Influence of Management Functions on Interpersonal
Competence of Gen X Managers
Prof S. Ganesan, Ph.D.,*
Dr. R.Krishnamurthi'
Abstract
“Generation X” is a phrase that has gained entry into modern management literature.
Generation X managers are expected to shoulder leadership responsibilities to steer future
organizations towards excellence. However, not much research work has been carried out in
Indian context to study the characteristics and preferences of Generation X and influences of
management functions on their interpersonal competence. Hence a study was conducted to study
the influence of management functions on the interpersonal competence of Generation X
managers. Data for the study were collected from 243 Generation X managers who belonged to
six management functions. The respondents were from nine companies that belonged to seven
manufacturing industries. This paper presents the profile of Generation X managers, establishes
the need of the study, the methodology adapted to collect the data required for the study and
discusses the findings.
Key Words: Generation X; Interpersonal Competence; Management functions; Human
Resource; Finance; Marketing; Operations
Introduction
Generation X (Gen X) can be traced back to Douglas Coupland 1991) who wrote about late
boomers and gave them the title ‘Generation X’. The usage of the name can also be attributed to
media that popularised the phrase during the mid 1990s. Generation X, also known as “baby
busters”, have grown up in times of rapid changes. Hurt more by parental divorce, and having
witnessed corporate downsizing firsthand, they tend to be independent, cynical and do not expect
the security of long-term employment (2003). They began to project an image of a generation of
people who were angry, cynical, frustrated and unmotivated.
A review of the literature on Gen X revealed that there is no single accepted age range for
individuals born after the Baby Boomers. According to Cannon (1997), the label ‘Generation X’
is coined from the Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland’s 1991 novel Generation X and Strauss
and Howe (1991) put Generation X birth years from 1961 to 1981. Tulgan (1995) reported that
the age range of Generation X was from 1963 to1981. According to Collins (2000) some
researchers marked Generation X as people born between 1960 and 1979. Much of the literature,
according to McShane and Von Glinov (2005), accepts that Generation X employees are those
born between 1965 and 1975. For this study, the age range between 1965 and 1977 as identified
by Cascio (2003) was considered.
* Director General, Suguna Spark Business School, Coimbatore. Mail: [email protected]
' Corporate Trainer, IMPACT, Coimbatore. Mail: [email protected]
1
Need of the Study
An extensive study on the outstanding performers revealed, as per Moss (1929), that their
success depended not on their deep and profound knowledge which challenged the brains of
average people but on the simple and more commonplace qualities which pleased the
understanding of the common people, and aroused in their hearts a feeling of sympathy. A study
by the Institute of Management Accountants found that ‘interpersonal skills’ were most
important for success as professional accountants. Professional accounting practices, claimed
Akers and Porter (2003), had placed little emphasis on behavioral issues such as interpersonal
relationships although human behavior underlined most of what was written and taught about
professional accounting. Interpersonal Competence (IC) is defined by Buhrmester and
Wittenberg (1988) as: “Relating well to all kinds of people (both within and across groups)
regardless of level, inside or outside of organization, building effective relationships, using tact
and diplomacy when dealing with and interacting with others, working effectively with others to
achieve common goals.”
Chris Argyris (1962) emphasised the importance of interpersonal competence in the workplace
in 1962. What he envisioned is relevant even in the present day workplace. “Without
interpersonal competence or a ‘psychologically safe’ environment, an organisation is a breeding
ground for mistrust, intergroup conflict, rigidity and so on, which in turn lead to a decrease in
organisational success in problem solving.” Raymond (1974) examined the relationship between
interpersonal needs of MBA professionals and their preferences for a functional area of
management. The study found significant differences in interpersonal skills among professionals
belonging to different management functions such as accounting, marketing, human resource and
production and operations. Hence, a study was attempted to study the influence of management
functions on interpersonal competence of Gen X managers.
Methodology
Table 1.1
Distribution Of Respondents Of IC Across Management Functions
No
Management
Functions
Gen X
Managers
% of total
sample
1
Finance
20
8.23
2
GA
27
11.11
3
HR
47
19.34
4
Logistics
50
20.58
5
Marketing
20
8.23
6
Operations
79
32.51
Total
243
2
100
Data for the research study, as given in Table 1.1, were collected from 243 Gen X managers who
belonged to nine manufacturing industry. ‘Interpersonal Competence’ questionnaire designed by
the Researcher was used to measure the interpersonal competence of the respondents. The
questionnaire comprised 83 items with five point responses ranging from ‘Strongly Disagree’ (1
point) to ‘Strongly Agree’ (5 points). Hence, minimum and maximum scores were 83 and 415
respectively.
