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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 8 S ocial
After reading Chapter 8, you should be able to:
1 Understand the difference between informa- tion dependence and effect dependence.
2 Differentiate compliance, identification, and internalization as motives for social
3 Describe the socialization process and the stages of organizational socialization.
4 Describe the main methods of socialization and what newcomers can do to socialize
5 Define organizational culture and discuss the contributors to a culture.
6 Discuss the assets and liabilities of strong organizational cultures.
7 Describe how to diagnose an organizational culture. A month into her first job, Lauren Arbittier
stood at a roulette wheel at a Las Vegas casino
and, egged on by her co-workers and bosses,
put down a $2,000 bet. Until she joined Trilogy
Software Inc., she never thought of herself as a
gambler. “I’m just not someone who throws
money around,” she says. But then, she had not
worked for Joe Liemandt, who put Ms. Arbittier
and 35 other new recruits up to the big bet. Trilogy
Inc. Mr. Liemandt is Trilogy’s chairman and chief executive officer who dropped
out of Stanford University in 1990 to start a software company. In building
Trilogy to more than $100 million in revenue, he learned the hard way that
taking risks and suffering the consequences are a crucial part of business.
Now he wants new hires to understand the experience firsthand.
In an unusual indoctrination, he puts the company’s college recruits
through a kind of corporate boot camp, complete with long workouts and
little time at home. His goal: To develop creative people who work well in
teams, adapt to swift changes in customer demands—and take chances.
For three months, Mr. Liemandt dedicates nearly all of his time to training
300 new recruits. “Trilogy University” classes begin at 8 a.m. and, in the
first month, last until midnight. The company caters meals and stocks
snack rooms more richly than some convenience stores. It schedules softball games and trips to Austin’s nightclubs and even to the beach four
hours away. 239 New recruits at Trilogy Software
Inc. attend Trilogy University, a
kind of corporate boot camp,
designed to transform them into
creative individuals who can
work in teams, adapt to changes,
and take risks. In classes led by Mr. Liemandt and seven other Trilogy veterans, the new recruits learn
about programming languages, product plans, and marketing. Trilogy’s venture-capital
backers talk, and Mr. Liemandt’s mother, a company director, drops in to tell a few funny stories about the boss. In the second week, the new recruits are divided into 80 teams and
given three weeks to complete projects ranging from making an existing Trilogy product run
faster to creating new products from scratch. In addition to affecting where each person
will end up, the projects offer a short-term reward: Teams that do well will win a two-day
trip to Las Vegas. But Mr. Liemandt tells the fresh-faced crowd that effort will not be
enough. Projecting a slide that reads, “No Reward for Trying,” he warns, “If you set a hard
goal and don’t make it, you don’t win points.”
Hours before the buses are scheduled to take the winners to two chartered planes to Las
Vegas, Mr. Liemandt and his executives gather for a final discussion. Twenty of the 80 projects are deemed failures: some people should be left behind. A short time later, Mr.
Liemandt starts by reading off the names of a few winners. The anxiety is audible. But the
group breaks into cheers and applause when he finally announces that everyone will go to
Las Vegas. “I know we get up here and preach results are all that matters, and then we have
a slide that says, ‘Effort doesn’t count,’” Mr. Liemandt says. “But you guys delivered a whole
lot as a group.”
In the wee hours of the next morning, 300 Trilogy employees pour into the Luxor Hotel and
Casino. The only event everyone promised to attend was a stop at the roulette wheel scheduled just before they fly home.
At the roulette wheel, Mr. Liemandt challenges employees to take a $2,000 bet, believing
that amount is enough money to convey a sense of pain—and risk—but not enough to cause
financial disaster. Trilogy will put up the cash, and losers will have their paycheques
reduced by $400 a month for five months. Trilogy Software Inc.
www.trilogy.com 240 Ms. Arbittier decides at the last minute to join in. Almost immediately, she starts to question the decision. How will she survive? Altogether, 36 recruits agree to bet, enough to fill
all the public spots on the wheel. The bettors gather around the roulette table in a special
room for high stakes gamblers, while the others stand outside. Sweating as the dealer drops
the ball, Ms. Arbittier struggles for a view. In an instant, the colleague holding number 23
wins $72,000, and Ms. Arbittier is out $2,000.
