Motivation and Leadership of Generation Y

Julie Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this thesis has been to investigate how effective leadership can be used to motivate the Danish working Generation Y and how it can be used to accommodate Generation Y’s preferences to leadership. This study is based upon the claim that highly motivated employees are more productive, therefore researching how leaders most effectively motivate their employees is relevant. This thesis addresses the movement from industrial society to knowledge society along with an overview of motivational development.
This thesis is taking a deductive approach, as the theoretical frame forms the basis for a quantitative survey. Build upon quantitative data from 312 respondents, a result is revealed showing that Generation Y prefer to have a present leader, development opportunities, meaningful work, autonomy, and relatedness at their workplace. These findings indicate how Generation Y seek intrinsic motivation.
The study does not show many differences between Generation Y, Generation X, and Generation Baby boomer, which indicate that they all seek intrinsic motivational factors.
Findings from the study is that managers must become leaders to create intrinsic motivation. Based on McGregors Theory X and Y, employees should be viewed with a Y-view of human nature instead of a X-view.
The theory argues that extrinsic motivation does not address the creative and innovative workplaces of the 21st century, focus should instead be on intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivational factors are effective if it is not possible to create intrinsic motivation or if the employees do not identify with the task. Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s Situational Leadership theory is used to discuss the importance by adjusting the degree of authority and autonomy based on leadership style, the employee, and the situation. In this way it is possible for the leader to fulfil generation Y’s preferences for intrinsic motivation and add extrinsic motivational factors when needed.
To lead and motivate generation Y most effectively the findings show that the leader, based on Lewin’s Theory of three basic styles of leadership, must use a democratic leadership style. The authoritarian and laissez-farie leaders do not meet the needs of generation Y.

EducationsMSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages106
SupervisorsKasper Merling Arendt