Leadership in a Declining Work Ethic

by Ann Howard, James Wilson



The American post-war generation seems to be less motivated toward success, less optimistic and certainly less committed to the large institutions that make up the society than any previous generation of Americans. This sharp break in traditional values causes much concern in the U.S. corporate world. The obvious question is, can organizations negotiate a safe journey through the turbulent times ahead if leadership falls to those, who would rather not lead? In the late 1970s the American Telephone & Telegraph company began its second major longitudinal study of managers, to see if college graduates, entering the management work force of the Bell System's twenty three operating companies were comparable to a similar group of twenty years before. The study revealed that the new generation indeed match the former managerial group but in terms of measures of motivation, they were far behind. By and large the new recruits were inclined neither to push their way up the organizational hierarchy nor to lead others. In short, the new managers weren't motivated to act like managers.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

Learn more
Follow Us