However, for Ms. Arbittier the payoff came in the eyes of her peers who could not believe
she had taken the plunge. Now part of the exclusive “L2K Club,” for “lost $2,000,” she has a
new reputation, a T-shirt, and a glass etching of the roulette event and her number, 35. Still
it took her three weeks to work up the nerve to tell her parents about the $2,000 — and she
did it by e-mail instead of a phone call. “We are known as risk-takers, an important attribute
in the high-tech world,” she explains. Moreover, the boss knows who she is. “Joe knows
every L2K-er pretty well.” 1 This description of a successful organization raises a number of interesting questions. Why does Trilogy spend so much time and money on training new hires? Do
employees actually accept the ideas and values that they encounter in their training?
What is the effect of this type of training on employees’ attitudes and behaviour?
These are the kinds of questions that we will probe in this chapter.
First, we will examine the general issue of social influence in organizations, how
members have an impact on each other’s behaviour and attitudes. Social norms hold
an organization together, and conformity to such norms is a product of social influence. Thus, the next section discusses conformity. Following this, we consider the
elaborate process of socialization, the learning of the organization’s norms and
roles. Socialization both contributes to and results from the organizational culture,
the final topic that we will explore. Social Influence in Organizations
In the previous chapter, we pointed out that groups exert influence over the attitudes
and behaviour of their individual members. As a result of social influence, people
often feel or act differently from how they would as independent operators. What
accounts for such influence? In short, in many social settings, and especially in
groups, people are highly dependent on others. This dependence sets the stage for
influence to occur. Information Dependence and Effect Dependence Information dependence.
Reliance on others for information about how to think, feel, and
act. We are frequently dependent on others for information about the adequacy and
appropriateness of our behaviour, thoughts, and feelings. How satisfying is this job
of mine? How nice is our boss? How much work should I take home to do over the
weekend? Should we protest the bad design at the meeting? Objective, concrete
answers to such questions might be hard to come by. Thus, we must often rely on
information that others provide.2 In turn, this information dependence gives others Chapter 8 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture the opportunity to influence our thoughts, feelings, and actions via the signals they
send to us.3
Individuals are often motivated to compare their own thoughts, feelings, and
actions with those of others as a means of acquiring information about their adequacy. The effects of social information can be very strong, often exerting as much
or more influence over others as objective reality.4
As if group members were not busy enough tuning into information provided by
the group, they must also be sensitive to the rewards and punishments the group has
at its disposal. Thus, individuals are dependent on the effects of their behaviour as
determined by the rewards and punishments provided by others. Effect dependence
actually involves two complementary processes. First, the group frequently has a
vested interest in how individual members think and act because such matters can
affect the goal attainment of the group. Second, the member frequently desires the
approval of the group. In combination, these circumstances promote effect dependence.
In organizations, plenty of effects are available to keep individual members
“under the influence.” Managers typically have a fair array of rewards and punishments available, including promotions, raises, and the assignment of more or less
favourable tasks. At the informal level, the variety of such effects available to coworkers is staggering. They might reward cooperative behaviour with praise, friendship, and a helping hand on the job. Lack of cooperation might result in nagging,
harassment, name calling, or social isolation. 241 Effect dependence. Reliance on
others due to their capacity to
provide rewards and punishment. Social Influence in Action
One of the most obvious consequences of information and effect dependence is the
tendency for group members to conform to the social norms that have been established by the group. In the last chapter, we discussed the development and function
of such norms, but we have postponed until now the discussion of why norms are
supported. Put simply, much of the information and many of the effects on which
group members are dependent are oriented toward enforcing group norms. Motives for Social Conformity
The fact that Roman Catholic priests conform to the norms of the church hierarchy
seems rather different from the case in which convicts conform to norms that prison
officials establish. Clearly, the motives for conformity differ in these two cases.
