Managing the New Workforce
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Managing the New Workforce

International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation

Edited by Eddy S. Ng, Sean Lyons and Linda Schweitzer

Shifting demographics around the world have created a unique historical phenomenon in which a large cohort of employees (i.e., post-war Baby Boomers) are nearing retirement, and a new cadre of younger workers are being recruited to replace them. These twenty-something year-olds, often referred to as ‘Gen Y’ or Millennials, represent the workforce of the future and come with their own set of expectations, demands, and work habits. The contributors to this volume, drawn from countries around the world, document the cultural, historical, and social context surrounding this phenomenon. The international perspective makes it possible to examine cross-cultural similarities and differences in HRM practices. This timely book provides an understanding of the new workforce in multiple countries and settings and a valuable reference as scholars and employers seek to understand the values, beliefs, and expectations of the next generation of workers.
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Chapter 14: Perceptions of authority and leadership: a cross-national, cross-generational investigation

Jennifer J. Deal, Sarah Stawiski, Laura M. Graves, William A. Gentry, Marian Ruderman and Todd J. Weber


Common wisdom suggests that social, technological, political and economic events have led to unusually distinct cultural identities among the generations, and that these identities are going to cause substantial upheaval within companies as large cohorts of older employees retire and a new cadre of younger workers replaces them. As the younger generation has been entering the workplace, there is an emerging belief in organizations around the world that these workers are different from the older generations especially with regard to perceptions of authority relationships and beliefs about what makes a leader effective. In the context of this chapter, we define perceptions of authority relationships as the extent to which a respondent believes it is important to defer to authority figures.We also define beliefs about leadership as beliefs respondents hold regarding what leadership styles most contribute to effective leadership. While it has been established that there are differences among societal cultures with regard to perceptions of authority and beliefs about leadership (for example, House et al., 2004), how those differences are affected by generation has not yet been explored. Does generation affect perceptions of authority or of what makes an effective leader? Are those perceptions the same in different countries? This chapter addresses these questions by focusing on perceptions of authority and related beliefs about leadership as expressed by those generations currently in the workforce in four different countries (India, South Africa, the UK and the US).

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