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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №3 - 2009

Авторы: Бухрякова М.В., Астафьева Александра Геннадьевна

Young adults face unique challenges as they begin their work lives. Economic, social, and psychological values have shifted in our country as well as in many Western countries because more young adults delay careers and marriage in order to develop their own individuality. Cote (3) describes how many European and American young adults wrestle with their own individuality in a world that has lost faith in government, religion, and business organizations. Many of these young adults are not pressured to begin their careers and are able to live with their parents as they continue to gain different experiences in order to identify their central life interests. This perspective centers on themselves and many try on several jobs as they begin their careers.

It concerns the Kazakh-American Free University as well because we can observe that the average age of its teachers has been decreasing significantly. The administration of the KAFU is interested in attracting young teachers who are looking for their place in life. In this case both sides gain. Thus, young specialists can find a field interesting for them that gives a possibility to be significant for the society. As for the KAFU, it gets exuberant and creative personnel. It follows from this, that the KAFU administration should help their new employees to start working effectively from the very beginning. So, the process of socialization is very important for young employees because mostly it is their first working experience.

Organizational socialization is a process of work adjustment that affects how long an individual remains employed with the organization. It describes how people learn to fit into a new organization or job. It is a process by which an individual learns appropriate attitudes, behaviors and knowledge associated with a particular role in an organization (2). The general theory asserts that people who are well socialized into an organization are more likely to stay and develop their careers with that organization. This is a critical process for individuals pursuing successful careers and for organizations building effective workforces. However, for many new and established employees, the fit between themselves and their organizations is better described as a misfit. Annually, about 2 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in Kazakhstan. This figure does not include retirements, deaths, or disability reasons for quitting, and most of these people will try again to look for new jobs and satisfying careers. Building a competent workforce, one where people believe they fit in well with their organizations, is often viewed as a competitive edge in today’s business. For organizations, a competent and committed workforce minimizes costly turnover and selection expenses. Moreover, individual employee attributes associated with successful organizational socialization can accumulate across the organization to positively effect organizational performance and effectiveness. Organizational socialization is a primary process to facilitate work adjustment for new employees or for employees taking on new roles.

For individuals, a good fit within the organization can lead to several positive benefits. People who are well socialized are more committed to their organizations, more satisfied with their jobs, and earn more than people who don’t learn to fit in with their organizations. Furthermore, people who are well socialized are less likely to quit their jobs and more likely to build successful careers within the organization. The extent to which both organizational and individual socialization processes support a good person-organization fit will define the extent to which that individual has been successfully socialized.

When an individual begins a job at a new organization, that person may already have some expectations of what the job and organization will be like. Some of these expectations may be realistic (e.g., I will work with students), whereas other expectations may be unrealistic (e.g., Administration will adopt all my suggestions). Furthermore, as the individual begins work, early experiences will meet some expectations (e.g., I expected to teach the students and I teach them) but other expectations will not be met (e.g., I did not expect some of the students to be difficult to work with). Many newcomers experience reality shock when their expectations are unmet, regardless of how unrealistic those expectations may be. Newcomers who experience these surprises would try to make sense of them (7). Based on their own predispositions and past experiences, and based on how others within and outside the organization interpret these surprises, the sense making process can help a newcomer resolve unmet expectations. Individuals whose sense making complements the organization are more likely to stay with that organization (e.g. Administration did not adopt my suggestion because they saw problems I didn’t foresee). Individuals whose sense making attaches negative attributes to the organization are more likely to quit their jobs (e.g., Administration did not adopt my suggestion because they are close-minded and short-sided).

There are several stage models of organizational socialization; each describes evolving experiences of newcomers as they adjust to a new job. Most of these models describe three basic stages beginning with anticipatory socialization, entry-encounter experiences, and ending with change and mutual acceptance (9). The anticipatory socialization stage describes how early job or organization expectations are shaped as a person selects and prepares for a particular career. Career choices are often based on rough ideas or expectations of what that career will be like. For example, a person’s family, teachers, and friends might share their experiences and influence an individual to choose a career in teaching. Preparation for this career might include a university’s masters of teaching some majors. Faculty and fellow students can further shape this person’s initial job expectations even before the person has applied for a job. Furthermore, managers and recruiters can help a job candidate form specific expectations about an organization and the candidate’s role within that organization. The extent to which these expectations are met on the job will define the amount of adjustment required to successfully fit into the organization.

The second stage of socialization typically includes early learning and adjustments after organizational entry. The newcomer learns how to do the job as well as how to fit into the organization’s culture. This learning stage includes the sense making process that helps the newcomer reconcile unmet expectations and surprises. Organizations should conduct formal orientation and training programs to help newcomers learn how work is conducted in the organization. In addition, informal learning occurs on the job as the newcomer observes and solicits information from superiors, peers, and subordinates. These informal lessons may reinforce formal organizational procedures (e.g., A colleague reminds you to be on time for your department meeting) or they may introduce informally acceptable behaviors that are not sanctioned by the organization (e.g., A coworker tells you that it’s OK to let the students go earlier if you need to leave).

The final stage of socialization generally recognizes successful adjustment as an organizational newcomer is transformed into an organizational insider. Insiders have “learned the ropes” to fit in and can serve as valuable resources of information for future newcomers. Organizations may hold initiation ceremonies or rites of passage to signify that a newcomer is no longer a rookie or recruit, but a full-fledge member of the organization. Although most of the research on organizational socialization centers on newcomers, some studies recognize that insiders can learn more about their own roles as they socialize newcomers or as newcomers precipitate shifts in role expectations for insiders.

Research in organizational socialization has failed to support any particular stage model (1). Although stage approaches provide rich descriptions of the transformation from organizational newcomer to insider status, they ignore many organizational factors and situational contexts that may unintentionally influence the socialization process and they ignore personal characteristics of individuals who are adjusting to a new job and work environment. Thus, stage models can help describe what newcomers experience, but they do not offer any specific interventions to help newcomers to be successfully socialized into their organizations.

Current research has focused on the individual perspective examining information seeking by newcomers as they attempt to comprehend the organization and its defining characteristics. This research has examined what newcomers attempt to learn (content) and how they attempt to learn it (process). In addition, some research has sought to go beyond information acquisition to understand how informal, insider processes influence newcomer socialization. For example, much of the information seeking research has focused on active newcomer efforts to ask questions and inquire of insiders. However, active efforts by supervisors and coworkers to socialize newcomers are relatively more important to adjustment than newcomer proaction (8). Positive work relationships with supervisors and peers reduce negative effects of unmet expectations on job satisfaction and other traditional indicators of socialization effectiveness.

The research literature on information seeking and successful socialization is mixed. Some studies support a positive link with findings that show information seeking reduces uncertainty about the newcomer’s job/organization, which in turn, helps build the newcomer’s competence and self-efficacy. Conversely, other studies found negative links between information seeking and newcomer socialization when there are social costs if a newcomer is constantly asking questions, or if feedback is not positive. Thus, information seeking may backfire on newcomers who ask too many questions because insiders may perceive them as incompetent, intrusive, or meddlesome. Finally, there may be no link between information seeking and socialization if the information is not related to adjustment and/or the newcomer cannot use the information to facilitate his or her work adjustment.

The organizational socialization process is complex because it involves actions taken by both the newcomer and the organization, and lessons learned may be intentional or unintentional. Newcomers will go through a socialization process, regardless of what the organization may do or not do; thus good human resource management would prescribe some planning to guide employee adjustment to the job and organization. Transparent human resource practices that support the organization’s mission and values are more likely to help employees make sense of their roles in the organization than management practices that conflict with or confuse employees. For example, mentors can provide an informal, personal socialization process when senior members tutor junior members and groom them for successful careers within the organization. Although this mentoring may be informal, managers and supervisors who are likely to be mentors can be trained to provide positive socialization experiences for their newcomers.

The socialization process is not entirely controlled by the organization; nor is it entirely controlled by the individual. The mix of formal organizational interventions (e.g., orientation program) and informal interventions (e.g., a mentor) may not provide compatible lessons, thus rendering the sense making process complex. Furthermore, an individual’s acquisition of knowledge does not always occur at a conscious level. A newcomer’s learning may be implicit – knowledge gained from observations and experiences but without a concerted, conscious awareness that one has learned anything. The first day on a new job is often one of information overload for the newcomer. Explicit lessons (e.g., a supervisor explains the workload to a newcomer) and implicit lessons (e.g., a newcomer feels uncomfortable around a particular supervisor) merge to help the newcomer determine if he or she fits with the organization. The tacit knowledge gained from implicit learning serves as a base for a newcomer’s sense of intuition. This intuition could influence subsequent attitudes and behavior. Thus, a newcomer may not be able to articulate why he or she feels uncomfortable about a supervisor, but that feeling may signal potential problems as the socialization process develops.

There are several models of socialization content describing what a newcomer learns during the adjustment process. Chao, O’Leary-Kelly, Wolf, Klein, and Gardner (2) developed six content areas for organizational socialization and developed scales to research learning in these areas: Performance proficiency, language, people, politics, organizational goals and values, and history. Performance proficiency involves learning to perform a job successfully. Language involves learning special acronyms and terminology used by the organization. The people dimension includes learning to get along with other organizational members. Politics involves learning formal and informal power structures. Organizational goals and values involve understanding the organization’s culture. Finally, history involves learning about the organization’s past as well as the specific history associated with the newcomer’s department. Organizational newcomers generally scored lower on these dimensions than organizational insiders. Furthermore, people who were better socialized, tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, more involved in their careers, and earned more income than people who were less well socialized. Perhaps most interesting is the finding that people who don’t perceive themselves to fit with the organization’s goals and values are most likely to quit their jobs and change organizations. Regardless of how people learn in these content areas, mastery was associated with greater socialization and greater socialization was associated with positive job and career outcomes.

Other content areas involve personal learning (e.g., learning more about one’s own desires and needs), role management (e.g., learning how to manage work and personal lives), and specific organizational interventions (e.g., training received) (3).

Organizational socialization occurs whether the individual or organization manages it or not. Organizations can facilitate this process by building a strong organizational culture that provides consistent lessons to newcomers using both formal and informal methods. A strong culture describes clear values and expectations shared by most organizational members. This base of common knowledge, attitudes and behaviors will maximize the likelihood that a newcomer will receive similar instruction from most organizational members. Thus, coworkers can reinforce what was learned in a formal training program, by serving as good role models for the newcomer. If an organization does not have a strong positive culture, or if the culture is not endorsed by top management, the potential for conflicting lessons increases and the confusing experiences make adjustment more difficult for a newcomer. In this case, organizations should carefully manage the socialization process by designing appropriate orientation/training programs for newcomers, matching newcomers with appropriate role models and mentors, and monitoring the socialization process to correct misunderstandings or to help newcomers make sense of their early experiences. However, no amount of organizational intervention can socialize newcomers to be radically different from current insiders unless factors supporting new organizational roles and values are promoted to all employees.

In addition to culture-related socialization interventions, organizations can help their employees adjust to their jobs by providing adequate training and resources to help employees maximize their job performance. Company manuals can help newcomers learn important organizational information (e.g., tables of a workload for teachers). Employee handbooks can shape newcomer expectations and identify behaviors and customs of insiders that the organization would like to promote. Finally, performance feedback can give newcomers a sense of how the organization perceives the person-organization fit and provide guidance to improve the fit, if warranted.

Individuals should also be proactive managers of the socialization process. By astute observations, selective information seeking, and positive responses to organizational demands, individuals can better determine if the type of person desired by the organization is the type of person the newcomer wants to be. Newcomers should adhere to the organization’s dress code and be sensitive to behaviors that are judged to be acceptable or unacceptable by management. Newcomers should also learn organizational jargon and acronyms quickly in order to avoid calling attention to themselves as “outsiders,” naive to insider language. Finally, newcomers with exceptional job performance may be identified as having high potential in the organization with great value for long-term career success.

Both short- and long-term career goals can help determine whether the person-organization fit is good enough for the newcomer. Individuals should also recognize the need for resocialization when jobs, assignments, and work groups change (5).

Thus, both organization and a newcomer should strive for an effective process of socialization as it seems to be a crucial point at the beginning of a career of a new employee that will show him or his if he or she is capable of work in a chosen organization.


1. Bauer T.M, Morrison E.W, Callister R.R. Organizational socialization: A review and directions for future research.

2. Research in Personnel and Human Resource Management, 1998.

3. Chao G.T, O'Leary–Kelly A.M, Wolf S, Klein H.J, Gardner P.D. Organizational socialization: Its content and consequences.

4. Academy of Management Review, 2006.

5. Chao G.T, Eli Broad. The role of socialization in the organizational entry process.

6. Michigan State University, 2005

7. Cote J. Arrested adulthood: The changing nature of maturity and identity.

К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №3 - 2009

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