What is needed, then, is some system to classify different motives for conformity.5
Compliance. Compliance is the simplest, most direct motive for conformity to
group norms. It occurs because a member wishes to acquire rewards from the group
and avoid punishment. As such, it primarily involves effect dependence. Although
the complying individual adjusts his or her behaviour to the norm, he or she does
not really subscribe to the beliefs, values, and attitudes that underlie the norm. Most
convicts conform to formal prison norms out of compliance. Similarly, very young
children behave themselves only because of external forces.
Identification. Some individuals conform because they find other supporters of
the norm attractive. In this case, the individual identifies with these supporters and
sees himself or herself as similar to them. Although there are elements of effect
dependence here, information dependence is especially important—if someone is
basically similar to you, then you will be motivated to rely on them for information
about how to think and act. Identification as a motive for conformity is often
revealed by an imitation process in which established members serve as models for
the behaviour of others. For example, a newly promoted executive might attempt to Compliance. Conformity to a
social norm prompted by the
desire to acquire rewards or avoid
punishment. Identification. Conformity to a
social norm prompted by perceptions that those who promote the
norm are attractive or similar to
oneself. 242 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three dress and talk like her successful, admired boss. Similarly, as children get older, they
might be motivated to behave themselves because such behaviour corresponds to
that of an admired parent with whom they are beginning to identify. Internalization. Conformity to a
social norm prompted by true
acceptance of the beliefs, values,
and attitudes that underlie the
Some conformity to norms occurs because individuals have
truly and wholly accepted the beliefs, values, and attitudes that underlie the norm.
As such, internalization of the norm has happened, and conformity occurs because
it is seen as right, not because it achieves rewards, avoids punishment, or pleases
others. That is, conformity is due to internal, rather than external, forces. In general, we expect that most religious leaders conform to the norms of their religion for
this reason. Similarly, the career army officer might come to support the strict discipline of the military because it seems right and proper, not simply because colleagues support such discipline. In certain organizational settings, some of these
motives for conformity are more likely than others. For example, in the chapter
opening vignette, Lauren Arbittier has accepted the values and attitudes of Trilogy
Software. The once cautious spender now considers herself a risk-taker and a
member of the exclusive “L2K Club.” The Subtle Power of Compliance
In many of the examples given in the previous section, especially those dealing with
effect dependence, it is obvious that the doubting group member is motivated to
conform only in the compliance mode—that is, he or she really does not support the
belief, value, and attitude structure underlying the norm but conforms simply to
avoid trouble or obtain rewards. Of course, this happens all the time. Individuals
without religious beliefs or values might agree to be married in a church service to
please others. Similarly, a store cashier might verify a credit card purchase by a
familiar customer even though he feels that the whole process is a waste of time.
These examples of compliance seem trivial enough, but a little compliance can go a
A compliant individual is necessarily doing something that is contrary to the way
he or she thinks or feels. As we pointed out in our discussion of attitudes in Chapter
4, such a situation is highly dissonant and arouses a certain tension in the individual.
Now, one way to reduce this dissonance is to cease conformity. This is especially
likely if the required behaviour is at great variance with one’s values or moral standards. However, this might require the person to adopt an isolate or scapegoat role,
equally unpleasant prospects. The other method of reducing dissonance is to gradually accept the beliefs, values, and attitudes that support the norm in question. This
is more likely when the required behaviour is not so discrepant with one’s current
Consider Mark, an idealistic graduate of a college social work program who
acquires a job with a social services agency. Mark loves helping people but hates the
bureaucratic red tape and reams of paperwork that is necessary to accomplish this
goal. However, to acquire the approval of his boss and co-workers and to avoid
trouble, he follows the rules to the letter of the law. This is pure compliance. Over
time, however, Mark begins to identify with his boss and more experienced coworkers because they are in the enviable position of controlling those very rewards
and punishments that are so important to him. Obviously, if he is to be one of them,
he must begin to think and feel like them. Finally, Mark is promoted to a supervisory position, partly because he is so cooperative. Breaking in a new social worker,
Mark is heard to say, “Our rules and forms are very important. You don’t understand now, but you will.” The metamorphosis is complete—Mark has internalized
the beliefs and values that support the bureaucratic norms of his agency.