The respondents of the study belonged to six management functions, viz., Finance, General
Administration (GA), Human Resource (HR), Logistics, Marketing and Operations. Each
management function had various sub functions. Finance function included Corporate
Accounting, Planning & Budgeting, Internal Auditing, Costing, Investor Relations and Portfolio
Management. General Administration encompassed Safety & Security, Office Administration,
House Keeping, Transportation, Canteen and Corporate Affairs. Human Resources function
consisted of Personnel and Administration, Employee Relations, Recruitment, Counselling,
Training and Development, Community Development and Employee Welfare. Logistics
function covered Procurement, Maintenance, Distribution and Export Management. Marketing
function contained Strategy, New Product Development, Marketing, Sales, Promotion, Service
and Customer Relationship Management. And Operations function comprised Production,
Research and Development, Paint Shop, Assembly, Press shop, Machine Shop, Case Shop,
Design and Quality Assurance.
Discussions
Based on previous research findings, it was understood that interpersonal relationships of the
respondents was influenced by their management functions. The mean scores of IC of the
respondents, as presented in table 1.2, from different management functions were taken to study
the differences and verify the previous findings.
Table 1.2
IC With Reference To Management Functions
Management
Functions
Number of
Responses
Finance
GA
HR
Logistics
Marketing
Operations
Scale
Mean
Values
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
Moderately
Agree
Agree
Strongly
Agree
20
64
201
400
532
463
305.45
27
139
296
559
801
446
290.44
47
239
345
643
1380
1294
315.91
50
239
502
1066
1434
909
294.44
20
77
236
433
610
304
290.40
79
336
969
1778
2099
1375
289.56
3
The mean scores show that there were differences in the levels of IC among the respondents who
belonged to different management functions. The respondents from Operations function had the
lowest mean score (289.56) and the respondents from Human Resource function had the highest
mean score (315.91). The differences in the mean scores among Finance, Logistics, Marketing
and Operations function were very subtle. Since the differences were not observable, a
hypothesis was formulated to statistically verify the differences. It is, ‘The levels of IC of Gen X
managers vary with regard to their management functions.’
NH: Gen X managers from different management functions have same level of IC.
AH: Gen X managers from different management functions do not have same level of IC.
The results of ANOVA test, as presented in Table 1.3, show that there is significant difference in
the levels of IC of the respondents who belonged to different management functions. It is
concluded that management functions had an influence on IC of Gen X managers. Hence, PostHoc test was conducted to find out the management function that had the maximum influence on
the IC of the respondents.
Table 1.3
Analysis Of Variance In IC Among Management Functions
Attribute
Interpersonal
Competence
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
Sum of
Squares
df
5093.07
222752.17
227845.24
5
237
242
Mean
Square
4991.89
856.05
F
Sig.
Result
5.83
0.000
<0.05 - null
hypothesis is rejected
From the Post-Hoc analysis, as given in Table 1.4, it is derived that the respondents who
belonged to Human Resource function had significantly the highest level of IC and the
respondents who belonged to Operations function had the lowest level of IC among the
respondents from Finance, Marketing, Logistics and General Administration functions. There
was no difference in the levels of IC among the respondents from to Human Resource and
Finance functions. Though differences in IC existed among the respondents who belonged to
other management functions, they were not significant. The study was further extended to study
the influence of management functions on the dimensions of IC.
Table 1.4
Differences In IC Among Management Functions
Management
M.D
Sig.
Functions
HR
Marketing
25.51* 0.016
Finance
10.46
0.763
Interpersonal
Operations
26.34* 0.000
Competence
Logistics
21.47* 0.005
GA
25.47* 0.005
* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level.
