Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Team member perspectives on individualism-collectivism: Generational differences and their perceived impact on teams
by Armstrong, Norma Bullock, Ph.D., Capella University, 2010, 111; 3427231
Abstract (Summary)

Intergenerational conflict between Baby Boomers and Generation Xers is increasingly being described by business leaders, workers, educators and trainers, and the popular press as a significant problem in the workplace. Negative perceptions fuel this discord, as workers experience members of the other cohort, or generational group, as different from themselves. Of particular concern is the performance of work teams composed of age-diverse members due to their increasing importance in successfully implementing innovative, integrative approaches to address the challenges of the global business environment. Quantitative research exploring differences in personal perspective regarding individualism-collectivism has demonstrated significant differences, with Boomers being more collectivistic, and Xers being more individualistic. However, the link between these differences on intergenerational teams and intra-team conflict, team performance, and personal satisfaction for team members has been largely unexplored. This qualitative research study enlisted the support, through personal interviews, of four Boomers and four Xers who have served on work teams in examining the impact of these differences. The primary differences were described as seeing the big picture (Boomers) versus more of a personal focus; seeking more external praise (Xers) versus personal gratification; a propensity for meetings (Boomers) versus independent work; a willingness to work above and beyond expectations (Boomers) or not, and differing communication skills and styles. Coaching, modeling, and public recognition of teamwork skills for the more individualistic members were identified as successful strategies to reduce conflict. Three participants specifically mentioned the value of individualistic team members being motivated by their personal gains on teams. Many had seen these strategies used by skillful team leaders or managers. Although no one had training that focused on generational diversity, several had been exposed to the idea of age diversity in the workforce. Previous research on these topics fully supported these findings. Interestingly, the interviewees seemed more comfortable attributing these differences directly to preferences for individualism or collectivism, recognizing that these preferences can differ in team members from any generational group. There was also full support for team members remaining individualistic, and keeping their diverse perspective, while learning the rules and the skills to behave more collectivistically.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Secrest, Wayland
Commitee: DiMatteo-Gibson, Donna, Pimpinelli, Angelo
School: Capella University
Department: School of Psychology
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-B 71/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Social psychology, Occupational psychology
Keywords: Baby Boomers, Collectivism, Generation X, Individualism, Intergenerational, Teams
Publication Number: 3427231
ISBN: 9781124309798
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