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Organizational socialization and knowledge integration of newcomers: The role of anticipated tenure

Melissa Sue Cardon, 2001
Faculty Advisor: Ruth Wageman


Organizational socialization is assumed to be a vitally important influence on job satisfaction, organizational commitment, innovation, cooperation, and ultimately organizational performance (Fisher, 1986). There is a fundamental assumption underlying virtually all existing work on organizational socialization that all newcomers will remain with an organization for some time. The research presented here begins to relax some of the assumptions underlying current models of socialization where the organization and the new recruit are going concerns. Instead, I begin pursuing a model of socialization that more accurately reflects the current and evolving nature of individual relationships with organizations by specifically focusing on the knowledge integration and accommodation processes of newcomers with varying levels of anticipated tenure with their organizations. I present a model of socialization of newcomers that incorporates those that are purposefully in organizations for short time frames as well as those entering long-term employment, including both explicitly contingent and explicitly permanent recruits. Findings here suggest that workers are quite distinct in how long they expect to stay with a firm, regardless of their explicit labor contract, and that this variance in anticipated tenure does make a difference in the extent to which these newcomers learn and adapt to their organizations, their jobs, and their social environments, and in the outcomes they experience. The five most influential inputs on the socialization process (job characteristics, role definition, organizational tactics, prior experience, and social involvement) each interact with anticipated tenure in predicting at least one socialization outcome (performance, satisfaction, affective commitment, acceptance, and mutual influence). Findings also suggest that performance comes from task accommodation, satisfaction from social accommodation, and mutual influence from organizational accommodation. This dissertation provides clear empirical support that how long newcomers expect to maintain a relationship with their new organizations has a profound impact on their socialization experiences, and explores the nuances of the impact of this anticipated tenure alone and in interaction with other factors on the socialization process and its outcomes.

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