Attribute
4
Result
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
Management Functions & IC Dimensions
Table 1.5
Management
Functions
IC Dimensions With Reference To Management Functions
Number of
Responses
Finance
GA
HR
Logistics
Marketing
Operations
20
27
47
50
20
79
Finance
GA
HR
Logistics
Marketing
Operations
20
27
47
50
20
79
Finance
GA
HR
Logistics
Marketing
Operations
20
27
47
50
20
79
Finance
GA
HR
Logistics
Marketing
Operations
20
27
47
50
20
79
Finance
GA
HR
Logistics
Marketing
Operations
20
27
47
50
20
79
Scale
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
Moderately
Agree
Listening
10
38
80
28
51
107
59
58
118
35
92
208
10
28
76
61
177
374
Rapport Building
15
46
85
36
59
128
53
71
137
47
104
233
17
44
95
74
217
355
Initiative
20
56
87
31
74
134
61
94
167
71
120
271
14
65
102
93
259
398
Respecting Others
7
22
62
23
45
89
30
54
93
26
81
183
17
36
72
48
138
333
Social Intelligence
20
31
80
23
67
97
47
56
128
58
107
172
14
46
78
71
184
321
5
Mean
Values
Agree
Strongly
Agree
112
174
294
315
136
436
100
99
270
200
90
295
63.70
60.88
65.00
62.06
64.40
60.81
109
158
256
296
128
439
85
78
282
170
56
258
61.15
57.77
64.68
59.76
59.10
58.46
108
166
276
255
109
363
69
54
201
133
50
230
58.50
56.11
60.83
56.18
56.80
55.78
109
168
276
307
133
450
120
107
299
203
62
295
63.65
58.77
64.17
59.60
57.35
58.20
98
137
273
261
115
394
91
108
248
202
67
294
58.45
56.88
61.17
56.84
56.75
56.30
A further study was carried out to find the dimensions of IC that had the maximum and
minimum influences on the IC of Gen X managers. The instrument had five dimensions. They
were: Listening, Rapport Building, Initiative, Respecting Others and Social Intelligence. Mean
scores, as presented in Table 1.5, show that there were differences in the levels of various
dimensions of IC among the respondents who belonged to different management functions. In
Listening dimension, the respondents from Human Resource function had the highest mean score
(65.00) and the respondents from Operations function had the lowest mean score (60.81). In
Rapport Building dimension, the respondents from Human Resource function had the highest
mean score (64.68) and the respondents from General Administration had the lowest mean score
(57.77). In Initiative dimension, the respondents from Human Resource function had the highest
mean score (60.83) and the respondents who belonged to Operations function had the lowest
mean score (55.78). In Respecting Others dimension, the respondents who belonged to Human
Resource function had the highest mean score (64.17) and the respondents from Marketing
function had the lowest mean score (57.35). In Social Intelligence dimension, the respondents
from Human Resource function had the highest mean score (61.17) and the respondents from
Operations function had the lowest mean score (56.30). The differences in mean scores were
evident in Respecting Others and Social Intelligence dimensions, but not apparent in Listening,
Rapport Building and Initiative dimensions. To study the distinction in differences it is
hypothesized as ‘Gen X managers from different management functions have different levels of:
Listening, Rapport Building, Initiative, Respecting Others and Social Intelligence.’
NH: Gen X managers from different management functions have same level of: Listening,
Rapport Building, Initiative, Respecting Others and Social Intelligence.
AH: Gen X managers from different management functions do not have same level of:
Listening, Rapport Building, Initiative, Respecting Others and Social Intelligence.
Table 1.6
Analysis Of Variance In IC Dimensions Among Management Functions
Dimensions
Listening
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
Rapport Building
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
Initiative
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
Respecting
Others
Between Groups
Within Groups
Sum of
Squares
df
675.30
13172.63
13848.00
5
237
242
1389.76
13432.02
14821.78
Mean
Square
F
Sig.
Result
135.07
55.58
2.43
0.036
<0.05- Null
hypothesis is rejected
5
237
242
277.95
56.67
4.90
920.46
11306.05
12226.51
5
237
242
184.92
47.70
3.85
1526.02
10277.16
5
237
305.20
43.36
7.03
6
0.000
0.002
0.000
<0.05- Null
hypothesis is rejected
<0.05- Null
hypothesis is rejected
<0.05- Null
hypothesis is rejected
Total
Social
Intelligence
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
11803.18
242
802.97
9501.43
10304.40
5
237
242
160.59
40.09
4.00
0.002
<0.05- Null
hypothesis is rejected
ANOVA test was applied to check whether Gen X managers from different management
functions have different levels of EI dimensions. The results of ANOVA test, as presented in
Table 1.6, show that there are significant differences in the levels of different dimensions of IC
among the respondents who belonged to various management functions as the null hypothesis
‘Gen X managers from different management functions have same level of: Listening, Rapport
Building, Initiative, Respecting Others and Social Intelligence’ is rejected. So, it is concluded
that the management functions of the respondents influenced all the dimensions of IC. Post-Hoc
analysis was conducted to find out the management function that had the maximum influence on
Listening, Rapport Building, Initiative, Respecting Others and Social Intelligence of the
respondents. From the Post-Hoc analysis, as given in Table 1.7, the following results are derived.
