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A generational explanation for surges in managerial rhetorics

Chris Papenhausen (University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 13 September 2011




Previous research has shown that eras of managerial rhetorics have alternated between normative and rational ideologies. The purpose of this study is to test the influence of generational membership on this phenomenon.


Examining data for the past 130 years, eras of managerial rhetorics are matched with recurring generational archetypes.


Empirical evidence is analyzed and found to be generally supportive of the hypotheses: generational membership is associated with the timing of the alternation in managerial rhetorics.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of association suggest generational change could be a causal driver of long‐term change in managerial rhetorics.

Practical implications

The model tested implies a predictive ability to anticipate the movement from the current normative rhetoric to a new rational rhetoric in the near future.


This study is the first to find evidence that the alternation between rational and normative managerial rhetorics is related to generational effects.



Papenhausen, C. (2011), "A generational explanation for surges in managerial rhetorics", Management Research Review, Vol. 34 No. 10, pp. 1078-1086.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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