Date of Submission

Fall 12-2-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)


Conflict Management

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Darina Lepadatu

Committee Member

Dr. Joshua Johnson

Committee Member

Dr. Stacy Campbell


The Millennial generation is now the largest cohort in the United States, with an estimated 85 million Millennials compared to 69.5 million Generation Xers and 69.6 million Baby Boomers (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019). Given the growing impact of this sizable generation, this paper explores the conflict styles of Millennials and employs mixed methods research to provide insight into how Millennials handle conflict in the workplace and society overall. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups are utilized to examine the research question: “How do Millennials manage conflict in the workplace?” Further, using data from the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, the quantitative longitudinal cohort study asks: “What are the dominant conflict styles for Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers?” Additionally, to address age versus cohort effects, the quantitative cross-temporal analysis asks: “How do the conflict styles of Millennials compare to the conflict styles of Generation Xers?” The quantitative analyses are further extended to look at gender and conflict style changes over time. The qualitative study of 47 participants and the quantitative study with an N of 10,911 provides rich analysis and triangulation. The qualitative findings reveal that Millennials are more likely to avoid conflict, and withdraw and seek advice from their online support group. Turning to the quantitative analysis, while all five conflict styles (avoiding, accommodating, compromising, collaborative, and competing) are present in each generational cohort, the longitudinal cohort study finds that Millennials are more likely to compete and accommodate. Although the findings of the cohort study are not significant for Millennials being more likely to avoid, this result is impacted by the generational age differences in this analysis and the inclusion of age 21/22 Millennials with a comparatively low percent of avoiding style. However, in the cross-temporal same-age comparisons, Millennials are more likely than Generation Xers to accommodate and avoid, confirming the qualitative findings. Looking at gender, while males across all three generations are more likely than their female cohort members to compete, Millennial females are more likely to compete compared to Generation X or Baby Boomer females. Further, looking at Millennial and Generation X males at age 33/34, Generation X males are more likely to compete and Millennials males are more likely to accommodate. This paper further explores Millennials’ diversity, political and social engagement, and social media use, which have implications for the broader society and political environment. This research fills an important gap in the research on generational cohorts and conflict management.

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