02 SES 03 B, Transitions: Becoming and Being
On her or his first day in the training-company, an apprentice does not have any organizational, task and domain specific knowledge. Through vocational education and training, apprentices will step-by-step be educated, instructed and trained to become eventually professionals in their domain. After transition from compulsory school (lower secondary level) to a company-based apprenticeship (upper secondary level), it is important that he new apprentices get socially integrated and accepted by the members of the organization. A positive social integration is important for at least two reasons. First, it helps to reduce ambiguities and uncertainties, as newcomers often feel like “strangers in a strange land” (Heckhausen & Tomasik, 2002; Saks & Gruman, 2012). These uncertainties can be overcome by rapidly adapting to the new situation by becoming socially accepted by, and integrated within, the other members of the organization (Kammeyer-Mueller, Wanberg, Rubenstein, & Song, 2013; Louis, 1980; van Vianen & De Pater, 2012).
Second, a positive social integration helps the apprentices also to gain access to the resources needed for successful socialization and learning in the organization. Only if the members of the organization are willing to accept and integrate the newcomer, then they will also start to share knowledge, skills and their work experiences with the newcomer by introducing her or him into the “strange land.” This, social integration becomes a prerequisite for gaining access to organizational resources (Kammeyer-Mueller & Wanberg, 2003) (Bauer & Erdogan, 2012) and eventually become a full member of the community of practice (Wenger, 2008). Apprentices have no domain specific experiences to adjust to the new situation. All they have is their school-based experience and the social support of their new colleagues (Korte, 2010).
In this paper, we are first going to discuss the importance of social processes during organizational entry and the organizational socialization of inexperienced newcomers by investigating how two indicators of social integration, namely the apprentice-trainer relationship and work group integration, develop over time. Second, we will present results on how an individuals’ reliability, the perceived person-occupation fit and organizational resources predict the level and development of the social integration within the first months on the new job. Based on the longitudinal data available for this study, we can model the level and change of the social integration and add to the discussion on the dynamics of the socialization process within the first months in a new job.
Several hypotheses were tested. (1) We hypothesize that the apprentices assess the level of apprentice-trainer relationship and of work group integration to be the highest in the first month after organizational entry. We expect a decrease in the level of the apprentice-trainer relationship and work group integration over time, as the apprentice get to now the organization and their members better. (2) We hypothesize that the students’ reliability will have a positive effect on the level of and development of the apprentice-trainer relationship, and on the level and development of work group integration. And finally, (3) we hypothesize that the students’ perceived pre-entry person-occupation fit will have a positive effect on the level and development of the apprentice-trainer relationship and the level of and development of work group integration.
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