Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Afsaneh Nahavandi, PhD, Co-Chair; Marcus Lam, PhD, Co-Chair; Christopher B. Newman, PhD, Member


Engagement, Generations, Millennials, Stereotypes


There are approximately 58 million Millennials working for corporations in the United States. Millennials generally born between the years 1980 to 1995 are said to have been shaped by events such as the invention of the Internet and cell phones. Given that Millennials make up a large percentage of the active workforce, it is important to understand the perceived stereotypes of Millennials and how these generalizations may impact their engagement and effectiveness at work.

This research aims to better understand how managers perceive Millennial employees, how Millennials self-identify with their generational stereotypes, and how they differ from other generations. The dissertation further seeks to better understand the factors that engage Millennials at work. A total of 1,097 employees of two private, service-based organizations participated in the survey that collected information on stereotypes and engagement preferences. The results indicate managers hold nine of the common Millennial stereotypes (entitled, disloyal, lazy, creative, multi-taskers, passionate, wanting work/life balance, needy, and sensitive) while Millennials view themselves as passionate multi-taskers, who value work-life balance. Further, Millennials who identify as Millennials saw themselves as less creative and placed less value on work-life balance than Millennials who do not self-identify as Millennials. When compared to other generations, Millennials differ only in their responses to the following stereotypes: entitled, lazy, needy, creative, and passionate. Finally, the relationship between eleven engagement practices and stereotypes, controlling for role in the organization (manager vs. non-manager), generation, gender, and highest level of education, is presented in regression models. Key findings indicate the more an individual self-identifies as a multi-tasker, the more likely they are to enjoy team competition and dress casually in the workplace. Also, those who self-identified as sensitive have a decreased desire for healthy team competition.

This study indicates not all Millennials see themselves as exhibiting the commonly held stereotypes and confirms previous studies that found managers hold specific stereotypes of Millennials. Additionally, building upon previous studies, this study’s results suggest Millennials’ self-identification is not as consistent as expected. Moreover, recognizing how an employee self-identifies with the stereotypes can aid managers in employing specific practices to increase engagement.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies