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How People Are Socialized in corporations

management, business, organization, organizational culture, socialization, organizational socialization

Most of the available writing about organizational socialization assumes that a newcomer's adjustment to an organization is directly affected by early learning experiences in it and the organization's attempts at socialization. It seems fairly clear, however, that the individual differences people bring to organizations and the attributions they make about those organizations also influence newcomer adjustment.

As in all aspects of life, the new situations that newcomers encounter provide uncertainty. The strategies they adopt to deal with this uncertainty and the way they make sense of the situations depend on how they have learned to deal with new situations. Newcomers who perceive themselves as personally competent and have the need to grow will interpret such situations differently than do people who see themselves as less able and who want to settle into a comfortable niche. Then, too, the attributions newcomers make of their new situations probably differ from those old-timers make of these same situations. These attributions are also dependent on the history of the newcomer. When newcomers and old-timers perceive the same situation differently, socialization becomes more difficult. Specific interactions among newcomers and insiders may be an important but overlooked influence on the socialization process. Two major aspects of socialization are learning and modeling leaders.

Socialization includes several phases. The first, anticipatory socialization, encompasses the learning that occurs before a new member joins an organization and involves a recruiting process that attempts to select individuals who exhibit some fit with the organizational culture. The second phase of socialization is encounter, in which the new member sees what the organization is really like and changes some of his values and attitudes. This phase includes exposure of the new recruit to both task-related and group-related concerns. The socialization that takes place at Hamburger University is part of this phase.

The third phase of socialization is change and acquisition, a relatively long-lasting phase in which new recruits truly master the skills and roles required for their new jobs. A McDonald's franchise owner who begins to apply the principles learned at Hamburger University is in the midst of this part of the process.
The following seven-step process depicts what goes on in organizations with strong cultures:
1. Selection. Trained recruiters carefully select entry-level candidates.
2. Abandonment of past. Experiences that give the new recruit humility break down the hold of past assumptions and traits, making the recruit ready to accept the organization's norms.
3. Training. On-the-job training helps the recruit master tasks, with mastery rewarded by promotion.
4. Monitoring and reward. Performance is monitored closely, and the reward system is geared toward reinforcing the values of the culture.
5. Identification. Employees begin to identify with the organization's values, thus making them able to justify any personal sacrifices required.
6. Reinforcement. Organizational legends reinforce the culture and goals.
7. Role models. Successful members of the organization provide role models for others.

Published: 2007-04-22
Author: Martin Hahn

About the author or the publisher
Martin Hahn PhD has received his education and degrees in Europe in organizational/industrial sociology. He grew up in South-East Asia and moved to Europe to get his tertiary education and gain experience in the fields of scientific research, radio journalism, and management consulting.

After living in Europe for 12 years, he moved to South-East again and has worked for the last 12 years as a management consultant, university lecturer, corporate trainer, and international school administrator

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