Differences in resistance to change between generations in the workplace

by Stanley-Garvey, Heather L., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2007, 115 pages; 3277641


Generational diversity and interaction in the workplace today have the potential to foster creativity and diverse thought, which can benefit an organization's bottom line. On the other hand, generational differences can also cause misunderstandings and confusion, creating tension and conflict between team members. The purpose of this study was to determine if differences existed between the four generations in the workplace—Silents, Baby Boomer, Gen Xers, and Millennials—specifically in terms of resistance to change.

A quantitative, descriptive approach was used in order to provide empirical support for the claim that members of some generations are more adept at change than others. Based on the theory that each generation has its own personality (or disposition), a four-facet structure to the disposition of resistance to change, developed by Oreg (2003), was used to provide the framework for this study. The four facets to the disposition of resistance to change are routine seeking, emotional reaction to imposed change, short-term focus, and cognitive rigidity.

Data was collected from two participating organizations through an online version of the resistance to change scale developed by Oreg (2003) and was analyzed using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Bonferroni procedure. Contrary to the hypothesis that differences do exist, the results of the study showed no overall significant difference between generations on the disposition of resistance to change, although significant differences were found between Baby Boomers and two other generations on four specific survey questions. Ideas about why no differences were found between generations are presented in Chapter 5. In addition, some rationale is provided for why some significant differences between Baby Boomers and two of the other generational groups were found on the four data points.

AdviserRobert J. Hockin
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3277641

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