In the Listening dimension, the respondents who belonged to Human Resource had significantly
higher level of Listening than the respondents who belonged to Operations. Though differences
in Listening existed among the respondents from other management functions, they were not
significant. In the Rapport Building dimension, the respondents from Human Resource function
had significantly the highest level of Rapport Building among the respondents who belonged to
Operations, Logistics and General Administration functions. Though differences in Rapport
Building existed among the respondents from other management functions, they were not
significant. In the Initiative dimension, the respondents who belonged to Human Resource
function had significantly the highest level of Initiative among the respondents of Operations,
Logistics and General Administration functions. Though differences existed in Initiative among
the respondents from other management functions, they were not significant.
Table 1.7
Dimensions
Listening
Rapport
Building
Initiative
Differences In IC Dimensions With Reference To Management Functions
Management
Functions
HR
Marketing
Finance
Operations
Logistics
GA
HR
Marketing
Finance
Operations
Logistics
GA
HR
Marketing
Finance
M.D
Sig.
4.60
1.30
4.18*
2.94
4.11
5.58
3.53
6.21*
4.92*
6.90*
4.09
2.39
0.194
0.987
0.030
0.380
0.205
0.065
0.496
0.000
0.018
0.003
0.232
0.786
7
Result
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
Operations
5.10* 0.001
Logistics
4.71* 0.012
GA
4.78* 0.051
HR
Marketing
6.82* 0.002
Finance
0.52
1.000
Respecting
Operations
5.96* 0.000
Others
Logistics
4.57* 0.010
GA
5.39* 0.010
HR
Marketing
4.42
0.098
Finance
2.72
0.593
Social
Operations
4.86* 0.001
intelligence
Logistics
4.33* 0.011
GA
4.28
0.061
* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level.
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
< 0.05- difference is significant
In the Respecting Others dimension, the respondents who belonged to Human Resource function
had significantly the highest level of Respecting Others among the respondents from Marketing,
Operations, Logistics and General Administration functions. Though differences in Respecting
Others existed among the respondents who belonged to other functions, they were not
significant. In the Social Intelligence dimension, the respondents who belonged to Human
Resource function had significantly the highest level of Social Intelligence among the
respondents from Operations and Logistics functions.
There were differences in the levels of various dimensions of IC among the respondents.
Respondents from Human Resource function scored high in all the five dimensions of IC and the
respondents who belonged to Operations function scored low in Listening, Initiative and Social
Intelligence, the respondents from Marketing function scored low in Respecting Others and the
respondents from General Administration scored low in Rapport Building.
Conclusion
There were significant differences in the levels of IC of Gen X managers from different
management functions. The respondents who belonged to Human Resource function had the
highest IC and the respondents who belonged to Operations function had the lowest IC. There
were differences in the levels of various dimensions of IC among the respondents. The
respondents who belonged to Human Resource function scored high in all the five dimensions of
IC and the respondents who belonged to Operations function scored low in Listening, Initiative
and Social Intelligence. The respondents who belonged to Marketing function scored low in
Respecting Others and the respondents who belonged to General Administration scored low in
Rapport Building.
8
References
Buhrmester, D. Furman. and Wittenberg, Reis H. (1988) ‘Five Domains of Interpersonal
competence in peer relationships,’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol.55,
Issue 4, pp. 991-1008.
Cannon, D. (1997) Generation X and the New Work Ethics, London: Demos.
Chris, Argyris. (1962) Interpersonal Competence and Organisational Effectiveness, Illinois:
Tavistock Publications.
Collins, M. (2000) ‘Generation X-Review,’ Journal of Career Planning and Employment,
Vol.12, Issue 3, pp. 65-74.
Douglas, Coupland. (1991) Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, Abacus: St
Martin’s Press.
Hill, Raymond.E. (1974) ‘Interpersonal Needs and Functional Area of Management,’ Journal of
Vocational Behaviour, Vol. 4, Issue 1, pp. 15-24.
McShane, L Steven. and Von Glinov, Mary Ann. (2005) Organizational Behavior, New Delhi:
Tata-McGraw Hill.
Michael, D Akers and Grover, L Porter. (2003) ‘Your EQ Skills: Got what it Takes?’ Journal of
Accountancy, March, pp. 65-69.
Moss, F.A. (1929) Applications of Psychology, Cambridge, M.A: Riverside Press.
Strauss, W. and Howe, N. (1991) Generations: The History of America’s Future 1584-2069,
New York: William Morrow and Company Inc.
Tulgan, Bruce. (1995) Managing Generation X: How to bring out the best in young talent, New
York: Merrit Publishing.
Wayne, F. Cascio. (2003) Managing Human Resources: Productivity, Quality of Work life and
Profits, New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.
9