Date of Award

3-25-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Douglas P. DeVore, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Linda I. De Long, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Carlos L. Rodriguez, Ed.D.

Abstract

Purpose. This quantitative study’s purpose was to describe and determine the degree of difference and importance of leadership characteristics as perceived by Baby Boom, Generation X, and Millennial generational cohort followers in STEM-related U.S.-based or headquartered aerospace and computer organizations as measured by the Multigenerational Leadership Characteristics Questionnaire (MLCQ).

Methodology. This was a cross-sectional, nonexperimental, comparative and correlational quantitative, ex post facto study. A web-based MLCQ was developed after conducting an academic literature review. Participants used a 6-point Likert scale identifying the importance of 30 characteristics with 2 aggregation questions identifying the most and least important characteristics; 408 members of 13 aerospace and computer organizations located throughout the United States served as a sample STEM organization population, exceeding the required 384 for a 95% confidence level at p ≤ 0.05. Survey access was negotiated with each organization. MegaStat and Qualtrics analyzed the data. Descriptive statistics including mean, standard deviation, and percentages determined characteristic importance within each generation. Inferential statistics were used to identify significant differences between generational pairings with a One-Way ANOVA and Tukey’s HSD to determine pairing applicability.

Findings. Unique generational leadership characteristic preferences and priorities including cohort identities were discovered. Generational similarities and differences were identified. Tukey's HSD determined significant differences for 4 generational pairings related to mentoring, ethics, leading by example, and innovation. A holistic analysis of data and research indicated additional characteristic differences and potential multigenerational trends regarding ethics, innovation, work focus, and feedback.

Conclusions. Leaders must lead from the front with a bold vision and recognize generational differences and similarities. They must drive organizational change balancing independent and individual constructs. Disturbing follower trends of the preference for fewer new ideas and lower ethical standards must be reversed or the United States risks losing its lead in STEM fields.

Recommendations. Continued research must include longitudinal studies into generational differences emphasizing other industries, cultures, and identifying multigenerational trends. Expanded research is recommended to determine motivators and other variables impacting characteristic preferences. Furthermore, inclusion of the iGeneration is vital. Finally, determine if generational difference-aware leaders are more or less effective and if they develop higher performing teams.

Comments

The research focused on the preferred leadership characteristics of the Baby Boomer, Generation X, and Millennial (Generation Y) generations. The more senior Veteran (Traditional) generation and younger iGeneration (Generation Z) are also discussed.