Generational ethics: Age cohort and healthcare executives' values [Book Review]

HEC Forum 14 (2):148-171 (2002)
Abstract
This cross-sectional study of three generations of healthcare executives examines whether age cohort is the key determiner of ethical values. Responses to a national survey using the Rokeach Value Survey indicate that, contrary to widely reported beliefs that suggest otherwise, the age cohort groups in this sample exhibit virtually identical value preferences. The concept of career attraction is introduced to explain the similarities in value preference, and it is further suggested that generational differences may be nullified by the homogeneous demands of organizational life in a healthcare setting. Implications for ethical decisionmaking are discussed.Does age cohort affiliation influence healthcare executive values and consequent ethical judgements? The greater body of literature clearly suggests the answer is yes, yet an empirical assessment of the question has never before been reported. The attention given this issue to date has been focused on the generational differences between the three age cohorts in the workplace today: Matures, Boomers, and Generation Xers (1). Defined as a group of people who share a given historical or socially structured life experience, an age cohort is believed to have a relatively stable influence over the decisionmaking of individuals, and serves to distinguish one generation from another (2)(3)(4). Generation X, or GenXers as they are commonly referred to, are comprised of individuals born between 1961 and 1981. Baby Boomers, or Boomers as they are popularly known, are those born between 1943 and 1960. Matures is the name given to characterize the group of people born between born 1925 and 1942. [Birth dates defining generational cohorts vary slightly among multiple sources. The dates used in this study are from Strauss and Howe (1991), though the nomenclature is not.]
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