Although this story is slightly dramatized, the point that it makes is accurate—
simple compliance can set the stage for more complete involvement with organiza- Chapter 8 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture 243 tional norms and roles. The process though which this occurs in organizations is
known as organizational socialization, the focus of the next section. Socialization: Learning and Adjustment
The story of Mark, the social worker, in the previous section describes how one individual was socialized into a particular organization. In the chapter opening vignette,
we described how new hires are socialized at Trilogy Software. Socialization is the
process by which people learn the norms and roles that are necessary to function in
a group or organization. It is a learning process in which new members must acquire
a variety of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours. Socialization is also the primary
means by which organizations communicate the organization’s culture and values to
An important goal of socialization is to help newcomers assimilate and fit into
the organization. There are generally two kinds of fit that are important for socialization. First, newcomers must acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their work tasks and roles. This is known as person–job or P–J fit. Person–job
fit refers to the match between an employee’s knowledge, skills, and abilities and the
requirements of a job. Second, newcomers must also learn the values and beliefs that
are important to the group or organization. This is known as person–organization
fit or P–O fit and refers to the match between an employee’s personal values and the
values of an organization.6
An important objective of organizational socialization is to achieve high levels
of P–J and P–O fit among new members. This is important because research has
found that both P–J and P–O fit are strongly related to the work adjustment of new
hires. In particular, new hires with greater P–J and P–O fit tend to have more positive job attitudes and are less likely to quit.7 As so aptly demonstrated in the chapter
opening vignette, the socialization of Lauren Arbittier resulted in a very high degree
of P–O fit.
Exhibit 8.1 depicts the socialization process. In particular, it shows how different
socialization methods influence learning the task requirements, role responsibilities,
and group and organizational processes, and how this leads to P–J and P–O fit.
Higher levels of P–J and P–O fit lead to greater socialization and adjustment.
As we shall see, some of this process might occur before organization membership formally begins while some occurs once the new member enters the organization. Furthermore, socialization is an ongoing process by virtue of continuous
interaction with others in the workplace. However, there is good reason to believe
that socialization is most potent during certain periods of membership transition,
such as when one is promoted or assigned to a new work group, and especially
when one joins a new organization.8 Socialization
Methods Learning Person–Job Fit
Person–Organization Fit Newcomer
Adjustment 1. Realistic Job Previews 1. Task/Job requirements 1. Job attitudes 2. Employee Orientation Programs 2. Role responsibilities 2. Stress 3. Socialization Tactics 3. Group processes 3. Job performance 4. Mentoring 4. Organizational processes 4. Turnover Socialization. The process by
which people learn the norms and
roles that are necessary to function in a group or organization. Person–job fit. The match
between an employee’s knowledge, skills, and abilities and the
requirements of a job.
Person–organization fit. The
match between an employee’s
personal values and the values of
an organization. Exhibit 8.1
The socialization process. 244 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three Stages of Socialization
Since organizational socialization is an ongoing process, it is useful to divide this
process into three stages.9 One of these stages occurs before entry, another immediately follows entry, and the last occurs after one has been a member for some period
of time. In a sense, the first two stages represent hurdles for achieving passage into
the third stage (see Exhibit 8.2).
A considerable amount of socialization might
occur even before a person becomes a member of a particular organization. This
process is called anticipatory socialization. Some anticipatory socialization includes
a formal process of skill and attitude acquisition, such as that which might occur by
attending college or university. Other anticipatory socialization might be informal,
such as that acquired through a series of summer jobs or even by watching the portrayal of organizational life in television shows and movies. As we shall see shortly,
organizations vary in the extent to which they encourage anticipatory socialization
in advance of entry. As well, not all anticipatory socialization is accurate and useful
for the new member.
Encounter. In the encounter stage, the new recruit, armed with some expectations about organizational life, encounters the day-to-day reality of this life. Formal
aspects of this stage might include orientation programs, training programs (such as
that at Trilogy Software), and rotation through various parts of the organization.
Informal aspects include getting to know and understand the style and personality
of one’s boss and co-workers. At this stage, the organization and its experienced
members are looking for an acceptable degree of conformity to organizational
norms and the gradual acquisition of appropriate role behaviour. At Trilogy
Software such behaviours include creativity, working in teams, and risk taking.
