Sal Villegas

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business

First Advisor

Paul Shelton

Second Advisor

Justine Haigh

Third Advisor

Jasper LiCalzi


The use of professional reciprocity exchanges for economic prosperity has been a mainstay in American business culture within social networks such as associations, community organizations, etc. (Putnam, 2000). Participation in these organizations has declined over the past several decades, as new generations have declined embrace these stalwarts of social networking (Putnam, 2000). As the generational demographics of the American workforce have over time, it is now of great importance to identify if there are generational differences regarding the sentiment of reciprocity (Kolm, 1994) among professionals. This quantitative study uses a multi-part question from German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) study to identify if generational identify influences either positive (rewarding) or negative (punishing) reciprocity. This study found that positive reciprocity is not correlated to generational cohort, meaning that regardless of age professionals willfully reciprocate in mutually beneficial manner. This finding affirms past literature that reciprocity is a personal norm (Gouldner, 1960). Additionally, positive reciprocity is shown to be influenced by educational level. Alternatively, negative reciprocity is significantly correlated & influenced by generational cohort, industry type, experience level, and gender. Among generations, Baby Boomers and Millennial show the greatest contrast in negative reciprocity, with Millennials more willing to engage in punishing unkind behavior than their predecessors. These findings add to the theoretical body of knowledge with the creation of the Reciprocal Influencers Model, while informing practice in the areas of business, generational dynamics, and management.