Date of Award

5-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Business Administration

Major Professor

Virginia W. Kuprtiz

Committee Members

Sharon J. Bartley, John W. Haas, Martha W. Keel

Abstract

This exploratory study identified generational preferences for receiving information from management through different communication channels and determined if age predicted productivity for productive and unproductive information received through different communication channels. This is the first study to empirically examine the relationship between age cohorts, communication channel preferences, information categories, and productivity. Sample participants worked as Extension agents at a major land-grant university. The four generations represented in the sample utilized multiple communication channels and were geographically dispersed throughout the state. The survey was administered electronically and completed by 204 (74%) of the eligible 275 employees in the organization. Independent Samples t-tests, General Linear Modeling, ANOVA’s, means analysis and linear regressions were employed to analyze the data to test the hypotheses.

Regarding channel preference, the findings determined that face-to-face communication was preferred by both generations for receiving private and confidential information and for training. Media was preferred by both generations for routine and procedural and time-sensitive information. Lastly, the analysis revealed that written documents were the preferred method of both generational cohorts for compensation and benefits. Regarding productivity, the findings determined that age predicted a perceived increase in productivity tasks for production information received face-to-face from management, but did not predict a perceived increase in productivity tasks for the other communication channels. Both generational cohorts perceived productive information received face-to-face from management to increase morale and decrease stress. The cohorts, however, differed on the increase of trust as a result of receiving productive information face-to-face. Both generational cohorts perceived unproductive information received from management through all communication channels to negatively impact productivity tasks. Finally, both cohorts perceived unproductive information received face-to-face from management to negatively impact morale, trust and stress.

Empirical examination of generational workforce issues is relatively new to Human Resources and research is needed to further examine generational perceptions. The study begins to open dialogue that the supposed differences inherent in the multigenerational workforce are not as much a factor of the generation as the information. The development of the new instrument in this study provides a new tool to examine organizations preferences and productivity.

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