Recruits, on the other hand, are interested in having their personal needs and expectations fulfilled. If successful, the recruit will have complied with critical organizational norms and should begin to identify with experienced organizational
Role Management. Having survived the encounter stage and acquired basic role
behaviours, the member’s attention shifts to fine tuning and actively managing his
or her role in the organization. He or she might be expected to exercise some idiosyncrasy credits and modify the role to better serve the organization. This might
require forming connections outside the immediate work group. And the organizational member must confront balancing the now-familiar organizational role with
nonwork roles and family demands. Each of these experiences provides additional
socialization to the role occupant, who might begin to internalize the norms and
values that are prominent in the organization. Exhibit 8.2
Stages of organizational
Source: Based on Feldman, D. C.
(1976). A contingency theory of
socialization. Administrative Science
Quarterly, 21, 433–452. Copyright ©
1976 by Administrative Science
Quarterly. Feldman, D. C. (1981). The
multiple socialization of organization
members. Academy of Management
Review, 6, 309–318. I II III Anticipatory
Socialization Encounter Role
Management Pre-Entry Organizational Member Chapter 8 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture 245 Now that we have seen a basic sketch of how socialization proceeds, let us look
in greater detail at some of the key issues in the process. Unrealistic Expectations and the Psychological Contract
People seldom join organizations without expectations about what membership will
be like and what they expect to receive in return for their efforts. In fact, it is just
such expectations that lead them to choose one career, job, or organization over
another. Management majors have some expectations about what they will be doing
when they become management trainees at IBM. Similarly, even 18-year-old army
recruits have notions about what military life will be like. Unfortunately, these
expectations are often unrealistic and obligations between new members and organizations are often violated.
Research indicates that people entering organizations hold many expectations that are inaccurate and often unrealistically high.10 In
one study of telephone operators, for example, researchers obtained people’s expectations about the nature of the job before they started work. They also looked at
these employees’ perceptions of the actual job shortly after they started work. The
results indicated that many perceptions were less favourable than expectations. A
similar result occurred for students entering an MBA program.11 Such changes,
which are fairly common, support the notion that socialization has an important
impact on new organizational members.
Why do new members often have unrealistic expectations about the organizations they join?12 To some extent, occupational stereotypes, such as those we discussed in Chapter 3, could be responsible. The media often communicate such
stereotypes. For example, a person entering nurses’ training might have gained some
expectations about hospital life from watching ER. Those of us who teach might also
be guilty of communicating stereotypes. After four years of study, the new management trainee at IBM might be dismayed to find that the emphasis is on trainee rather
than management! Finally, unrealistic expectations may also stem from overzealous
recruiters who paint rosy pictures in order to attract job candidates to the organization. Taken together, these factors demonstrate the need for socialization.
Psychological Contract. When people join organizations, they have beliefs and
expectations about what they will receive from the organization in return for what
they give the organization. Such beliefs form what is known as the psychological
contract. A psychological contract refers to beliefs held by employees regarding the
reciprocal obligations and promises between them and their organization.13 For
example, an employee might expect to receive rewards and promotions in return for
hard work and loyalty.
Unfortunately, psychological contract violations appear to be a common occurrence. One study found that 55 percent of recent MBA graduates reported that some
aspect of their psychological contract had been broken by their employer.14
Contract violations occur when an employee perceives that his/her organization has
failed to fulfill one or more promised obligations of the psychological contract. This
often results in feelings of anger and betrayal and can have a negative effect on
employees’ work attitudes and behaviour.15
Why do psychological contract violations occur? As is the case with unrealistic
expectations, recruiters are often tempted to promise more than their organization
can provide in order to attract the best job applicants. In addition, newcomers often
lack sufficient information to form accurate perceptions concerning their psychological contract. As a result, there will be some incongruence or differences in understandings between an employee and the organization about promised obligations. In
addition, organizational changes, such as downsizing and restructuring, can cause Psychological contract. Beliefs
held by employees regarding the
reciprocal obligations and
promises between them and their
organization. 246 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three organizations to knowingly break promises made to an employee that they are
either unable or unwilling to keep.16
It is therefore important that newcomers develop accurate perceptions in the formation of a psychological contract. Many of the terms of the psychological contract
are established during anticipatory socialization. Therefore, organizations need to
ensure that truthful and accurate information about promises and obligations is
communicated to new members before and after they join an organization.
