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Methodology

Procedure

Ethical approval for conducting this research project was obtained from the Kemmy Business School,
University of Limericks ethics committee (Appendix A, B). Block sampling was adopted for this
research to recruit participants through the form of email, social media and LinkedIn. It was important
to have a representative sample from each of the generational cohorts to ensure reliability and
validity. An outline of the research project and individual participation information was
communicated to employees before they took part in the survey in the form of an email (Appendix C).
All participants will received both the researchers and the supervisors contact details in the case they
required more information or had any questions prior, during or after their participation in the study.
The research software tool Qualtrics was used to distribute the survey to participants (Appendix D).

Sample

Initially 380 respondents undertook the survey, upon data analysis, the sample was reduced to 334
participants as to ensure reliability, and incomplete surveys were not included in the analysis process.
The sample was then comprised of 235 females (70.4%) and 99 males (29.6%), ranging in age from
16 to 70 (M= 35.23, SD= 11.967). Of the sample, 197 (59%) were Generation Y, 71 (21.3%) were
Generation X and 66 (19.8%) were Generation Baby Boomers. Further descriptive statics of each
generation can be observed in the table.

N Minimum Maximum Mean SD

Generation Y

Gender 197 1 2 1.65 .48

Year of birth 197 1980 2000 1989 4.14

Age 197 16 35 26.03 3.77

Years of Work Experience 197 1 20 5.86 4.87

Generation X

Gender 71 1 2 1.80 .40

Year of birth 71 1968 1979 1973 3.29

Age 71 36 47 41.14 3.23


Years of Work Experience 71 8 33 20.93 5.23

Generation Baby Boomers

Gender 66 1 2 1.76 4.32

Year of birth 66 1950 1967 1961 4.08

Age 66 48 65 53.63 4.26

Years of Work Experience 66 10 47 33.33 6.77

Table 1: Descriptive Statistics of each generation

Measures

Feedback Orientation

The Feedback Orientation Scale (FOS) created by Linderbaum and Levy 2010 was used to measure
feedback orientation. This scale has shown good internal consistency in other research studies. The
measure has 20 statements which address the components of feedback orientation individually. The
four individual orientations examined were feedback utility, accountability, social awareness and self-
efficacy. The respondents answered each of the statements on a five point scale (1-strongly disagree
to 5-strongly agree).

The utility subscale consisted of five items. Statements include Feedback contributes to my success
at work, To develop my skills at work, I rely on feedback, Feedback is critical for improving
performance, Feedback from supervisors can help me advance in a company, I find that feedback
is critical for reaching my goals (Linderbaum and Levy 2010). The Cronbachs a score for the utility
scale (.801) indicated internal consistency and reliability. The accountability subscale consisted of
five items. Statements include It is my responsibility to apply feedback to improve my performance,
I hold myself accountable to respond to feedback appropriately, I dont feel a sense of closure until
I respond to feedback, If my supervisor gives me feedback, it is my responsibility to respond to it,
I feel obligated to make changes based on feedback (Linderbaum and Levy 2010). The Cronbachs
a score for the accountability scale (.789) indicated internal consistency and reliability. The third
orientation was social awareness which had five items. Statements included I try to be aware of what
other people think of me, Using feedback, I am more aware of what people think of me, Feedback
helps me manage the impression I make on others, Feedback lets me know how I am perceived by
others, I rely on feedback to help me make a good impression (Linderbaum and Levy 2010).
Acceptable internal consistency and reliability was observed as the Cronbachs a score was .818. The
self-efficacy subscale was also comprised of five items. Statements included I feel self-assured when
dealing with feedback, Compared to others, I am more competent at handling feedback, I believe
that I have the ability to deal with feedback effectively, I feel confident when responding to both
positive and negative feedback, I know that I can handle the feedback that I receive (Linderbaum
and Levy 2010). The Cronbachs a score for the self-efficacy scale .835 indicated internal consistency
and reliability.

