Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Effective Socialization of Employees: Socialization Content Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Effective Socialization of Employees: Socialization Content Perspective

Article excerpt

Organizational socialization is the process through which organizational culture is perpetuated, by which newcomers learn the appropriate roles and behaviors to become effective and participating members (Louis, 1990). The topic has been discussed from various perspectives including socialization stages (e.g., Feldman, 1976, 1981; Wanous, 1992), socialization tactics (Van Maanen and Schein, 1979), person-situation interactionism (Jones, 1983), newcomer sense making (Louis, 1980), symbolic interactionism (Reichers, 1987), and stress (Nelson, 1987).

Despite the large amount of research on organizational socialization, considerably less attention has been given to the socialization content and its use in evaluating the success of the socialization process, raising four research questions: (1) "What" information is transmitted during organizational socialization (socialization content)?, (2) "How" is the information transmitted (socialization tactics)?, (3) How do you evaluate whether the information was acquired successfully by the newcomers and/or transmitted successfully by the organization (socialization effectiveness)?, and (4) What is the relationship between effective socialization and behavioral and attitudinal outcomes? The first and second research questions are addressed in relation to the third research question - socialization effectiveness - which is the main focus of this study.

No empirical study to our knowledge has examined socialization effectiveness. Theoretical papers have associated effective socialization with the achievement of individual and organizational outcomes (Schein, 1978), but their relationship has not been investigated empirically. Although more recent studies are beginning to focus on socialization content (Morrison, 1993, 1995; Ostroff and Kozlowski, 1992, 1993; Chao et al., 1994), only Chao et al. (1994) have specifically developed some measures for the construct. Socialization tactics (Jones, 1986) have not been studied in relation to socialization content and socialization effectiveness. In general, empirical research in organizational socialization is sparse and fragmented (Bauer and Green, 1994; Chao et al., 1994; Fisher, 1986).

The two major gaps identified in the literature are: (1) there is a lack of empirical studies evaluating socialization effectiveness based on the socialization content (Fisher, 1986), and (2) the relationship between socialization tactics and socialization effectiveness has not been examined empirically (Chao et al., 1994). The present study addresses these gaps and utilizes a relevant set of criteria - task mastery, work group functioning, knowledge and acceptance of culture, personal learning, and role clarity - based on the socialization content to evaluate socialization effectiveness. It examines empirically the relationship between socialization tactics and socialization effectiveness.

The purpose of this article is twofold. First, it extends prior studies in organizational socialization by developing a comprehensive measure of the effectiveness of the socialization process that matches the conceptual definition of organizational socialization. Secondly, it contributes to empirical research in the socialization literature by examining the relationship between socialization tactics and dimensions of socialization effectiveness. The remainder of this article is organized as follows: the theoretical background, hypothesis development, method, results, discussion and conclusions.


Effective Socialization

Effective socialization has been discussed in the literature (e.g., Feldman, 1980, 1981; Schein, 1978) and it has been used interchangeably with other related constructs, such as effective adaptation (Louis, 1980). Other researchers view it more narrowly as a change in basic attitudes and beliefs that suggest an internal commitment to the organization, rather than just compliance with organization practices. …

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