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Publication Date

Summer 2012

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Altovise Rogers

Subject Areas

Occupational psychology


Numerous popular press articles have reported that Generation Y (GenY) employees have work values different from their previous generational cohorts. Many of these articles have claimed that members of GenY were more concerned with rewards, recognition, and status when compared to previous generations, yet these claims were rarely supported by empirical evidence. The purpose of this study was to add to the scientific research on generational differences in the workplace by investigating differences in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation between Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. A total of 370 individuals were surveyed using the Work Preference Inventory. The findings suggested that employees born into GenY were in fact more motivated by extrinsic work factors such as outward recognition and compensation than Baby Boomers and GenX. Further, this cohort appeared to be less intrinsically motivated when compared to the previous generations. All three generations, however, seemed to be equally motivated by enjoyable work. These findings add to the lack of research in generational differences in the workplace and have practical implications for the management of the emerging GenY workforce.