Organizational Socialization

Subject: Organizational Management
Pages: 6
Words: 1726
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD


Every organization would want to have a cohesive team that occupies different positions in the organization’s structure. Individuals who are new to the organization expect that they are recruited and assisted in inculcating the values and cultural norms as well as the expectations of the organization (Champoux, 2006). It is significant for all organizations to appreciate the fact that their ability to capture and retain a talented workforce highly depends on the perceived attractiveness of their traditions. Modern organizations absorb people who are convinced that they can comfortably adopt the culture of the organization and be able to build competitive capabilities. Once they are taken into the organization’s system, individuals will be continually socialized to be fully integrated into the organization (Sharma, 1998). The paper discusses the three major stages of organizational socialization and how they are related to each other. It also explains what socialization processes take place within each of the stages.

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The Three Stages

The modern society is preoccupied with wages, salaries, and dividends with minimal regard for other important purposes that it ought to serve in the form of ensuring the satisfaction of individual needs, companionship, and the development of human personality. Organizations, therefore, should have a clear socialization program for the newcomers as well as for the existing employees. This ensures proper integration into the organization’s culture. The model program that has been developed is motivated by the Human Resource Development philosophy advocated by McGregor in 1960;

“Every human being has immense inherent potential and is willing to contribute his best and he gets best of satisfaction in doing so.” (Sharma, 1998, 73-75)

The process of recruiting newcomers into the organization spans from the time when a prospective employee contemplates joining the organization to the point of entry and subsequent interactions as an employee (Champoux, 2006). The adaptive interaction is intra-personal and inter-personal. The three stages of organizational socialization are discussed below.

Choice: Anticipatory Socialization

The first stage in organizational socialization is the choice: Anticipatory socialization. It is also known as the “Getting In” stage because it takes place before one becomes a member of or is promoted to another position in the organization he or she served initially. This is the stage that prepares the prospective employee or individual before assuming the new status. It is therefore one of the most crucial stages because it sets the first impression for the newcomer.

Organizational experts have realized that individuals who are interested in joining an organization have their predispositions about the particular organization. Even though the person is yet to join the organization, what happens at this anticipatory stage is the person’s idea of the organization’s cultural norms and values (Baum, 1990). This is the period during which an individual develops his or her beliefs, attitudes, and expectations concerning the organization. The person starts contemplating how it will feel to be part of the organization’s membership at whatever capacity. In most cases, this stage involves a lot of prediction and imagination of the anticipated situation be it a new position or as a newcomer in an organization.

Both the individual as well as the organization in question experience two crucial issues at this particular stage. Realism is one of the most important issues. The organization is concerned about the ideas that they think the newcomer has about their institution. They wonder whether those ideas and beliefs about their culture are realistic or not. The organization is weighing the prospective employee’s suitability to the needs or requirements of the job in the organization. At this stage of socialization, the organization is also displaying itself and what they offer for prospective employees (Champoux, 2006). They would like the newcomers to have the right image of their operations as well as their cultural norms. On the other hand, the persons start forming their expectations concerning the organization concerning how the organization presents itself.

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The major concern in this stage for the potential employees is whether that representation reflects the reality in the organization and this makes them have some reservations about their attitudes and beliefs about the organization. Moreover, the individual may seek to gather prior information about the organization from their website, annual publications, press accounts, or interviewing the already employed individuals (Champoux, 2006). On the other hand, the organization may exploit various channels to socialize the prospective employee. This can be achieved through recruitment advertising, specific company recruiter, offering internship opportunities to an individual, or other screening and selection instruments (Baum, 1990). Considering all that happens at the anticipatory socialization stage, one can be sure that there can be congruence or lack of as far the organization and the individual is concerned. The contrasting opinions, however, are subject to change and this can occur during the second stage.

The Encounter Stage

The second organizational socialization stage is referred to as entry or encounter. It is characteristically known as the “Breaking In” stage. Here, it is assumed that the individual has already secured a position or a new job in the organization. The newcomer, therefore, moves across the boundary that separates the organization from the external world (Champoux, 2006). This boundary is the perimeter within which the organization can conduct its operations. At this stage, the newcomer starts proving the accuracy of the beliefs and expectations that were formed just before joining the organization. Here, the new employee encounters or enters the real life of the organization.

The reaction exhibited by the newcomer depends mainly on the type of beliefs and attitudes that had been formed about the organization. If the individual had high positive expectations about the organization, then he or she will very willing to undergo this second socialization process by the organization (Champoux, 2006). The new employee will seek to learn more internal affairs of the organization, especially from the persons already working in the organization. Within a very short time, the positively motivated individual will form a network of social relations from whom to gather information as well as actively explore other alternative sources of information about the information. The primary objective for this activity by the individual is the desire to minimize the sense of uncertainty (Baum, 1990). In the process of the encounter stage of socialization, the newcomer will acquaint him or herself with the specified roles as well as be inculcated in the cultural norms of the organization, and so on.

It is at this stage of socializing an individual that the organization wants to redefine the person and give him or her a new image befitting the expected roles. Here, beliefs, attitudes, and general ideas about the organization are completely realigned according to the new responsibilities. The degree of change, however, may vary from one organization to another. A new employee who was not highly motivated to join the organization will find it difficult to adjust to the demands of the organization. Very few organizations will tolerate new employees who take time to learn the culture of the organization and may end up being fired from their new jobs or positions of responsibility.

Change: Metamorphosis Stage

The third stage of organizational socialization is called Change: Metamorphosis. Most organizational experts refer to it as the “Setting In” stage. This stage follows smoothly from the previous stage. The manifestations of change in individuals after undergoing the first two socialization processes are quite monumental and notable (Sharma, 1998).

A newcomer who manages to go through the requirements of the preceding stages of socialization starts feeling comfortable and an integral part of the organization as he or she executes the new responsibilities or duties. At this stage, the individual has already embraced the defining characteristics and cultural norms of the organization. The new employee has been integrated into the team of fellow workers and feels accepted in the group (Champoux, 2006). This stage is characterized by decreased job anxiety and increased confidence in oneself.

Some organizations prefer to mark the end of the second stage of socialization with particular rituals and rites of passage which mark the entry into the metamorphosis stage. Graduation ceremonies at virtually all universities and passing out ceremonies for military training can be cited as good examples of these rituals. Usually, newcomers who fail to adapt to the demands of the organization during the second stage will most definitely not it through the third stage. Instead, he or she will be rebellious and dismiss all the assigned roles and responsibilities. This kind of outcome is normally referred to as socialization failure.

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These three stages are closely related in that the outcome of one-stage directly influences the following stage. These stages are characterized by their unique experiences and are quite useful both for the newcomer and the organization management (Champoux, 2006). The main objective of the stages is to ensure that the socialization process helps the organization in achieving its goals.

The paper has discussed the three major stages of organizational socialization and how they are related to each other. It has also explained what socialization processes take place within each of the stages. The first has been identified as the anticipatory stage which starts before an individual becomes an employee of the organization. It is characterized by the prospective employee’s speculation of what the culture, working conditions, and the general reality of life in the organization could be. The organization, on the other hand, seeks to influence the newcomer’s perception by supplying the information which it thinks will be of use. The second stage discussed above is the encounter socialization stage which happens once the new employee officially joins the organization. This stage can also be referred to as the “confirmatory” stage because the newcomer will be comparing what he or she thought about the organization and what it is. The stage is important because it determines the survival of the new employee depending on the level of motivation at the point of entry into the organization. The last stage is the metamorphosis stage which is closely related to the second stage. Some organizations fail to distinguish between the two. From an analysis of the three stages, it can be concluded that the organizational socialization process is crucial in the recruitment of new employees or personnel into new positions in an organization. This is because the process ensures mutual coexistence in the organization and hence optimum efficiency of all components in any given organization.


Baum, H. S. (1990). Organizational socialization: personal development in the organization. SUNY Press

Champoux, J. E. (2006). Organizational behavior: Integrating individuals, groups, and organizations (3rd ed). Miami, OH: Thomson/South-Western

Sharma, B. (1998). Understanding Organizational Socialization: Beyond Fitting New Employees into the Existing Culture. Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, 34 (1), p. 73