Generations at work: are there differences and do they matter?

John Benson, Michelle Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, there has been, particularly among human resource management practitioners, a view that important inter-generational differences exist among workers and that these differences provide challenges to managers in effectively managing their workforce. While such views have been challenged, academic research into inter-generational differences and its effects has been limited. Our paper seeks to fill this vacuum by addressing the question as to whether there are differences between generations in their orientations and attitudes to work. This paper explores the differences in job satisfaction, organizational commitment and the willingness to quit of two groups of workers; the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Using a large-scale survey of employees of a large public sector research organization, we find that the Boomers do have higher job satisfaction and a lower willingness to quit than their Generation X colleagues. We also find that there are some important differences in the antecedents of these variables between the two groups. This paper concludes by considering the implications of the findings for management practice and theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1843-1865
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Baby boomers (boomers)
  • Generation x (genxers)
  • Generational differences
  • Job satisfaction
  • Organizational commitment
  • Willingness to quit

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