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Age Diversity in the Era of Digital Communications: How Does Integrating Digital Communications in the Workplace Affect Intergenerational Tensions?

Today’s workforce is aging and changing rapidly. In the past two decades, organizations have seen a notable increase in the age diversity of its employees, with more individuals from different generational backgrounds (Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, Millenials, etc.) working and collaborating with one another. Current research has indicated that while these intergenerational work groups bring a wealth of experience conducive to team creativity and innovation, there is also an increase in the potential for intergenerational conflict due to generational stereotypes and miscommunication. Furthermore, in the past decade, organizations have gradually begun to integrate digital communications in the workplace, a trend which given the ubiquity of the Internet is predicted to increase exponentially. This paper offers a theoretical perspective on how the integration of digital communications in the workplace can activate generational tensions in the workplace, influencing the way intergenerational teams collaborate and communicate. Drawing on the faultlines theory—which argues for the existence of hypothetical dividing lines which split a group into homogenous sub-groups based on the alignment of member attributes (age, race, education, etc.)—this paper will offer a theoretical perspective on how the integration of digital communications will affect today’s intergenerational workplace. Implications for managing intergenerational teams in the context of digital communications and suggestions for maintaining work group engagement will also be discussed.

Madeline Sy
Scripps College
Research Advisor: 
Dr. Amit Kramer
Department of Research Advisor: 
School of Labor & Employment Relations
Year of Publication: