Generation Y’s Ethical Ideology and Its Potential Workplace Implications
- First Online:
- 4.3k Downloads
Generation Y is a cohort of the population larger than the baby boom generation. Consisting of approximately 80 million people born between 1981 and 2000, Generation Y is the most recent cohort to enter the workforce. Workplaces are being redefined and organizations are being pressed to adapt as this new wave of workers is infused into business environments. One critical aspect of this phenomenon not receiving sufficient research attention is the impact of Gen Y ethical beliefs and ethical conduct in workplace contexts. It is widely accepted that distinct generational experiences shape ethical ideologies and ethical ideologies in turn affect the way people function in the workplace. Thus, Gen Y’s unique cohort experiences are likely to shape their ethical ideologies and consequent workplace judgments and actions. In this article, we examine Gen Y’s ethical ideology and study its impact on workplace functioning regarding leadership style, teamwork, and judgments about ethical violations. Our analyses indicate that Gen Y’ers tend toward situationalism (high idealism and high relativism), and their socially connected orientation produces more lenient judgments of collaborative vs. unilateral ethical violations. However, Gen Y’ers do exhibit individual variation. Relativist Gen Y’ers are more tolerant of ethical violations, whereas, Gen Y Idealists are less tolerant of ethical violations. High Idealists also show stronger teamwork and leadership characteristics. In addition, Gen Y’ers possessing servant leader traits exhibit incrementally better teamwork, and greater perceived unacceptability of ethical violations. We conclude by discussing implications of these findings for managing ethical climates and conduct.
KeywordsGeneration Y Ethical ideology Workplace implications Teamwork Servant leadership Ethical violations
- Brown, B. S., & Choong, P. (2003). Identifying the salient dimensions of student cheating and their key determinants in a private university. Journal of Business and Economics Research, 1(3), 75–83.Google Scholar
- Curtin, P. A., Gallicano, T., & Matthews, K. (2011). Millennials’ approaches to ethical decision making: A survey of young public relations agency employees. Public Relations Journal, 5(2), 1–22.Google Scholar
- Ethics Resource Center. (2009). Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers: Who’s working at your company and what do they think about ethics? http://ethics.org/files/u5/Gen-Diff.pdf. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
- Forbes. (2011). Move over baby boomers! The millennial generation has occupied wall street. http://www.forbes.com/sites/daveserchuk/2011/10/13/the-millennial-generation-has-occupied-wall-street/. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- Gorman, P., Nelson, T., & Glassman, A. (2004). The millenial generation: A strategic opportunity. Organization Analysis, 12(3), 255–270.Google Scholar
- Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York: Paulist Press.Google Scholar
- Hair, J. F., Jr, Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., & Anderson, R. E. (2010). Multivariate data analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (1991). Generations: The history of America’s future, 1584 to 2069. New York: William Morrow & Company.Google Scholar
- Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2000). Millenials rising: The next great generation. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
- Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2003). Millennials go to college. Washington, DC: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.Google Scholar
- Luthy, M. R., Padgett, B. L., & Toner, J. F. (2009). In the beginning: Ethical perspectives of business and non-business college freshman. Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, 12(2), 85–101.Google Scholar
- Morgan, C. N., & Ribbens, B. A. (2006). Generational differences in the workplace. Proceedings of the Midwest Academy of Management USA, 49. http://www.midwestacademy.org/Proceedings/2006/papers/paper14.pdf. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- Page, D., & Wong, T. P. (2000). A conceptual framework for measuring servant leadership. In S. Abjibolosoo (Ed.), The human factor in shaping the course of history and development. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
- Parolini, J. L. (2004). Effective servant leadership: A model incorporating servant leadership and the competing values framework. In Servant leadership research roundtable. Regent University. August.Google Scholar
- Patterson, K. A. (2003). Servant leadership: A theoretical model. Dissertation. Abstracts International (UMI No. AAT 3082719).Google Scholar
- Rawwas, M. Y. A., & Singhapakdi, A. (1998). Do consumers’ ethical beliefs vary with age? A substantiation of Kohlberg’s typology in marketing. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 6(2), 26–38.Google Scholar
- Russell, R. F., & Stone, A. G. (2002). A review of servant leadership attributes: Developing a practical model. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 33, 145–157.Google Scholar
- Sendjaya, S. (2003). Development and validation of servant leadership behavior scale. In Servant leadership roundtable. October.Google Scholar
- Sivadas, E., Kleiser, S. B., Kellaris, J., & Dahlstrom, R. (2003). Moral philosophy, ethical evaluations and sales manager hiring intentions. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 23(1), 7–21.Google Scholar
- Tansey, R., Brown, G., Hyman, M. R., & Dawson, L. E, Jr. (1994). Personal moral philosophies and the moral judgments of salespeople. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 14(1), 59–75.Google Scholar
- Tolbize, A. (2008).Generational differences in the workplace. Minneapolis, MN: Research and Training Center on Community Living, University of Minnesota. http://rtc.umn.edu/docs/2_18_Gen_diff_workplace.pdf. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
- Tyler, K. (2007). The tethered generation. Society for Human Resource Management Magazine, 52(5), 1–6.Google Scholar
- Williams, S., Beard, J., & Tanner, M. (2011). Coping with millennials on campus. BizEd, 10(4), 42–49.Google Scholar
- Wong, P. T. P., & Page, D. (2003). An opponent process model and the revised servant leadership profile. In Servant leadership research roundtable. Regent University, School of Leadership Studies. August.Google Scholar
- World of Work Survey. (2008). The Randstad USA world of work. http://us.randstad.com/content/aboutrandstad/knowledge-center/employer-resources/World-of-Work-2008.pdf. Retrieved 2 October 2010.