Message Content and Sources During Organizational Socialization

Topic: Employee Onboarding and Employee Communications

Authors, Title and Publication
Hart, Z. P. (2012). Message Content and Sources During Organizational Socialization. Journal of Business Communication, 49(3), 191-209.

One of the major purposes of organizational socialization is to inform new employees of organizational and unit practices, familiarize them with relationships within the organization, and instill the values of the organization. Organizational socialization has a significant impact on performance, job satisfaction, commitment, intention to remain, and turnover. Communication is central to organizational socialization as many different kinds of information from a variety of sources inform newcomers of many aspects of their new work roles. This article examined the nature of message content and message sources during this important process. Specifically, it examined 1) to what extent newcomers receive messages about performance proficiency, history, language, politics, organizational goals and values, and people; and 2) who (top management, supervisors, coworkers, or subordinates) is the primary source of information for each of the message content areas.

Results from an investigation of 85 newly hired hotel managers’ socialization experiences showed that newcomers distinguished clearly the extent to which they received socialization messages (i.e., performance proficiency, history, language, politics, organizational goals and values, and people). Messages about goals and values of the organization, language, and performance proficiency were emphasized to a greater extent than messages about history, people, and politics. In the early stages of socialization, specific details of the work role as related to work performance and technical skills such as the workplace language were emphasized. Regarding message source, this study found that coworkers were vitally important sources of information. While supervisors remained an important source of information in all the content areas with the exception of people, coworkers were equally important sources in all the content areas except goals and values.

Implications for Practice
Organizational socialization is not only a process of newcomers using a variety of tools to adapt to the a new work role, but also a process in which organizations communicate essential information that will ultimately help the newcomer be successful. Organizations should fully understand this process and strategically select message sources based on the message content to be communicated.

Location of Article
The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)



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