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REAd. Revista Eletrônica de Administração (Porto Alegre)

On-line version ISSN 1413-2311


LIMA, Gustavo Simão; CARVALHO NETO, Antonio  and  TANURE, Betania. Young and seniors top managers: conflicts and complementarities. REAd. Rev. eletrôn. adm. (Porto Alegre) [online]. 2012, vol.18, n.1, pp.63-96. ISSN 1413-2311.

This article aims to discuss the perception of young and senior top executives about the way each one of them deal with the impacts of the changes in business today. As specific goals this perception is discussed as related to: employability; flexible income; career perspectives; personal and professional balance; prejudices related to the elders and to the youth. The descriptive research that originated this paper is rare in this field of study as for its horizontal as for its vertical levels. The methodology is mixed quantitative-qualitative. The quantitative research interviewed 959 top managers, 492 juniors (till 40 years old) and 467 seniors (over 41). The qualitative research interviewed 263 top managers from 10 corporations operating in different sectors of the economy. The theoretical framework explores the pleas of a career that is more and more exigent and in where junior and seniors managers face the challenges brought by the logic of the auto employability and search for a better work-family balance. Results show that junior managers are reaching the top earlier than before. This brings tensions in two directions: the senior is afraid of not being able to find a similar job in a new corporation in any eventuality and feels more threatened by the young than before; the junior feels insecure as to his competence and feels himself pressed due to the substantial amount of expectations related to his capacity. Tensions provoked by the difficulties to balance work and family as well as barriers to career ascension (due to downsizing) ad to tensions related to different generations values. This situation generates lots of conflicts and prejudices from both, seniors and juniors. If juniors and seniors are both dissatisfied with this context the juniors are even more dissatisfied than the seniors with income, overwork, level of stress, health in general and the level of exigencies. Family pressures to balance work and family tend to be stronger for juniors parenting young children than for seniors with adult sons. Juniors experience more prejudice because of the dissociation between youth and competence. Conflict is still bigger in more than half of the 344 corporations we researched that are being restructured. Seniors consider themselves more loyal to the firm comparing to juniors. Juniors, by their turn, see seniors as more resistant to changes and more attached to management practices considered by them as surpassed.

Keywords : top manager career; juniors and seniors managers; work and family; generations conflicts; prejudices.

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