Incongruence and psychological contract violations are less likely in organizations
where socialization is intense.17 This further points to the need for socialization. Methods of Socialization
Organizations differ in the extent to which they socialize their new hires. This is in
part due to the fact that some organizations make use of other organizations to help
socialize their members. For example, hospitals do not develop experienced cardiologists from scratch. Rather, they depend on medical schools to socialize potential
doctors in the basic role requirements of being a physician. Similarly, business firms
rely on business schools to send them recruits who think and act in a business-like
manner. In this way, a fair degree of anticipatory socialization may exist before a
person joins an organization. On the other hand, organizations such as police
forces, the military, and religious institutions are less likely to rely on external socializers. Police academies, boot camps, and seminaries are set up as extensions of these
organizations to aid in socialization.
Organizations that handle their own socialization are especially interested in
maintaining the continuity and stability of job behaviours over a period of time.
Conversely, those that rely on external agencies to perform anticipatory socialization are oriented toward maintaining the potential for creative, innovative behaviour on the part of members—there is less “inbreeding.” Of course, reliance on
external agents might present problems. The engineer who is socialized in university
courses to respect design elegance might find it difficult to accept cost restrictions
when he or she is employed by an engineering firm. For this reason, organizations
that rely heavily on external socialization always supplement it with formal training
and orientation or informal on-the-job training.
Thus, organizations differ in terms of who does the socializing, how it is done,
and how much is done. Most organizations, however, make use of a number of
methods of socialization including realistic job previews, employee orientation programs, socialization tactics, and mentoring. Realistic Job Previews Realistic job previews. The provision of a balanced, realistic picture of the positive and negative
aspects of a job to job applicants. We noted earlier that new organizational members often harbour unrealistically
inflated expectations about what their jobs will be like. When the job is actually
begun, it fails to live up to these expectations, individuals experience “reality
shock,” and job dissatisfaction results. As a consequence, costly turnover is most
likely to occur among newer employees who are unable to survive the discrepancy
between expectations and reality. For the organization, this sequence of events represents a failure of socialization.
Obviously, organizations cannot control all sources of unrealistic job expectations, such as those provided by television shows and glorified occupational stereotypes. However, they can control those generated during the recruiting process by
providing job applicants with realistic job previews. Realistic job previews provide
a balanced, realistic picture of the positive and negative aspects of the job to job
applicants.18 Thus, they provide “corrective action” to expectations at the anticipatory socialization stage of socialization. Exhibit 8.3 compares the realistic job pre- Chapter 8 247 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture Traditional Procedures Realistic Procedures Set Initial Job Expectations Too High Set Job Expectations Realistically Job Is Typically Viewed as Attractive Job May or May Not Be Attractive,
Depending on Individual’s Needs High Rate of Job Offer Acceptance Some Accept, Some Reject Job Offer Work Experience Disconfirms
Expectations Work Experience Confirms
Expectations Dissatisfaction and Realization That
Job Not Matched to Needs Satisfaction; Needs Matched to Job Low Job Survival, Dissatisfaction,
Frequent Thoughts of Quitting Exhibit 8.3
Traditional and realistic job
previews compared. High Job Survival, Satisfaction,
Infrequent Thoughts of Quitting view process with the traditional preview process that often sets expectations too
high by ignoring the negative aspects of the job.
