“Research…shows that the differences between individuals…almost always exceed those between [demographic] groups. This widely accepted demographic fact blows the lid off of any kind of generalization or short cut to managing someone different than ourselves.”   Managing Cultural Diversity - The Wendii Curve (01 Feb 2010)

I agree and want to dissuade others who want to waste time with training on generational differences.  

Who has some data on this they are willing to share? 


wendii_badUser's picture


We're currently working on a podcast which gives more detail around the data for the Wendii Curve.  Much of the research focuses on the average in a group, and not the range of answers, which is what you're looking for.

In the meantime, this article may be of help to you:

Gert Hofstede did the first big research project on national cultures in the early 80s.  The article talks about many of the defects of applying generalizations about large groups of people to individuals.  Whilst it's not about age, it can be assumed to apply to people grouped by age.  

He also says: In the 1970s this author – more or less by accident – got access to a large survey database about values and related sentiments of people in over 50 countries around the world (Hofstede, 1980). These people worked in the local subsidiaries of one large multinational corporation: IBM. Most parts of the organization had been surveyed twice over a four-year interval, and the database contained more than 100,000 questionnaires. Initial analyses of the database at the level of individual respondents proved confusing, but a breakthrough occurred when the focus was directed at correlations between mean scores of survey items at the level of countries. Patterns of correlation at the country level could be strikingly different from what was found at the individual level, and needed an entirely different interpretation. One of the weaknesses of much cross-cultural research is not recognizing the difference between analysis at the societal level and at the individual level; this amounts to confusing anthropology and psychology. From 180 studies using my work reviewed by Kirkman, Lowe, and Gibson (2006), more than half failed to distinguish between societal culture level and individual level differences, which led to numerous errors of interpretation and application.   ( - Emphasis mine)

This research is about generations and does find some differences between them: file:///Users/wendii/Downloads/Full%20Text.pdf  

Generation accounted for 1.9% of the variance in satisfaction with career development and advancement, 1.1% of the variance in overall company and job satisfaction, 1.5% of the variance in satisfaction with recognition, 1.4% of the variance in job security, 0.08% of the variance in turnover intentions 0.06% of the variance in satisfaction with the work itself, and 0.03% of the variance in satisfaction with pay and benefit.

If you can manage according to a 1.9% difference in attitude to satisfaction with career development, controlling for age and period, go for it!  You're a better man than I.  (Remember, it's one study of 113,000, all in the US, all in full time work, and all in organizations over 100 people.  Not a diverse sample at all). 

I hope that helps your argument :-)