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Generational differences in work values, outcomes and person‐organisation values fit

Lucy Cennamo (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy – Perfumes and Cosmetics, London, UK)
Dianne Gardner (School of Psychology, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 7 November 2008



The purpose of this paper is to investigate differences between three generational groups currently in the workforce (Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y), in work values, job satisfaction, affective organisational commitment and intentions to leave. The study also seeks to examine generational differences in person‐organisation values fit.


A total of 504 Auckland employees representing a range of industries completed an online questionnaire. Generation X (57 per cent) was defined as those born between 1962‐1979, Baby Boomers (23 per cent) were born 1946‐1961 and Generation Y (17 per cent) were born 1980‐2000. The remainder (3 per cent) were born 1925‐1945.


The youngest groups placed more importance on status and freedom work values than the oldest group. Baby Boomers reported better person‐organisation values fit with extrinsic values and status values than Generation X and Generation Y but there were no other generational differences in fit. Where individual and organisational values showed poor fit there were reduced job satisfaction and organisational commitment, and increased intentions to turnover across all three generational groups.

Research limitations/implications

The study was cross‐sectional and based on self‐report data, limiting the generalisability of findings.

Practical implications

Values are important in guiding behaviour and enhancing work motivation. Organisational values must be able to meet the needs of different employees, and organisations need to clarify their work values and expectations with staff.


The paper presents evidence that person‐organisation values fit is important for all generational groups and popular notions about generational differences should not be over‐generalised.



Cennamo, L. and Gardner, D. (2008), "Generational differences in work values, outcomes and person‐organisation values fit", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 23 No. 8, pp. 891-906.



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