A comparative study of the leadership preferences of Chinese Millennials and non-Millennials
There has been a lack of academic research focusing on the generational differences in leadership preferences in the Chinese context, particularly in terms of the Millennial generation. In what way, if at all, do the leadership preferences of Chinese Millennials differ from those of Chinese non-Millennials? Such was the guiding question of the study I present in this thesis. The purpose of this study was to explore and compare the leadership preferences of Chinese Millennials and non-Millennials, so as to allow academics and organizations to better understand the leadership preferences of Chinese Millennials, and recognize the differences/similarities in leadership preferences between the employees of different generations in China. A total of 460 participants participated in this study (230 are Millennials, 230 non-Millennials), all of whom were Chinese living in mainland China, and full-time workers with at least one year of work experience. The study used a questionnaire to collect data regarding participants’ leadership preferences, which was then analyzed in three steps (i.e., a primary analysis and two follow-up analyses). The results show that, overall, Chinese Millennials have similar leadership preferences to non-Millennials. I draw on relevant literature to theorize about the social and psychological mechanisms that might underpin my findings. Potential explanations include traditional Chinese culture being consolidated and inherited; people having similar fundamental needs (regardless of generational membership), and therefore similar leadership preferences; and the impact of intergenerational interactions and a shared organizational environment. By increasing understanding of the research evidence that exists about leadership preferences across generations, leadership challenges in the multi-generation workforce can be overcome. A better understanding of Millennials’ leadership preferences, as well as differences and similarities in these preferences among different generations, also enables organizations and leaders to better lead the growing number of Millennial employees in China.