How do organizations design and conduct realistic job previews? Generally, they
obtain the views of experienced employees and human resource officers about the
positive and negative aspects of the job. Then, they incorporate these views into
booklets or videotape presentations for applicants.19 For example, a video presentation might involve interviews with job incumbents discussing the pros and cons of
their jobs. Realistic previews have been designed for jobs as diverse as telephone
operator, life insurance salesperson, Marine Corps recruit, and supermarket
Sometimes realistic previews use simulations to permit applicants to actually
sample the work. For example, in an effort to recruit more women, the Ontario
Provincial Police (OPP) recently staged a five-day recruiting camp for one hundred
women who were selected from close to 3,000 applicants interested in a career in
policing. During the five-day recruiting camp, the women experienced typical OPP
policing activities, including shooting a handgun, completing 6 a.m. fitness drills,
and responding to mock crimes. Eighty-three of the women decided to complete the
first stage of testing and, if successful, they will then begin a lengthy application and
selection process with very realistic expectations.20
Evidence shows that realistic job previews are effective in reducing expectations
and turnover, and improving job performance.21 What is less clear is exactly why
turnover reduction occurs. Reduced expectations and increased job satisfaction are
part of the answer. It also appears that realistic previews cause those not cut out for
the job to withdraw from the application process.22 As a result, applicants who perceive a good P–J and P–O fit are more likely to remain in the hiring process and to
accept a job offer. Although the turnover reductions generated by realistic previews
are small, they can result in substantial financial savings for organizations.23
Providing realistic job previews can also help prevent psychological contract violations.24 Source: Wanous, J. P. (1975,
July–August). Tell it like it is at realistic job previews. Personnel, 50–60.
© 1975 American Management
Association, New York. All rights
reserved. Ontario Provincial Police
www.gov.on.ca/opp 248 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three The Ontario Provincial Police
staged a five-day recruiting
camp in which recruits
participated in realistic work
simulations. Employee Orientation Programs Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
www.fairmont.com Once newcomers enter an organization, socialization during the encounter stage
usually begins with an orientation program. Orientation programs are designed to
introduce new employees to their job, the people they will be working with, and the
organization. The main content of most orientation programs consists of health and
safety issues, terms and conditions of employment, and information about the organization, such as its history and traditions. Another purpose of new employee orientation programs is to begin conveying and forming the psychological contract and
to teach newcomers how to cope with stressful work situations.25
Most orientation programs take place during the first week of entry and last one
day to one week. Some organizations realize the importance of orientation and
invest a considerable amount of time and resources in it. Starbucks, for example,
has a comprehensive orientation program in which new employees receive 24 hours
of training in their first 80 hours of employment. CEO Howard Schultz greets new
hires via video and they learn about the company’s history and its obsession for
quality and customer service. This first phase is followed by classes during the next
six weeks on topics such as “Brewing the Perfect Cup,” “Retail Sales,” “Coffee
Knowledge,” and “Customer Service.” Employees are also taught relaxation techniques and guidelines for on-the-job interpersonal relations. According to CEO
Howard Schultz, “For people joining the company we try to define what Starbucks
stands for, what we’re trying to achieve, and why that’s relevant to them.” Not surprisingly, the turnover rate at Starbucks is around 60 percent, which is considerably
less than the average rate of 150 percent in the specialty-coffee industry.26
At Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the orientation program consists of presentations, role-playing exercises that simulate encounters with guests, and tours that are
unique to each hotel and resort. The latter include scavenger hunts that create fun
and competition among teams of new hires and celebrity tours that show new
employees where famous guests have stayed, such as the hotel in Montreal where
John Lennon and Yoko Ono had their “love-in.” At a resort in Banff Springs,
employees are given a tour of the rooms believed to be haunted by ghosts. After 60
to 90 days on-the-job, new employees are paired with a mentor in order to receive
additional help and to build relationships with co-workers.27
Orientation programs are an important method of socialization because they can
have a lasting effect on the job attitudes and behaviours of new hires. A study con- Chapter 8 249 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture ducted at glass maker Corning Inc. concluded that employees who completed a full
orientation program were 69 percent more likely to remain with the company after
three years. Other companies have also seen substantial decreases in their rate of
turnover as a result of new employee orientation programs.28
To learn more about orientation programs, see “Research Focus: The Effects of
an Orientation Program on the Socialization of New Hires.” Corning Inc.
www.corning.com Socialization Tactics
Although realistic job previews and orientation programs play an important role in
the socialization of new employees, the socialization process does not end at the
conclusion of an orientation program. So what happens to new hires once the orientation program has ended? Consider how the new hires at Trilogy Software are
socialized. All of them go through their socialization together as a group and attend
formal classes at “Trilogy University.” They know that their training will last three
months, and they are trained by veterans of the company. Training includes classes
in various areas, such as programming languages, product plans, and marketing,
followed by group projects that last for three weeks.