Leadership Preferences

Leadership Preference were assessed using Kouzes and Posner 1993 Leadership Preferences Scale.
This scale has been shown to be a reliable and valid instrument for measuring leadership preferences
in other studies. The measure had 17 statements which addressed the leadership preferences of
challenging, inspiring, enabling, modelling and encouraging. The respondents answered each of the
statements on a 7 point scale (1- not at all important, to 7-essential).

The enabling leadership subscale consisted of four items. Statements included Actively develops
cooperative relationships among the people he/she works with, Actively listens to diverse points of
view, Gives people a great deal of freedom and choice in deciding how to do their work and
Encourages people to continually develop and learn new skills (Kouzes and Posner 1993). The
Cronbachs a score for the enabling leadership subscale .714 indicated internal consistency and
reliability. The encouraging leadership subscale consisted of two items. Statements included Praises
people for a job well done and Gives us lots of appreciation and support for our contribution
(Kouzes and Posner 1993). The Cronbachs a score for the encouraging leadership subscale .795
indicated internal consistency and reliability. The modelling leadership subscale consisted of five
items. Statements included Asks me for feedback on how his/her actions affects my performance,
Follows through on promises and commitments he/she makes, Sets a personal example of what
he/she expects of others, Ensures that work principles and standards are adhered to and Builds
consensus around a common set of values (Kouzes and Posner 1993). The Cronbachs a score for the
modelling leadership subscale .702 indicated internal consistency and reliability. The challenging
leadership subscale was comprised of four items. Statements included Seeks out challenging
opportunities that test his/her own skills and abilities, Makes certain that we set achievable and
measurable goals, Experiments and takes risks, even when there is a chance of failure and
Searches beyond the company for innovative ways to improve what we do (Kouzes and Posner
1993). The Cronbachs a score for the challenging leadership subscale .709 indicated internal
consistency and reliability. The final preference was the inspiring leadership subscale which was
comprised of two items. Statements included Encourages others to share an exciting dream of the
future and Talks about future trends that will influence how our work gets done (Kouzes and
Posner 1993). The Cronbachs a score for the inspiring leadership subscale .780 indicated internal
consistency and reliability.

Generation Cohort

Generational Cohort was measured by a one item question, In what year were you born?. The birth
date given was then recoded into the particular generation in to which it fitted, 1= Generation Y, 2=
Generation X and 3= Generation Baby Boomers. Participants that indicated they were born between
the years 1944 and 1967 were labelled Generation Baby Boomers (BBs), participants that indicated
they were born between the years 1968 and 1979 were labelled Generation X and participants that
indicated they were born between the years 1980 and 2000 were labelled Generation Y.

Design

The study utilised a between subjects design. Four central variables were used in the study. The
dependant variable was leadership preferences. The three independent variables were feedback
orientation, generation cohort and gender. Other variables were also considered to ensure reliability
and to control age demographics. These variables included years of work experience, industry and
highest level of education attained. The justification for the use of this methodology to investigate
generational differences in both feedback orientation and leadership preferences has been recognised
by many researchers as the most appropriate method.

Overview of Statistical Analysis

Participants ratings for each of the four feedback orientations and the five leadership preferences
were categorised by generation. Correlations were conducted to determine if there was significant
relationships between the four feedback orientations and the five leadership preferences. Independent
t-tests were also conducted to establish if males and females differed in the feedback orientation and
leadership preference ratings. A series of one way ANOVAs were conducted to determine if
generation cohort had an effect on leadership preferences and feedback orientation. Factorial
ANOVAs were used to distinguish if the interaction between generation and feedback orientation
significantly affected participants leadership preferences.

Effect sizes are presented as r for correlation analysis with values of .10 to .29 representing a small
effect size, values of .3 to .49 representing a medium effect size, and values of .5 to 1 representing a
large effect size, respectively (Cohen 1988). For t-tests, Cohens d effect sizes are represented as .2
for small, .5 for medium and .8 for a large effect. Effect sizes for ANOVA are represented as partial
n, with small, medium and large effect sizes signifying values of .01, .06, and .1, respectively (Cohen
1988).