Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)

School

Business Administration

Advisor

Rocky Dwyer

Abstract

Four generations of workers share the workforce for the first time in history. Business leaders' failure to address generational conflict may lead to low productivity, high turnover rates, employee frustration, and reduced profits. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of business leaders, managers, and supervisors in leading a multigenerational workforce within their companies. The conceptual framework was based on McClelland's theory, identifying key motivators that drive characteristics of people, including affiliation. A purposive sample of 20 local employees, spanning 4 generations from the retail grocery industry in Hampton Roads, Virginia, were interviewed to explore general characteristics, attitudes, values, and behaviors at work. Transcribed interview data were divided into categories to find shared phenomenon and identify themes based on the participants' perceptions. The findings were categorized and coded, patterns were established, and themes were generated to answer the central research question. Trustworthiness of the interpretations was achieved through member checking. The findings from this study revealed that the employees perceived that business leaders, managers, and supervisors lacked sufficient knowledge to successfully communicate with their employees or peers from different generations in the workplace. The employees perceived that those communication failures and lack of interaction between the different generations generated conflict. The implications for positive social change include the potential to bridge the gap between younger and older workers and minimize conflict resulting from miscommunication among the different age groups.