Organizational Socialization and Positive Essay
Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences Revue canadienne des sciences de l’administration 28: 14–26 (2011) Published online 7 September 2010 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary. com). DOI: 10. 1002/CJAS. 169 Organizational Socialization and Positive Organizational Behaviour: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice Alan M. Saks* University of Toronto Jamie A. Gruman University of Guelph Abstract The purpose of this paper is to advocate a shift in research and practice on organizational socialization towards one based on positive organizational behaviour (POB).
First, we demonstrate how the prevailing perspectives of organizational socialization are based on a cognitive-learning process that emphasizes information and knowledge acquisition. We then review the literature on POB and psychological capital (PsyCap) and argue that socialization processes should be designed to develop the PsyCap of newcomers. We offer a new approach to organizational socialization called socialization resources theory (SRT) and describe four broad socialization resources that can be used to develop newcomers’ self-ef? cacy, hope, optimism, and resilience.
Finally, we discuss the implications of this approach for research and practice on organizational socialization. Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. JEL Classi? cation: D23 Resume Le but de cet article est de preconiser que l’on passe d’une recherche et d’une pratique axee sur la socialisation organisationnelle vers une recherche fondee sur le comportement organisationnel positif (POB). Nous commencons par montrer que les perspectives dominantes de socialisation organisationnelle sont fondees sur un processus d’apprentissage cognitif qui met l’accent sur l’information et l’acquisition des connaissances.
Nous passons ensuite en revue les publications anterieures sur le POB et le capital psychologique (PsyCap) et soutenons que les processus de socialisation devraient etre concus pour developper le PsyCap des nouveaux venus. Nous proposons une nouvelle approche a la socialisation organisationnelle appele la Theorie des ressources de socialisation (SRT) et decrivons quatre ressources de socialisation qui peuvent etre utilisees pour cultiver l’auto-ef? cacite, l’espoir, l’optimisme et la resilience de nouveaux venus. En? nous discutons des implications de cette approche pour la recherche de socialisation et la pratique. Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Mots-cles : socialisation, accueil et integration, nouveaux employes, POB. Capital psychologique Keywords: socialization, on-boarding, newcomer, POB, psychological capital Organizational socialization “is the process by which an individual comes to appreciate the values, abilities, expected behaviors, and social knowledge essential for assuming an organizational role and for participating as an organizational member” (Louis, 1980, pp. 29–230). During the socialization process, newcomers acquire information and knowledge about their jobs, roles, work groups, *Please address correspondence to: Alan M. Saks, Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University of Toronto, 121 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 2E8. Email: [email protected] utoronto. ca and the organization that is necessary for them to participate and function as successful members of their organization (Haueter, Macan, & Winter, 2003; Morrison, 1993a).
As described by Ashforth, Sluss, and Harrison (2007), socialization is important because it enables newcomers to discover what the organization is about, why it is important, and their place within in it; it facilitates work adjustment; and it can in? uence the long-term success and the career of newcomers. Organizational socialization is also one of the primary ways that an organization’s culture is transmitted Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 14 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011) ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR
SAKS & GRUMAN and maintained and it can have a lasting effect on employees’ attitudes and behaviours (Bauer, Morrison, & Callister, 1998). Given the increased mobility of the workforce over the last decade, organizational socialization has become more important than ever. According to Bauer, Bodner, Erdogan, Truxillo, and Tucker (2007), “new employee socialization or ‘onboarding’ is a key issue for organizations and newcomers alike as individuals undergo socialization more often in their careers and organizations deal with newcomers more often because of elastic personnel needs” (p. 07). In addition, given the increasing concerns about labour shortages as well as employee engagement and retention, socialization has become an important component of the management and retention of talent. Although there has been a dramatic increase in organizational socialization research over the past decade, it has been dominated by cognitive models that emphasize information and learning. Ashforth, Sluss, and Harrison (2007) described “making sense of the new situation and learning the expected capabilities” as the heart of socialization (p. 1). We believe that the emphasis of socialization research on information and learning is too narrow given the current challenges facing employees and organizations. Organizations today are facing an array of challenges like never before—global competition, new technology, economic uncertainty and a volatile economy, labour shortages, internal restructuring, and the recruitment and retention of talent. As a result, new hires need to be able to work and prosper in organizations facing enormous pressures and dif? culties.
Today’s fast-paced and competitive environment means that socialization programs have to do more than provide newcomers with abundant information (Rollag, Parise, & Cross, 2005). We offer a new approach to organizational socialization that will prepare new hires for the challenges facing organizations today. Along these lines, we consider a positive organizational behaviour (POB) perspective of organizational socialization and try to answer the question, “What would organizational socialization look like through the lens of POB? We believe that considering socialization from the perspective of POB can provide a richer and broader approach to organizational socialization theory, research, and practice. In this paper we review current perspectives of organizational socialization followed by a discussion of POB and psychological capital (PsyCap) and its relevance for organizational socialization. We then present a new approach to organizational socialization that we call socialization resources theory (SRT), which describes how socialization resources can be used to develop newcomers’ psychological capital.
The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of this approach for socialization research and practice. Current Perspectives of Organizational Socialization Organizational socialization has been viewed primarily as a cognitive-learning process that involves information and knowledge acquisition. Early reviews of organizational socialization described it primarily as a learning process (Fisher, 1986) and the most recent review described learning as the “heart of socialization” (Ashforth, Sluss, & Harrison, 2007).
Thus, the prevailing perspective of organizational socialization has not changed much over the last 25 years. One of the earliest examples of the information approach to organizational socialization is research on unrealistic expectations and realistic job previews. According to stage models of socialization, when newcomers enter organizations they often ? nd that their expectations are not met and they experience a reality shock (Ashforth, Sluss, & Harrison, 2007).
The primary focus of this approach to socialization is to provide applicants with accurate information in the form of a realistic job preview prior to organizational entry. According to Louis (1980), newcomers have much more to contend with than unmet expectations. She described organizational entry as a sensemaking process in which newcomers make sense of the changes, contrasts, and surprises they encounter in new and unfamiliar organizational settings. The sensemaking model focuses on the cognitive processes that newcomers need to employ as a means of coping with surprise and novelty.
Sensemaking is a cognitive process in which newcomers interpret and impute meanings to surprises through interactions with insiders, attributions, and the alteration of cognitive scripts. As noted by Louis, this requires information for “amending internal cognitive maps and for attaching meaning to such surprises as may arise during early job experiences” so that newcomers develop accurate internal maps of the organizational setting (p. 244). Thus, sensemaking involves processing information provided to and obtained by newcomers (Ashforth, Sluss, & Harrison, 2007).
On the basis of this perspective, “socialization practices should be developed that help provide newcomers with insiders’ situation-speci? c interpretations and setting-speci? c interpretive schemes” (Louis, 1980, p. 248). Socialization has often been conceived as a process of uncertainty reduction. Uncertainty reduction theory holds that, “newcomers desire to increase the predictability of interactions between themselves and others within the new organization” (Bauer et al. , 2007, p. 708). Bauer et al. 2007) used uncertainty reduction as a theoretical basis for their model of newcomer information seeking and organizational socialization tactics. Similarly, Saks, Uggerslev, and Fassina (2007) used uncertainty reduction theory as the basis for their mediation model of socialization tactics and newcomer adjustment, arguing “the theoretical and conceptual underpinning of socialization tactics is that they provide Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 15 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011)
ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR SAKS & GRUMAN newcomers with information that can reduce their uncertainty surrounding the entry process” (p. 418). Uncertainty reduction theory is also the basis for research on newcomer information seeking and proactivity (Miller & Jablin, 1991; Morrison, 1993a, 1993b). One of the best-developed theoretical models of organizational socialization is Van Maanen and Schein’s (1979) typology of socialization tactics (Ashforth & Saks, 1996). Van Maanen and Schein de? ed socialization tactics as “the ways in which the experiences of individuals in transition from one role to another are structured for them by others in the organization” (p. 230). In their theory of organizational socialization, Van Maanen and Schein (1979) identi? ed six tactical dimensions and described how they in? uence whether a newcomer adopts a custodial, content-innovative, or role-innovative orientation. Jones (1986) argued that Van Maanen and Schein’s six tactics form a gestalt called institutionalized socialization (collective, formal, sequential, ? ed, serial, and investiture tactics), while the opposite end of each tactic forms a gestalt called individualized socialization (individual, informal, random, variable, disjunctive, and divestiture tactics). In effect, what socialization tactics do is shape the information that newcomers receive (Jones, 1986). Institutionalized tactics provide newcomers with information that reduces the uncertainty inherent in early work experiences and re? ects a more structured and formalized socialization process. Individualized socialization re? cts an absence of information and structure such that newcomers are socialized more by default than design. The theoretical and conceptual underpinning of socialization tactics is that they provide newcomers with information that can reduce their uncertainty surrounding the entry process (Jones, 1986). Indeed, it has been argued that, “the major reason ? rms use institutionalized tactics is to remove some of the uncertainty of a new environment by offering information that guides employees’ behaviours” (Kim, Cable, & Kim, 2005, p. 35). One of the most important developments in the socialization literature in the past 20 years has been a focus on how newcomers can be actively involved in their own socialization through proactive behaviours to obtain information. A fundamental characteristic of this research is recognition of the role of information and what newcomers can do to obtain the information they require (Morrison, 1993a, 1993b) as well as the need for newcomers to seek and obtain information in an effort to reduce uncertainty (Miller & Jablin, 1991).
Morrison (1993a, 1993b) found that newcomers used monitoring more frequently than inquiry, they used different modes and sources of information seeking for different types of information, and the frequency of information seeking was related to proximal and distal socialization outcomes. As described by Ashforth, Sluss, and Harrison (2007), “research on newcomer proactivity explores the means by which newcomers actively seek information about their work environment and their role and performance within it as a means of reducing uncertainty” (p. 22).
Research on newcomer proactivity has found that individual differences and contextual variables predict proactive behaviour, and proactivity is related to proximal and distal socialization outcomes (Ashforth, Sluss, & Harrison, 2007). Related to the acquisition of information has been research on what newcomers’ learn and the development of measures of learning content. Chao, O’Leary-Kelly, Wolf, Klein, and Gardner (1994) developed a measure of socialization learning that consists of six dimensions (performance pro? ciency, people, politics, language, organizational goals and values, and history).
More recently, Haueter et al. (2003) developed and validated a content measure of organizational socialization called the Newcomer Socialization Questionnaire (NSQ). The scale measures three dimensions of newcomer socialization (the organization, group, and the job/task), and was designed to address the shortcomings and concerns of the Chao et al. (1994) scale. As noted by Haueter et al. , “each component consists of acquiring knowledge about the dimension and acquiring knowledge about appropriate role behaviours associated with the dimension” (p. 3). At the core of this approach is research that treats learning as a key proximal outcome of socialization. A number of studies have shown that socialization processes such as orientation training, socialization tactics, mentoring, and proactive behaviours are related to socialization learning, which mediates the relationship between socialization processes and adjustment (Allen, McManus, & Russell, 1999; Ashforth, Sluss, & Saks, 2007; Cooper-Thomas & Anderson, 2002; Klein & Weaver, 2000).
So pervasive is this approach to socialization that Ashforth, Sluss, and Harrision (2007) argued that learning is central to the socialization process: For socialization to effectively bring the newcomer into the fold, the newcomer should come to know and understand (i. e. , learn) the norms, values, tasks, and roles that typify group and organizational membership. As such, newcomer learning lies at the heart of any organizational socialization model (p. 16). In summary, the prevailing perspective of organizational socialization has evolved around the newcomers’ ability to acquire and assimilate knowledge and information in order to lower uncertainty and to learn. This perspective of organizational socialization is shown in Saks and Ashforth’s (1997) multilevel process model of organizational socialization in which cognitive sensemaking via information, uncertainty reduction, and learning intervenes between socialization factors and socialization outcomes. As described by Saks and Ashforth, “the focus of the model is information and learning which is consistent with recent research showing that organizational socialization is primarily a learning process” (p. 38). Similarly, Ashforth, Sluss, Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 16 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011) ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR SAKS & GRUMAN and Harrision’s (2007) integrative model also places socialization content/learning as a mediating variable between socialization processes and newcomer adjustment. According to the authors, “content appears to offer tremendous potential as the major linchpin between socialization processes and short- and long-term newcomer adjustment” (p. 1). Furthermore, the evidence suggests that most organizations use an informational approach to orienting new hires and that managers view the on-boarding process primarily as a means of providing newcomers with information (Rollag et al. , 2005). While learning is undoubtedly an important and essential part of the socialization process and has, in fact, driven much of the socialization research to date, we believe that a new focus is required given the demands and challenges facing employees and organizations today.
When viewed as a cognitive-learning process, the focus of on-boarding and socialization programs is the provision of information and opportunities to acquire information. However, given the increasing emphasis on talent management, employee engagement, and employee retention combined with labour shortages and increasing competition, we believe that the on-boarding-socialization process must involve much more than information and learning. In the following sections, we discuss a new approach to organizational socialization based on the emerging literature and research on positive organizational behaviour (POB).
Positive Organizational Behaviour Positive organizational behaviour (POB) has been de? ned as “the study and application of positively oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement in today’s workplace” (Luthans, 2002a, p. 59). The focus of POB is on positive state-like capacities that are relatively malleable and thus amenable to change. Four state-like capacities are the focus of POB theory and research: self-ef? cacy, hope, optimism, and resilience.
Luthans and his associates have synthesized the four states into a multidimensional, higher-order construct known as psychological capital or PsyCap (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007). Self-Ef? cacy Based on original work by Bandura (1997), Luthans de? ned self-ef? cacy as “an individual’s conviction (or con? dence) about his or her abilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to successfully execute a speci? c task within a given context” (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998, p. 66). The focus in POB is on state self-ef? acy, which is malleable, unlike general ef? cacy, which is trait-like (Luthans, 2002b). Self-ef? cacy is positively associated with a number of work-related perfor- mance outcomes including creativity, learning, entrepreneurship, and leadership (Luthans & Youssef, 2007). In a recent meta-analysis, Bauer et al. (2007) reported that socialization tactics, but not information seeking, were positively related to self-ef? cacy, and that self-ef? cacy was related to several adjustment outcomes. Gruman, Saks, and Zweig (2006) found that newcomers with higher selfef? acy engaged in proactive behaviours more frequently and also found that self-ef? cacy was related to both proximal (e. g. social integration) and distal (e. g. job satisfaction) socialization outcomes. Hope Snyder, Rand, and Sigmon (2005) de? ned hope as the belief that people can discover pathways to their goals (pathways thinking) and ? nd the motivation to use the pathways (agentic thinking). Conceptually similar to selfef? cacy, hope is distinguished by the equal importance placed on two forms of thinking (Luthans, 2002a) and the fact that self-ef? cacy concerns situation-speci? goals whereas hope includes cross-situational goals (Snyder et al. , 2005). Although hope has trait-like characteristics, it is also state-like in that it is connected to the ongoing events people experience (Snyder, Sympson, Ybasco, Borders, Babyak, & Higgins, 1996). Luthans and Jensen (2002) cited research demonstrating a relationship between hope and pro? tability, retention, and higher levels of employee commitment and satisfaction. Optimism Optimism refers to having positive outcome expectancies and/or making positive attributions for events (Luthans, 2002a).
Optimists expect good things to happen to them (Carver & Scheier, 2005) and when they experience bad events, they make external, speci? c, and unstable attributions (Buchanan & Seligman, 1995). Because optimism can lead to meaningless pursuits or unrealistic goals, and because in some circumstances mild pessimism can be advantageous, the focus of POB is on realistic and ? exible optimism (Luthans, 2002a). Optimism differs from hope in that optimism does not address pathways thinking, and includes expectancies about outcomes achieved via forces outside one’s self (Luthans & Jensen, 2002; Luthans & Youssef, 2007).
Employee optimism is associated with leadership style (DeHoogh & Den Hartog, 2008) and is positively related to organizational outcomes including employee retention (Seligman & Shulman, 1986) and sales performance (Corr & Gray, 1996). Resilience Resilience involves maintaining positive adjustment, coping successfully, and bouncing back when facing chal- Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 17 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011) ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR SAKS & GRUMAN enging conditions, including those involving positive change (Luthans, 2002b; Luthans & Youssef, 2007). Luthans and Youssef (2007) noted that in POB the conceptualization of resilience includes a proactive, discrepancy-creationdimension, and focuses on the adaptive use of assets to address risks and on the interplay between the risks one faces and one’s repertoire of assets. In their review of the research on resilience, Sutcliffe and Vogus (2003) suggested that resilience is derived from at least two foundational elements: adequate resources and an active mastery motivation system.
Masten and Reed (2005) suggested that resilience can be promoted by preventing or reducing risks (risk-focused strategies), improving the number or quality of resources or social capital (asset-focused strategies), or mobilizing human adaptational systems (process focused strategies). Through a process of training, knowledge development, role modelling, and recovering from mistakes, a sense of competence develops, which allows individuals to better cope with novel or challenging situations and persevere when confronted with dif? ulties (Sutcliffe & Vogus, 2003). In summary, we believe that PsyCap and the four constructs that comprise it represent important proximal outcomes of organizational socialization that are highly relevant for newcomers and are in fact antecedents of traditional socialization outcomes. In the next section, we describe a new approach to organizational socialization based on POB. Organizational Socialization and Positive Organizational Behaviour POB provides a new and exciting approach to organizational socialization in terms of theory, research, and practice.
Firstly, PsyCap is positively related to work outcomes that have long been considered traditional evaluative criteria of organizational socialization practices such as job performance, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment (Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007). Secondly, there have been calls to study the more proximal outcomes of socialization that may mediate socialization effects on more distal work related outcomes (Ashforth, Sluss, & Harrision, 2007; Bauer et al. , 1998). Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, ach of the PsyCap constructs contribute positively to one’s psychological well-being and therefore merit study for that reason alone (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2009). But how can socialization programs best be designed to develop newcomers’ PsyCap? As described below, the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model provides a theoretical basis for developing a socialization theory for building each of the PsyCap constructs. Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) Model According to the JD-R model, the work environment can be divided into demands and resources.
Job demands refer to physical, psychological, social, or organizational features of a job that require sustained physical and/or psychological effort from an employee that can result in physiological and/or psychological costs. Common job demands include work overload, job insecurity, role ambiguity, and role con? ict. Job resources refer to physical, psychological, social, or organizational features of a job that are functional in that they help achieve work goals, reduce job demands, and stimulate personal growth, learning, and development.
Job resources can come from the organization (e. g. , pay, career opportunties, job security), interpersonal and social relations (supervisor and coworker support, team climate), the organization of work (e. g. , role clarity, participation in decision making), and from the task itself (e. g. , skill variety, task identify, task signi? cance, automonmy, performance feedback) (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). The basic premise of the JD-R model is that high job demands exhaust employees’ physical and mental resources and lead to health problems and a depletion of energy.
Job PsyCap Development and Work Outcomes Luthans, Avey, Avolio, Norman, and Combs (2006) reported the results of three studies demonstrating that short, micro-interventions have been effective in building PsyCap in management students and practicing managers by up to three percent. More recently, Luthans, Avey, and Patera (2008) demonstrated that a two-hour, web-based training intervention was successful in building PsyCap among a cross section of working adults.
PsyCap of employees relates positively to work outcomes such as supervisory ratings of performance (Luthans, Avey, Clapp-Smith, & Li, 2008). Clapp-Smith, Vogelgesang, and Avey (2009) found that PsyCap of sales agents related to sales-growth performance, mediated by trust in management. Moreover, CEO PsyCap (excluding the selfef? cacy component) has been shown to relate positively to ? rm performance, mediated by transformational leadership (Peterson, Walumbwa, Byron, & Myrowitz, 2009).
PsyCap is also positively associated with organizational citizenship behaviour (Gooty, Gavin, Johnson, Frazier, & Snow, 2009), job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and has been shown to fully mediate the relationship between supportive organizational climate and performance (Luthans, Norman, Avoilo, & Avey, 2008). Additionally, overall PsyCap appears to have a more consistent relationship with performance and job satisfaction than do the individual variables of which it is composed (Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007).
As noted by Luthans, Youssef, and Avolio (2007), the impact of overall PsyCap on work outcomes is likely greater than its individual components. Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 18 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011) ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR SAKS & GRUMAN resources are motivational and can lead to positive attitudes, behaviour, and well-being (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007).
The motivational potential of job resources can be intrinsic because they facilitate growth, learning, and development, or extrinsic because they are instrumental for achieving work goals (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Job resources are also important because they help individuals cope with job demands and buffer the effect of job demands on job strain (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Research on the JD-R model has found support for the links between job resources and positive outcomes as well as between job demands and negative outcomes.
In particular, job demands are positively related to burnout and health problems while job resources positively predict work engagement, extra-role performance, and organizational commitment (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). In addition, some research links job resources and job demands to personal resources, which “are aspects of the self that are generally linked to resilience and refer to individual’s sense of their ability to control and impact upon their environment successfully” (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2007, p. 24), and which include two of the constructs that comprise PsyCap, self-ef? cacy, and optimism as well as organization-based self-esteem (Pierce, Gardner, Cummings, & Dunham, 1989). According to Xanthopoulou et al. (2009), personal resources parallel the concept of psychological capital and have been found to mediate the relationship between job resources (autonomy, social support, supervisory coaching, and opportunities for professional development) and work engagement and exhaustion (Xanthopoulou et al. 2007). Within the framework of the JD-R model, socialization programs can be helpful to developing PsyCap and in this sense equip new hires with the resources that will serve them well in adapting to job and organizational demands. In the next section, we describe resources potentially offered during socialization that could be instrumental to develop- ing self-ef? cacy, optimism, hope, and resilience. We refer to this approach as socialization resources theory (SRT).
Our discussion of SRT focuses on the development of the individual constructs that comprise PsyCap, which is consistent with prior work (e. g. , Luthans et al. , 2006; Luthans, Avey, & Patera, 2008). However, in-line with Luthans, Youssef, and Avolio’s (2007) suggestion that PsyCap may be greater than the sum of its constituent parts, we suggest that the individual constructs operate synergistically and that overall PsyCap may demonstrate the strongest relationship with socialization outcomes.
Socialization Resources Theory (SRT) Figure 1 presents a model of socialization resources (i. e. , orientation training, task characteristics, social support, and leadership), PsyCap, and socialization outcomes. It shows that socialization resources nourish the four constituent components of PsyCap, and that PsyCap partially mediates the in? uence of socialization resources on socialization outcomes. Table 1 presents a summary of the processes through which socialization resources can promote the development of the four PsyCap components.
Orientation training Formal orientation training programs are considered to be the main socialization process for many newcomers (Saks & Ashforth, 1997). According to Klein and Weaver (2000), “orientation programs are a form of employee training designed to introduce new employees to their job, the people they will be working with, and the larger organization” (p. 48). Most organizations provide new hires with some form of formal orientation training (Wanous & Reichers, 2000).
Although orientation training programs are positively associated with desired socialization outcomes (Klein Figure 1. A model of socialization resources, psychological capital, and socialization outcomes Socialization Resources 1. Orientation training 2. Task characteristics 3. Social support 4. Leadership Psychological Capital 1. Self-efficacy 2. Hope 3. Optimism 4. Resilience Socialization Outcomes 1. Job satisfaction 2. Organizational commitment 3. Turnover 4. Job performance Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 19 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011)
ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR SAKS & GRUMAN Table 1 Processes through which Socialization Resources Promote the Four Constructs Comprising Psychological Capital (PsyCap) Socialization Resource Orientation and training Process Practice, feedback, role modeling Practice, feedback role modeling, ROPES principles ROPES principles Skill variety, task identity, task signi? cance, autonomy, feedback Feedback, autonomy skill variety, task identity, task signi? cance, feedback Role modeling, persuasion, social in? ence, mentoring, encouragement Achieving work goals, mentoring, Making realistic attributions, mentoring Overcoming setbacks, mentoring Goal setting, social support, Pygmalion leadership style PsyCap Self-ef? cacy Hope, optimism Resilience Self-ef? cacy Hope, resilience optimism Self-ef? cacy Hope Optimism Resilience Self-ef? cacy, hope, optimism, resilience Task characteristics Social support Leadership & Weaver, 2000; Saks, 1995), they tend to focus solely or primarily on imparting information (Wanous & Reichers, 2000).
For example, orientation programs typically introduce new employees to their job, the people they will be working with, health and safety issues, terms and conditions of employment, and the organization itself (Klein & Weaver, 2000; Wanous & Reichers, 2000). That is, they provide newcomers with lots of information (Klein & Weaver, 2000). Orientation training programs that contain features known to enhance self-ef? cacy (mastery experiences, vicarious learning, social persuasion, and physiological arousal; Bandura, 1986) are likely to be most effective in strengthening the self-ef? acy of new hires. Accordingly, socialization programs should offer opportunities for practice followed by feedback and should involve role models and observational learning. Programs designed along these lines are likely to be effective in developing newcomers’ self-ef? cacy and to the extent that they increase newcomers’ beliefs about their potential for success and the achievement of their work and career goals, training might also aid in the development of hope and optimism.
Orientation training programs should also be designed according to the principles of realistic orientation programs for new employee stress (ROPES). According to Wanous and Reichers (2000), ROPES are designed to teach coping skills for the most important stressors that newcomers will encounter. The basic principles for the design of ROPES are: (a) inclusion of realistic information that forewarns newcomers about typical disappointments to expect and possible adjustment problems, as well as how to cope by setting goals and taking ction; (b) provision of general support and reassurance; (c) use of the behaviour modelling method of training (use models to show coping skills, discuss the model’s actions, include behavioural rehearsal with feedback); (d) teaching self-control of thoughts and feelings; and (e) targeting speci? c stressors to speci? c newcomers. ROPES seems especially promising for developing the resilience of newcomers who will be equipped with emotion-focused and problem-focused coping skills that will enable them to recover from dif? culties and setbacks.
Because ROPES teaches newcomers coping skills for the major stressors they will encounter, it will also be effective for buffering the effects of job demands and stressors and might also aid in developing hope and optimism to the extent that it facilitates the pursuit and achievement of ones’ goals. Task Characteristics A number of task characteristics from Hackman and Oldham’s (1980) job characteristics model such as skills variety, task identity, task signi? cance, autonomy, and performance feedback have been shown to be important job resources in research on the JD-R model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007).
Several studies have found that autonomy/job control and performance feedback are related to positive work outcomes (Bakker, Demerouti, & Veerbeke, 2004; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). In the socialization literature, Katz (1980) noted that while task signi? cance and feedback are especially important for newcomers during the ? rst three or four months, by six months all of the job characteristics are important at least in terms of satisfaction and performance. Colarelli, Dean, and Konstans (1987) found autonomy and feedback were Copyright © 2010 ASAC.
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 20 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011) ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR SAKS & GRUMAN positively related to job attitudes and behaviours in a sample of newly-hired entry-level accountants, and Feldman and Weitz (1990) found that job design characteristics were positively related to summer interns’ job attitudes. Job characteristics might also in? uence the development of newcomers’ self-ef? cacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. For example, feedback can strengthen newcomers’ self-ef? acy through encouragement and social persuasion; it can develop hope by providing information about how well one is meeting goals and facilitating the achievement of those goals (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007); it can help newcomers make realistic attributions about their performance, which helps develop optimism; and it can help newcomers improve weaknesses and develop resilience. Furthermore, skill variety, task identity, task signi? cance, and autonomy can facilitate the development of selfef? cacy by enhancing newcomers’ sense of performance mastery.
Autonomy might facilitate the development of hope and resilience by enabling newcomers to develop their own methods and approaches for achieving their goals and resolving dif? culties and setbacks. Skill variety, task identity, and task signi? cance might facilitate the development of optimism to the extent that newcomers can attribute the successful completion of important tasks to themselves. However, Katz (1978, 1980) found that newcomers’ receptivity to each of the job characteristics varies according to the stage of socialization. It is possible then that the in? ence of job characteristics on the constructs comprising PsyCap might vary during the ? rst six months of entry. At any rate, the content and nature of the tasks assigned to newcomers during their ? rst six months is very likely to have implications for the development of their self-ef? cacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Social Support Organizational insiders play a key role in the socialization of newcomers not only for the information they provide (see Ostroff & Kozlowski, 1992), but also as a main source of social support (Bauer et al. , 1998).
The importance of social support and interpersonal interactions with insiders has long been considered a critical factor in the socialization of newcomers (Fisher, 1985; Katz, 1980). In fact, some have gone so far as to argue that interactions between newcomers and insiders represent “the primary vehicle through which initial socialization occurs” (Reichers, 1987, p. 278). A study on the availability and helpfulness of socialization practices found that the three most important socialization aids reported by new hires were interaction with peers, supervisor, and senior coworkers (Louis, Posner, & Powell, 1983).
Fisher (1985) found that social support from coworkers and supervisors reduced the level of unmet-expectations- stress of newly hired nurses and predicted several adjustment outcomes. As well, positive relationships between newcomers and insiders are associated with a number of socialization outcomes (Bauer et al. , 1998). Similarly, research on socialization tactics has found that the social tactics are the strongest predictors of newcomer adjustment (Saks et al. , 2007). Chatman (1991) found that attending ? rm-sponsored social events was positively related to person-organization ? and Rollag et al. (2005) found that the development of a broad network of relationships with coworkers is a key factor for the rapid adjustment of newcomers. Social support has also been identi? ed as a job resource at the interpersonal and social relations level in the JD-R model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Research on the JD-R model has found that social support from one’s supervisor and coworkers is related to a number of positive work outcomes and negatively related to disengagement and burnout (Bakker et al. , 2004; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004).
Supervisor support also buffers the negative effects of job demands (Bakker et al. , 2007). The relationships newcomers develop at work provide them with resources such as emotional support, advice, and help (Baker & Dutton, 2007), which can promote all of the constructs comprising PsyCap. For example, a supportive supervisor and coworkers are important sources of selfef? cacy enhancing information. They function as role models, provide encouragement and positive feedback, and can help the newcomer cope with work demands and mitigate anxiety and stress.
Social support is also functional for achieving work goals and can aid in the development of hope (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Supportive colleagues can also develop newcomers’ resilience by helping the newcomer overcome setbacks and dif? culties, and supportive supervisors and coworkers can help newcomers make realistic attributions that ensure the newcomer remains optimistic. Many studies have shown that social support in the form of mentoring is related to positive outcomes among proteges.
Ragins (2007) suggested that as a high-quality connection, mentoring can promote the four dimensions of PsyCap. Along these lines, meta-analyses demonstrate that mentoring is associated with individuals’ perception of promotion opportunities (Underhill, 2006) and the belief that they will advance in their careers (Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz, & Lima, 2004)—outcomes representing hope, optimism, and self-ef? cacy. In summary, social support is probably the most important socialization resource for the development of PsyCap and consistently relates positively to newcomer adjustment.
Therefore, insiders must be made aware of their important role in supporting new hires, and organizations should design socialization programs to create opportunities for new hires to meet insiders and build relationships as soon as they enter the organization. Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 21 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011) ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR SAKS & GRUMAN Leadership Although management and leadership can be considered distinct processes, they can also be viewed as complementary roles required of effective managers (Yukl & Lepsinger, 2005).
Therefore, we treated leadership and management as complementary and used these terms interchangeably. However, we recognized that leadership can be demonstrated by people other than those occupying formal managerial positions. Thus, although the resources discussed below will typically be provided by newcomers’ managers, they may also be provided by nonmanagerial employees demonstrating informal leadership. Leaders or the managers of newcomers are especially important for the successful socialization of newcomers.
For example, Bauer and Green (1998) found that manager behaviour predicted newcomer role clarity, performance ef? cacy, and feelings of acceptance. Kammeyer-Mueller and Wanberg (2003) found that leader in? uence predicted newcomers’ political knowledge and turnover. Leaders might also play a critical role in helping newcomers develop each of the four constructs that comprise PsyCap. In particular, it has been suggested that authentic leadership can promote the development of the four state-like capacities (Norman, Luthans, & Luthans, 2005).
Additionally, leaders provide newcomers with resources that are important for the development of PsyCap. As indicated in the previous section, one of the most important resources that leaders provide for newcomers is social support. They are also a main source of information for developing newcomers’ self-ef? cacy by modelling appropriate behaviour and providing encouragement and positive feedback. Leaders can promote the development of the other constructs comprising PsyCap by providing assignments that include job characteristics (e. g. , autonomy, skill variety).
Leaders can help newcomers set realistic goals and develop strategies for goal achievement. A focus on mastery or learning goals seems especially important because they focus on enhancing task competence and provide a framework for interpreting and responding to task-related events. As a result, they have the capacity to develop self-ef? cacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Proximal goals are also important because they focus attention on appropriate strategies, provide clear markers of one’s progress, result in more immediate feedback, develop self-ef? acy, and provide “small wins” (Latham & Seijts, 1999). Newcomers will be able to develop strategies for attaining their goals and will be able to receive feedback and experience success sooner and more frequently. Thus, instructing newcomers to set learning and proximal goals can lead to the development of self-ef? cacy, hope, and optimism. Another way in which leaders can promote newcomers’ PsyCap is through the Pygmalion effect, which is a special case of the self-ful? lling prophecy (Merton, 1948). One anifestation of the Pygmalion effect occurs when a leader’s expectation of subordinate performance generates subordinate behaviour that con? rms the leader’s expectation. Leaders can harness this effect through implementation of the Pygmalion Leadership Style (PLS), which refers to an array of behaviours used by managers who have high performance expectations of subordinates (Eden et al. , 2000). These high performance expectations generate greater motivation and performance among followers (Eden, 1984).
Inducing high levels of performance is likely to have direct effects on newcomers’ self-expectancies and self-ef? cacy (Eden, 1984; Eden et al. , 2000). Given that PLS involves attributing subordinate success to internal, stable causes (Eden et al. , 2000), this form of leadership should increase optimism among newcomers. Inducing a high level of performance among newcomers is also likely to promote hope by con? rming the utility of pathways and agentic thinking that newcomers employ in pursuit of their work goals. Finally, the supportive interpersonal climate that characterizes PLS (Eden et al. 2000), which includes coaching in the face of setbacks, should promote newcomer resilience. Discussion Summary A common criticism of the socialization literature over the past 20 years is that it is fragmented and suffers from a lack of integration (Bauer et al. , 2007; Fisher, 1986; Saks & Ashforth, 1997). In this paper, we have used POB to offer a new approach to organizational socialization research and practice. One of the bene? ts of POB is that it provides a means for greater integration and less fragmentation of socialization research.
Further, a focus on the four state-like capacities that form PsyCap is consistent with calls for socialization research to focus on proximal or primary indicators of adjustment (Ashforth, Sluss, & Harrison, 2007; Bauer et al. , 1998). The approach we have described in this paper provides many new directions for socialization practice and research that focus on the relationship and effects of socialization resources on the four constructs that comprise PsyCap. Contributions to Scholarship The approach we have described in this paper integrates the research and literature on POB, the JD-R model, selfef? acy theory, and organizational socialization. This approach, which we have termed socialization resources theory (SRT), offers researchers and practitioners a new way to think about socialization as well as a new approach for orienting and socializing newcomers. Firstly, it suggests a new set of proximal outcomes to consider in addition to information and learning outcomes. The constructs comprising PsyCap are in and of themselves Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 22 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011)
ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR SAKS & GRUMAN highly relevant for new hires beginning a new job, entering a new organization, and/or starting a new career. They also serve as proximal socialization outcomes that have been found to predict more traditional-secondary socialization outcomes. Secondly, this approach incorporates many of the most important socialization processes (e. g. , task characteristics, orientation training, social support, socialization agents) into a coherent framework and links them to the four constructs comprising PsyCap.
Thirdly, SRT suggests potential relationships and provides guidance for developing traditional socialization outcomes through socialization resources and the constructs comprising PsyCap. Socialization resources theory also extends the literature on POB to a new domain—that of organizational socialization. Although the focus of the POB and PsyCap literature has been on employees in general, it seems especially critical to focus on PsyCap development during the entry-socialization process given the potential long-term effects on individuals and organizations.
Not only do positive psychological resource capacities appear amenable to development through intervention, there is conceptual and empirical support for the idea that such development may be exponential. The development of targeted positive capacities may engender other capacities through what are variously termed gain spirals (Hobfoll, 2001) or upward spirals (Fredrickson, 2001). As described by Hobfoll (2001), because the loss of resources is stressful, and because other resources must be spent to counteract additional resource loss, once losses begin to occur people become increasingly vulnerable to further loss.
Conversely, people who possess resources, such as positive psychological resource capacities, are more capable of orchestrating resource gains, and such gains fuel further gains. Simply put, resources tend to spawn other resources. This helps to explain why resources tend to occur in clusters or resource caravans (Hobfoll, 2001). In her work on the adaptive value of positive emotions, Fredrickson (2001) explains this mutual reinforcement of resources in terms of the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.
The theory posits that positive emotions broaden people’s transient thought-action repertoires and help to build durable personal resources such as resilience, which in turn foster increased positive emotions (Fredrickson, 2001). Given the potential of socialization to in? uence newcomers’ emotions (Ashforth & Saks, 2002), it seems worthwhile to extend the POB literature and the development of PsyCap to newcomers and the socialization process. Applied Implications The approach to organizational socialization described in this paper provides managers and organizations a new way to think about the on-boarding and socialization of new hires.
That is, rather than thinking about what new hires need to know and overwhelming them with information, they should think about what they can do to develop new- comers’ self-ef? cacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Organizations might begin by conducting a socialization resource audit to identify the extent to which their on-boardingsocialization programs incorporate the resources to develop newcomers’ PsyCap. This might lead to changes in orientation training programs, the tasks and jobs that newcomers are assigned, the amount and type of social support available for newcomers, and the actions and involvement of supervisors.
Socialization resources theory suggests that organizations should design orientation training programs that provide newcomers with realistic information about possible disappointments as well as how to cope with them, offer general support and reassurance, use behaviour modelling to demonstrate coping skills, include opportunities for rehearsal with feedback, educate newcomers on how to control their thoughts and feelings; and target speci? c stressors for particular newcomers.
In terms of social support, there are many things managers and organizations can do to facilitate interactions and relationship building with insiders. Rollag et al. (2005) described several strategies such as providing opportunities for socializing, planning introductions, networking assignments that require newcomers to work with and build relationships with a variety of insiders, and assigning a buddy to newcomers. In addition, supervisors and coworkers should be trained on how to provide social support to newcomers and the important role they play in developing newcomers’ self-ef? cacy, hope, optimism, and resilience.
These strategies are likely to help newcomers develop a network of relationships with insiders who can become important sources of social support that will aid in the development of newcomers’ PsyCap. The early work assignments of newcomers should be carefully designed to ensure that they provide suf? cient levels of the core job characteristics, especially feedback and task signi? cance in the ? rst few months followed with increasing amounts of skill variety, task identity, and autonomy (Katz, 1980). What newcomers do, learn, and achieve in their ? rst three to six months is likely to have a profound effect on their self-ef? acy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Finally, supervisors should be aware of how they can develop newcomers’ PsyCap and the effect of their expectations on new hires. Supervisors should instruct newcomers on how to set proximal goals for learning and goal accomplishment. High expectations for newcomers and the achievement of dif? cult goals build an early foundation of positive state-like capacities that can have positive exponential effects. Limitations and Future Research Directions The approach to organizational socialization that we have described in this paper opens up many new avenues Copyright © 2010 ASAC.
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 23 Can J Adm Sci 28(1), 14–26 (2011) ORGANIZATIONAL SOCIALIZATION AND POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR SAKS & GRUMAN for socialization research and the study of relationships that have seldom, if ever, been examined. For starters, socialization research might test the relationships between different socialization resources and each of the constructs comprising PsyCap. Although we have described four broad dimensions of socialization resources, there are many possible ways to operationalize each of them. For example, research on social support might investigate support from various insiders (e. . , supervisors, other newcomers, senior coworkers, etc. ) as well as the effects of mentors and assigned buddies on the four constructs comprising PsyCap. It would also be worthwhile to investigate various factors associated with social support such as the quantity, quality, and type of support. For example, Kammeyer-Mueller and Judge (2008) summarized evidence that mentoring that focuses on career issues versus psychosocial issues produces different effects on protege career outcomes, but did not examine outcomes involving the constructs comprising PsyCap.
Research on task characteristics might examine the extent to which each of the job characteristics relates to the four constructs comprising PsyCap. Future research might examine the relationships between socialization resources, PsyCap, and socialization outcomes as depicted in Figure 1. Thus, future research might examine the relationships between various socialization resources and each PsyCap construct as well as relationships between the PsyCap constructs and socialization outcomes.
In addition, as suggested by our model, future research might examine the extent to which the constructs comprising PsyCap mediate the relationship between socialization resources and socialization outcomes. Finally, experimental research might test the effects of socialization resource interventions. As indicated earlier, several studies have begun to test the effects of training interventions on PsyCap. Along these lines, socialization research might test the effects of orientation training programs on PsyCap. Orientation programs designed according to ROPES seem especially likely to in? ence newcomers’ PsyCap. Conclusion In conclusion, we have argued that the literature on organizational socialization is out of touch with an increasingly turbulent and competitive business environment in which the management of talent and the development and value of human and psychological capital have become the most critical factors for organizational success and survival. Given the ever-increasing frequency and importance of newcomer on-boarding and socialization, on-boarding and socialization can no longer simply involve providing newcomers with large amounts of information.
It must involve the identi? cation of resources that new hires need in order to develop their self-ef? cacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Such an approach will no doubt prove much more bene? cial for newcomers and organizations than the more traditional informational approach that emphasizes knowledge acquisition and learning.