Culture Shock! Generation Y and their Managers Around the World

This project was continuation of previous Ashridge Research looking at Generation Y in the workplace. Building on findings from 2009 and 2011, this research included international respondents from the Middle East and South East Asia, combining questionnaires, focus groups and interviews to build a global picture which examines:

  • What are the real issues with getting Gen Y working well at work?
  • What are organisations doing to manage young graduates successfully?
  • How is the world of work changing and how does that impact both senior and junior staff?
  • What is different/the same internationally?

Based on our earlier findings, and on questions repeatedly asked by existing and potential clients, and from open debate in the media we decided to :

  • investigate Generation Y outside of the western world, focusing on the Middle East, India, Malaysia and China.
  • explore the manager-graduate relationship in the first few years of work and expectations of managers, graduates and organisations for their future leaders.

Four key themes emerged from this research which include:

  • Expectations of work, turnover and external influences
  • Work experience, development and maturity
  • National culture and behaviour and corporate culture
  • Attitudes and behaviour, relationships and work-life balance

The Survey findings include:

  • There is a two year cut-off point when graduates want to move to a new company
  • Graduates in India and the UK are the most restless and those in Malaysia the least
  • There is a mis-match of expectations of work between graduates and managers, especially in terms of responsibility, speed of progress and level of challenging work
  • Graduates are seen as highly intelligent by their managers and key drivers of change. But Gen Y need to develop their Emotional Intelligence - their understanding of their impact on others
  • Managers and graduates need to dig deeper to understand their different views and to prevent inter-generational miscommunication
  • Managers believe they are acting as a coach or mentor, but graduates say they are not fulfilling this role.
  • Graduates do not want their managers' jobs - at least not the lifestyle. They see their managers as burnt out.
  • Local culture impacts managers' perspective of graduates


The executive summary can be downloaded here or download the full report.

For more information on our previous work see: