32 SES 08 B, Transition in Organizations (Workplace and Training System)
A recent Ph.D. thesis explores newcomer innovation related to organizational entry (Revsbaek, 2014). The study challenges the prevailing assumption in many standardized organizational induction programs that consider newcomers as insecure novices in need of being “taught the ropes” of the organizational culture.
Although acknowledging that organizational socialization is about continuity and change in the employing organization (Van Maanen & Schein, 1979), and realizing that the entry of newcomers holds the potential for innovation to the employing organization (Feldman, 2012), the discourse in research on organizational socialization largely heralds the raison d’être of organizational socialization as preserving the culture of the organization from one generation of employees to the next. “Much of the work on organizational socialization still reflects a narrow social perspective: perhaps because of their focus on newcomers, researchers have emphasized how workers adapt to organizations, rather than the reverse” (Moreland, Levine & McMinn, 2001:88). Due to increased job mobility in todays labor markets, organizational newcomers are increasingly more “sophisticated”, that is, more work experienced than the average novice newcomer that is assumed in best practice on employee induction and in the majority of research on organizational socialization (Daskalaki, 2012).
Articulating innovation in relation to the organizational entry of newcomers is still a minority perspective in the research on organizational socialization although an increasing number of studies highlight the innovation potential of organizational entry processes (for example Daskalaki, 2012; Sprogoee & Elkjaer, 2010; Revsbaek, 2014). Furthermore, when the innovation potential of newcomer entry is articulated, it is often done so in terms of the newcomer disrupting a stable organizational operation, implying a stability of that which the newcomers enter.
“Firms can use the entry of newcomers to ‘unfreeze’ the workgroup, that is, as an opportunity to rethink work processes, patterns of social interaction, and even the group’s core values and beliefs” (Feldman, 2012:215).
Thus, the “workgroup”, “work processes”, “patterns of social interaction” and “core values” are considered stable units of analysis, which entries of organizational newcomers might affect. This gives rise to a dichotomy of newcomer assimilation versus organizational accommodation to organize much of the research on organizational socialization and innovation.
The case study presented in this paper investigates organizational entry in a changing organization raising the question of how to understand organizational socialization and newcomer innovation when the cultural coherence and stability is shattered, in flux, changing. The case organization is a global Danish production company and the case study entries take place in company support functions in departments of HR, Legal and Supply Change Management.
Theoretical approach: The study introduces process philosophy to research on organizational socialization and is the first to approach the organizational entry dynamics between newcomers and veterans from a complexity theory perspective of complex responsive processes (Stacey, 2010) among others drawing on G. H. Mead’s pragmatic social behaviorism (1934).
Alvesson, M. & Kärreman, D. (2011). Qualitative Research and Theory Development. Mystery as Method. London: Sage. Daskalaki, M. (2012) Recontextualizing new employee induction: Organizational entry as a change space. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 48(1), 93-114. doi: 10.1177/0021886310395899 Feldman, D.C. (2012). The impact of socializing newcomers on insiders. In C.R. Wanberg (Ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Socialization (pp. 215-229). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Mead, G.H. (1934). Mind, Self, and Society. From the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist. C.W. Morris (Ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Moreland, R.L., Levine J.M., & McMinn, J.G. (2001). Self-categorization and work-group socialization. In M.A. Hogg & D.J. Terry (Eds), Social Identity Processes in Organizational Contexts (pp. 87-100). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group, Psychology Press. Revsbaek, L. (2014). Adjusting to the emergent: A process theory perspective on organizational socialization and newcomer innovation. Aalborg, DK: Aalborg University Press. Revsbaek, L. & Tanggaard, L. (2015). Analyzing in the Present. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(4), 376-387. Sprogoee, J. & Elkjaer, B. (2010). Induction – organizational renewal and the maintenance of status quo, Society and Business Review, 5(2), 130-143. Doi: 10.1108/17465681011055550 Stacey, R.D. (2010). Complexity and Organizational Reality. Uncertainty and the Need to Rethink Management after the Collapse of Investment Capitalism, 2nd Ed. Oxon, UK: Routledge. Van Maanen, J. & Schein, E.H. (1979). Toward a theory of organizational socialization. In B.M. Staw (Ed.), Research in Organizational Behavior, (vol.1, pp. 209-264). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
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