Three demographic realities (large baby boom cohort, increasing longevity, declining birthrates) are driving unprecedented global shifts in population age distribution and require organizations wishing to attract, retain and engage mid-career, potentially disenfranchised talent in the 35 to 45-year-old age bracket (i.e. ‘Gen X’) to rethink management practices. This situation motivated the present research – a multi-method case study of Gen X knowledge workers that theoretically develops and uses objectivist grounded theory data analysis methodology to empirically test a typology describing possible subgroups within this cohort of employees who differ in terms of their formative experiences in the labor market. Analysis of data identified four subgroups within our sample of Gen X knowledge workers which share various similarities but also differ dramatically concerning what they expect from and how they view their current employer. Findings support the idea that different formative labor market experiences can result in generational sub-cohorts who want different things from employers and perceive the world differently. These findings can be used by researchers to launch further study of other potential subgroups in Gen X and other generational cohorts, and to organizations and practitioners in developing more effective recruitment and retention strategies for Gen X knowledge workers.

Additional Metadata
Keywords employment relationship, generation, generation cohort, Generation X, labor market conditions, psychological contract, worker expectations
Persistent URL
Journal International Journal of Human Resource Management
Duxbury, L, & Ormsbee, F. (Floyd). (2017). Does studying the past help us understand the future? an examination of the expectations of Gen X knowledge workers. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 1–29. doi:10.1080/09585192.2017.1393835