We suggest that different generations differ in the meaning they ascribe to their work, which hinders mutual understanding and cooperation. In addition, we propose that part of the inter- generational differences are caused by the different life stages that people occupy. Thus, age simulation–envisioning oneself in another age group–can reduce one’s perceived dissimilarity with another generation in work meaning and facilitate inter-generational understanding and cooperation. With a survey of 1000 Chinese working adults, we found inter- generational difference in work meaning. Millennials regard their work more as a means to obtain status and less to support families than the older two generations. Cultural Revolution generation members regards work more as a way to serve society than the other two generations. These difference in work meaning are negatively related to perceived oneness, which further influences willingness to help and mentor members of another generation. Among the 1000 participants, 520 participated in a mental simulation task– envisioning one’s work in a different generation’s life stage. Age simulation significantly reduced perceived dissimilarity and increased perceived oneness, perspective taking, and willingness to help and mentor the other generation. The findings hold important implications for communication, diversity management, and group cohesion in the workplace.
|Title of host publication||Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|