Despite a rich tradition of scholarship across many disciplines, organizational research on the topic of generations has been relatively scarce. In this article we develop a framework for studying generations in organizations that draws on multiple conceptualizations across multiple disciplines. Our framework distills two distinct critical elements that give 'generations' agency in organizational settings - chronology (the idea that a unique location in time creates a 'generation') and genealogy (the idea that generations are linked through the transmission/descent of ideas/values/skills/knowledge). After an historic overview of the evolution of the topic of generations, we review generational research across the fields of political sociology, family sociology, psychology, social anthropology, cultural sociology, demography, and gerontology. Our framework elucidates how linkages between generations, based on chronology and genealogy, can be characterized in organizations and how the nature of intergenerational contact and transfer predicts a wide range of organizational outcomes such as change/innovation, conflict, turnover, and socialization. We outline the implications of this framework for future research on generations in organizations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management