Comparison of cross-generational work values of the millennial generation and their parents in the People's Republic of China

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International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy


Cross-generational work values differences, People’s Republic of China, Theory of generations


© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: This paper compares the work values of the People's Republic of China's (PRC) millennials with their parents. Design/methodology/approach: The Chinese version of the multidimensional work ethic profile (1. productive use of time; 2. centrality of work; 3. hard work; 4. delay of gratification; 5. leisure; 6. self-reliance; and 7. moral reasoning) was used to survey PRC millennials and their parents. A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used for comparing work values for a subsample of 68 same-gender parent/child dyads. A one-way ANOVA was used for comparing the work values of the total sample of 217 PRC millennials and their parents. Findings: The repeated measures ANOVA found that one of the seven work values for the male dyads and three of the seven work values for the female dyads were significantly different. The one-way ANOVA found that four of the seven work values for males grouping and five of the seven work values for the females grouping were significantly different. Research limitations/implications: Social norms and socialization by parents may moderate the influences of changing social conditions on personal values formation predicted by the theory of generations. Researchers need to sample across demographic and socioeconomic subgroups to understand subgroup differences when conducting cross-generational research. Taking large samples, aggregating data and drawing conclusions about cross-generational values may not be a valid approach in trying to understand the complexity of cross-generational values differences. Practical implications: Managers should be wary of broad declarations about cross-generational values differences. The differences in generational values are nuanced. Originality/value: This paper shows when controlling for same-gender parents, cross-generational values are very similar. This contrasts other findings on cross-generational values.

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