Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tammy Erickson -- Generations in China

This morning's best catch from Harvard Business online. Thumbnail descriptions of China's generational divides.

Tamara J. Erickson is both a McKinsey Award-winning author and popular and engaging storyteller. Her compelling views of the future are based on extensive research on changing demographics and employee values and, most recently, on how successful organizations work. Erickson has co-authored four Harvard Business Review articles and the books Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation and Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent. She is with nGenera.

*Individuals born from about 1928 to 1945 (Traditionalists)
*Individuals born from about 1946 to 1960/1964 (Boomers)
*Generation X - Individuals born from about 1961/1965 to 1979
*Generation Y - Individuals born from 1980 to 1995

This snip is from her description of the Y's.

Nicknamed the "Litter Emperors," Gen Y's in China occupy a special role in the burgeoning society. China's one child policy, introduced in 1979, means that most members of this generation are only children, in many instances reared as the sole focus of two parents and four doting grandparents. They tend to have high self esteem and a level of confidence that positions them for leadership roles in China and globally.

Like many Y's around the world, this generation has strong advanced technological skills and an urge to be connected globally. Even as teens, they confidently communicate directly with outside world leadership and influence the future of their country. During the 2008 Tibetan unrest which marked the 49th anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Beijing's rule, young patriotic Chinese waged Internet campaigns against Western media coverage of the protests. Also in 2008, when a massive earthquake killed 70,000, many young people participated in the rescue as volunteers.

Teen Y's in China have experienced a wave of national pride. Two foreign colonies were returned to China during their teen years: Hong Kong from Britain in 1997 and Macau from Portugal in 1999. In 2001, China was admitted into the World Trade Organization. Most significantly, in 2008, China successfully hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics.

As in India, Y's in China share this generation's global sense of immediacy, coupled with the excitement of being part of the country's first wave of broad economic opportunity and growing national pride. Y's in China are confident and competitive. For many, a desire for economic success is closely coupled with a desire for status. They are looking forward, toward increasing China's role and influence in the world.

As we look ahead to future generations, the one child policy was re-evaluated in 2008 and extended for at least another decade, insuring that the next generation will also be comprised largely of single children.

China, like other countries I'll discuss over the upcoming weeks, illustrates the dramatically different experiences and formative events that influenced those growing up in the 1940's - 1970's (the generations that I call Traditionalists and Boomers in the United States), and the growing similarity of experiences in the 1980's onward. Generations X and Y are the beginnings of global generations.

Litter Emperors! I love it.
Sounds like our own kids, acting like royalty while trashing the planet with disposable everything.

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