Thesis, the methodological approach of Grounded Theory is applied. For this purpose, a qualitative research was conducted in which qualitative data was gathered through an examination of the existing literature about leadership, diversity in organizations, and generations. Additionally, eight interviews with leaders, coaches, and professionals from human resource development departments in organizations were conducted. By analyzing those interviews and combining the findings with data from the existing literature, a concept of A Leader’s Generational Intelligence emerged. This concept is composed of the categories Appropriate Behavior Regarding Other Generations, Open Mental Attitude, and Knowledge and Experience. It is assumed that if leaders possess these three elements, they might be able to perform more effectively in intergenerational encounters and might succeed in their attempts to make sense regarding their followers of different ages.The findings of this Thesis may contribute to the discussion about how to appropriately and effectively manage diversity, especially when it comes to generational diversity. For this reason, the outcome of this Thesis might be valuable for future research but also for leaders and professionals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 91 p.
Keyword [en]
Diversity, Generation, Leadership, Sensemaking
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-43643OAI: diva2:816870
Subject / course
Business Administration - Organization Leadership
Educational program
Leadership and Management in International Context, Master Programme, 60 credits
2015-05-21, Ny204, Kalmar Nyckel, Gröndalsvägen 19, Kalmar, 14:32 (English)
Available from: 2015-06-11 Created: 2015-06-04 Last updated: 2015-06-11Bibliographically approved

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Mittermayer, Andreas
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