Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 301–315 | Cite as

Generational Differences in Work Ethic: Fact or Fiction?

  • Keith L. ZabelEmail author
  • Benjamin B. J. Biermeier-Hanson
  • Boris B. Baltes
  • Becky J. Early
  • Agnieszka Shepard
Original Paper


Even though stereotypes suggest that older generational cohorts (e.g., Baby Boomers) endorse higher levels of work ethic than younger generations (e.g., Millennials), both the academic literature and popular press have found mixed evidence as to whether or not generational differences actually exist. To examine whether generational differences exist in work ethic, a dataset was compiled (k = 105) of all published studies that provided an average sample age and average work ethic score, with each sample becoming an observation, and being assigned a generational cohort based upon the average age of the sample. Three hierarchical multiple regressions found no effect of generational cohort on work ethic endorsement. In two of the three phases, results found a main effect of sample type, such that industry samples had higher work ethic endorsement than student samples. Implications for applied practitioners and future research streams for generational and work ethic research are discussed.


Work ethic Generational differences Twenty-first-century skills Aging 

Supplementary material

10869_2016_9466_MOESM1_ESM.docx (52 kb)
Electronic supplementary material 1 (DOCX 52 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith L. Zabel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Benjamin B. J. Biermeier-Hanson
    • 2
  • Boris B. Baltes
    • 1
  • Becky J. Early
    • 1
  • Agnieszka Shepard
    • 1
  1. 1.Wayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Radford UniversityRadfordUSA

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