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Comparing the levels of individualism/collectivism between baby boomers and generation X: Implications for teamwork

Danilo Sirias (Department of Management and Marketing, Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, Missouri, USA)
H.B. Karp (Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, USA)
Timothy Brotherton (Department of Management and Marketing, Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, Missouri, USA)

Management Research News

ISSN: 0140-9174

Article publication date: 18 September 2007

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to examine the attitudes of the largest groups in today's workforce, the baby boomers (born between 1945 and 1962) and generation X (born between 1963 and 1982) on team formation. The study measures individualism‐collectivism levels on five dimensions in both groups.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on survey research (n=434), data were analyzed using factor analyses (extraction and rotation choices) consistent with previous research.

Findings

The findings demonstrate that an updated paradigm for team‐building needs to be developed that encourages individual identity and personal values as well as those of the group.

Research limitations/implications

The authors did not examine all of the potential social and cultural influences on team behaviour (e.g. nationality, ethnicity or religious influences). Future research should attempt to either measure or control for more of these variables.

Practical implications

Past management paradigms on team formation must be adapted to current managerial needs. The “melting‐pot” analogy, where individual team members completely subordinate themselves to the needs of the team, is obsolete. A more appropriate analogy would be the “salad bowl”, where individuals work together, yet do not have to give up their individuality. This paradigm might pose new challenges in its implementation, but the greater acceptance of diversity can, paradoxically, foster a greater level of authentic team spirit.

Originality/value

This research examines the generational effects on teamwork within a changing workforce. Managers directly involved with team formation and maintenance are likely to be those who benefit most from this research. However, everyone involved in a team‐based environment should find it useful.

Keywords

Citation

Sirias, D., Karp, H.B. and Brotherton, T. (2007), "Comparing the levels of individualism/collectivism between baby boomers and generation X: Implications for teamwork", Management Research News, Vol. 30 No. 10, pp. 749-761. https://doi.org/10.1108/01409170710823467

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited