Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

School of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Karla Hunter


communication, Generation Z, grounded theory, motivaiton, organization


Organizations must develop human capital to remain competitive in today’s economic landscape (Crook, Todd, Combs, Woehr, & Ketchen, 2011; Noe, 2017). Motivation is one aspect of human capital development that organizational research has difficulty understanding (Kovach, 1980), and given the recent introduction of Generation Z into the workforce (Ferri-Reed, 2016), this thesis seeks to understand the process of organizational motivation for Generation Z from a communication perspective. By applying grounded theory methods to 13 interviews, I illustrate several exploratory relationships within an emergent framework to describe the process of motivation for Generation Z participants. Primarily, subjects demonstrate that through the use of task and personal communication, they are able to connect work to values and personal identity in order to achieve motivation within organizations. Additionally, I discuss my process of analysis, implications for research, theoretical, and practical applications, study limitations, and future directions for research.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Personnel management.
Generation Z -- Employment.
Employee motivation.
Grounded theory.
Communication in personnel management.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright