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A conceptual model of newcomers’ relationship building process in early organizational socialization

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Social networks’ role during a newcomers’ organizational entry has shown to be an important consider however few studies have explored its role (Fang, Duffy, & Shaw, 2011; Morrison, 2002; Sherman, Smith, & Mansfield, 1986). Furthermore they have mainly shown inconsistent findings which has emphasized the need for further research in order to properly understand what influence social networks might play in the socialization process. The proposed conceptual model suggests that newcomers change their personal networks during the course of their organizational entry phase of the socialization process in order to facilitate their entry. In this way they gather informational and social support to reduce the faced uncertainty stemming from their new surroundings. When newcomers enter organizations they enter a complex social world in which they may choose to reduce uncertainty in order to facilitate their performance (e.g. Ashforth, Sluss, & Harrison, 2008; Bauer, Bodner, Erdogan, Truxillo, & Tucker, 2007; Bauer & Erdogan, 2011; Bauer, Morrison, & Callister, 1998; Berger, 1979; Berger & Bradac, 1982; Kramer, 2004; Saks & Ashforth, 1997). Kramer (2010) suggests newcomer’s prioritize uncertainty using four distinct typologies; (1) task related uncertainties, (2) relational uncertainties, (3) organizational uncertainties and (4) political or power uncertainties as opposed addressing them all simultaneously. Our conceptual model proposes that newcomers cultivate from their colleagues both informational and social support which enables them to facilitate this process (cf. Jones, 1986; Nelson & Quick, 1991). The proposed relationship building framework is composed of four stages. First newcomers assess, informed by their perception of their environment, whether they are motivated to reduce their uncertainty (Stage 1). If they feel it necessary to search for informational and social support then may wish to initiate relationships with others by nurturing personal networks (Stage 2, A). Following this we hypothesize that a contacted actor, i.e. another employee, will share information and / or social support with the newcomer, only if they are able and willing to assist (Stage 2, B) (cf. Farh, Bartol, Shapiro, & Shin, 2010; Nebus, 2006; O'Neill & Adya, 2007). This has been suggested by others (cf. Iida, Seidman, Shrout, Fujita, & Bolger, 2008; Nebus, 2006; Nelson & Quick, 1991), who propose that what really matters to newcomers is not information’s objective value, but how they perceive its value (Stage 2, C). If the newcomer values the information and / or social support provided then the actor is included in the newcomer’s resource network (Stage 3) (Nebus, 2006). Finally newcomers evaluate whether their personal network is optimally configured or whether further adjustments may be required (Stage 4). We explore how personal networks change during this process by employing a methodological approach theoretically developed by Feld et al (2007) and empirically tested by Lubbers et al. (2010).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventPersonal networks in times of economic hardship and political discontent - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 11 Jul 201213 Jul 2012


ConferencePersonal networks in times of economic hardship and political discontent

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