Socialization in Organizations and Work Groups
Socialization is a process of mutual adjustment that produces changes over time in the relationship between a person and a group. Because socialization occurs in groups of many kinds, it has been analyzed by scholars from many disciplines and professions (Bell & Price, 1975; Putallaz & Wasserman, 1990; Scott & Scott, 1989). Much of the best work, though, has been done by organizational psychologists. The purpose of this chapter is to offer a fresh perspective on that work by emphasizing the role of work groups in the socialization process. We begin with a brief review of recent theory and research on organizational socialization, focusing on the tactics used by organizations and their employees, and on commitment, the emotional bond that links organizations and employees to one another. Next, we make two surprising claims about organizational socialization, namely that it occurs largely in work groups, and that it is less important than work group socialization. These claims reflect clear evidence that much of what organizations and employees know about each other is learned in the context of work groups, and that work groups have a stronger influence than organizations on the behavior of most employees. Finally, we describe a model of group socialization (Moreland & Levine, 1982) that is relevant to work groups and could thus enhance many analyses of organizational socialization. Theoretical and empirical work on that model is reviewed, and some issues regarding the model’s application to work groups is discussed.