We approach generational identity in the workplace as a social identity simultaneously linked to biological and historical location. We outline a dynamic social-ecological model of generational identity in which various levels of influences shape the potential for and manifestation of generational identities in the workplace. We propose that individual generational identity in the workplace is influenced by the interaction of four levels of factors: the workgroup, where generational identity is triggered; the organization, which structures the context in which work-related generational identity takes shape; the extra-organizational environment, which sets the general parameters for generational interactions with occupational and stakeholder groups; and society, where generational phenomena are manifested as historical social movements and depicted as mass media narratives. We examine each of these levels of influence and offer propositions, guided by social identity, self-categorization theory, fault line theory, and generational theory, to elucidate what each level of influence contributes to a fulsome understanding of generation as a complex phenomenon. This approach to generational identity in the workplace highlights the influences that serve as pre-conditions for generational conflict in organizations.

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Journal of Intergenerational Relationships
Sprott School of Business

Lyons, S.T. (Sean T.), Schweitzer, L, Urick, M.J. (Michael J.), & Kuron, L. (Lisa). (2019). A dynamic social-ecological model of generational identity in the workplace: Research. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 17(1), 1–24. doi:10.1080/15350770.2018.1500332