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Generational Differences in the Workplace: A Meta-Analysis

23 July 2018


Many popular press articles claim that differences among generations impact key organizational outcomes in the workplace. However, there is little consensus among researchers on whether these differences actual exist. Thus, a meta-analysis was conducted to quantitatively assess the research on generational differences on several work-related outcomes. Electronic databases and journals were searched from primary studies assessing generational differences in the workplace on job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and work centrality, in addition to other inclusion/exclusion criteria. Data from 19 primary studies were collected using a coding manual in order to obtain study descriptors as well as effect size (ES) information. Initial ES adjustments include correcting for small sample bias and computing the inverse variance weight. Additionally, the ES distribution was assessed for outliers, and a homogeneity analysis was conducted using the Q statistic. A random effects model was used when testing for the significant of the average effect when comparing each generational cohort on either job satisfaction, organizational commitment, or work centrality. Mean differences for job satisfaction ranged from .08 to .14, but only one comparison (Boomers vs. Millennials) was significant. Next, mean difference for organizational commitment ranged from .03 to .10, however the results for each comparison were not significant. Lastly, mean differences for work centrality ranged from .11 to .33, though the results for each comparison were found to be not significant. The pattern of results indicates that the relationship between generational membership and work outcomes are moderate to small, and findings suggests that meaningful differences might not exists on work outcomes examined in this study.


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