...the fad of "generational differences" is the worst kind of pseudoscience. To say it is poorly reseached is to imply it is researched at all. It relies on accepting the sorts of pop-culture stereotypes normally found in Parade magazine, and making sweeping assertions based on anecdotes and stereotypes.
Here's a typical example: "...not only do members of Generation Y look different, with their body piercings, tattoos, and electronic decorations, they behave and think differently as well." Really? All of them? Most of them? What percentage? Is there a difference if you only have piercings and "electronic decorations," and didn't go for a tattoo? What about those that have none of these? (Do the thinking and behaviors rub off onto them?) These are just a few examples of the kind of questions that actual researchers would ask, and them from there begin to draw conclusions.
The "generational differences" field does the opposite - it begins with the assumption that the premise is correct, and interprets anecdotes and polls to support it.
It makes tenuous connections for which there is little evidentiary support. I read one typical example which purported that the generation who watched "Damien" at the movies learned to distrust children, while the generation that saw "Look Who's Talking" were supposed to have a strong affinity for children. Again, what percentage saw these movies? What were their attitudes before seeing the movie? How many reported a change in attitude afterward? What about those who didn't see the movie - what are their attitudes? (Does it just rub off?) If the premise even made enough sense to bother researching - which it doesn't - where's the actual research leading to such conclusions? Across the field, it largely does not exist.
To further illustrate the point, consider the "boomers": Which set of "generational" values characterizes the "boomers": protesting racial discrimination at lunch counters, or beating up the protesters? Are Democrats or Tea Partiers the real "boomers"? Bill Clinton or George Bush? Barak Obama or John Boehner?
Yet, read the stereotypes applied to boomers by a writer in this "field": extremely hard working; motivated by position, perks and prestige; relish long work weeks; define themselves by professional accomplishment; workaholic generation; confident, independent, and self-reliant; will not hesitate to challenge established practices; goal-oriented; dedicated and career-focused; equate work and position with self-worth; clever, resourceful and strive to win; believe in hierarchal structure and "rankism;" hard time adjusting to workplace flexibility trends; fault younger generations for working remotely. This may be a valid description of some individuals in any generation - but an accurate characterization of an entire generation, and one on which we should base HR practices in the workplace?
Five minutes of reflective thought on descriptions such as these shows the shallowness and valuelessness of this "field." An actual and more accurate study might look at how, DESPITE shared generational experience, people have quite different and often opposing values in many areas of life, because there are so many other factors that play a much more important role in determining those than the accident of the time in which you are born.
I know this silliness is very much in vogue, but it is without foundation. The idea that HR departments are going to make any personnel management decisions based on these stereotypes is disturbing. The pretense to representing important insights for managing the "multi-generational work place" serves only to give the appearance of legitimacy to prejudices and pigeon-holing. It is astrology without the stars. One day, it will join phrenology and palmistry on that long list of obvious nonsense that even "thinking" human beings swallow without a critical second thought.
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