As you can see, there is a deliberate, conscious, and structured manner in which
the new hires at Trilogy Software are socialized. John Van Maanen and Edgar
Schein developed a theory of socialization that helps us understand and explain the
socialization process that is used at companies like Trilogy Software. They suggested The Effects of an Orientation Program on the Socialization
of New Hires
Although most organizations use orientation programs to socialize new employees and such programs are believed to play a critical role in the
socialization process, very few studies have actually
studied their effectiveness as a method of socialization. In an attempt to study the effects of an orientation program on the socialization of new hires,
Howard Klein and Natasha Weaver investigated the
orientation program in a large educational institution.
Newly hired employees volunteered to attend a
three hour orientation program that was designed
to help them (1) feel more a part of the organization; (2) learn more about the organization’s language, traditions, mission, history, and structure;
and (3) better understand the organization’s basic
workplace principles. The program consisted of an
introduction and overview; a videotaped welcome
from the company president; a game/exercise to
familiarize employees with the company’s traditions
and language; a videotape and discussion about the
mission, history, and structure of the organization;
and a lecture/discussion of the organization’s basic
The authors expected that employees who
attended the orientation program would be more
socialized in their knowledge of the organization’s
history, traditions, customs, myths, stories, and rit- uals, as well as the language of the organization
and its goals and values. Furthermore, it was also
expected that if employees were more socialized
then they would have higher organizational commitment.
In order to test the effects of the orientation program, a group of newly hired employees completed
a survey before the orientation program and one to
two months afterward. Some of these employees
attended the orientation and some did not. A comparison of those who attended and those who did
not indicated that employees who attended the program were more socialized in terms of their knowledge and understanding of the organization’s goals
and values, history, and involvement with people.
Furthermore, employees who attended orientation
had higher organizational commitment.
Thus, as predicted, the orientation program
increased new employees’ learning and socialization, and this led to higher organizational commitment. The authors concluded that orientation
programs can help employees become more socialized and can result in greater organizational commitment.
Source: Except from Klein, H. J. & Weaver, N. A. (2000). The effectiveness of an organizational-level orientation training program in
the socialization of new hires. Personnel Psychology, 53, 47–66.
Reprinted with permission. 250 Socialization tactics. The
manner in which organizations
structure the early work experiences of newcomers. Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three that there are six socialization tactics that organizations can use to structure the early
work experiences of newcomers. Each of the six tactics consists of a bipolar continuum and are described below.29 Exhibit 8.4 depicts the six socialization tactics.
Collective versus Individual Tactics. Organizations can use a collective or an
individual socialization tactic. When using the collective tactic, a number of new
members are socialized as a group, going through the same experiences and facing
the same challenges, as is the case at Trilogy Software. Army boot camps, fraternity
pledge classes, and training classes for salespeople and airline attendants are also
common examples. In contrast, the individual tactic consists of socialization experiences that are tailor-made for each new member. Simple on-the-job training and
apprenticeship to develop skilled craftspeople constitute individual socialization.
Formal versus Informal Tactics. Socialization tactics can also be formal or
informal. Formal tactics involve segregating newcomers from regular organizational
members and providing them with formal learning experiences during the period of
socialization. Informal tactics, however, do not distinguish a newcomer from more
experienced members and rely more on informal and on-the-job learning.
Sequential versus Random Tactics. Sequential versus random tactics have to
do with whether there is a clear sequence of steps or stages during the socialization
process. With a sequential tactic, there is a fixed sequence of steps leading to the
assumption of the role, compared with the random tactic, in which there is an
ambiguous or changing sequence.
Fixed versus Variable Tactics. Socialization tactics can also be distinguished in
terms of the existence of a time frame during which the socialization period lasts. If
the socialization tactic is fixed, there is a time table for the assumption of the role.
For example, at Trilogy Software, the training of new hires lasts for three months.
If the tactic is variable, then there is no time frame to indicate when the socialization process ends and the newcomer assumes his or her new role.
Serial versus Disjunctive Tactics. Socialization tactics also vary in terms of
whether or not experienced members of the organization participate in the socialization of new members. The serial tactic refers to a process in which newcomers
are socialized by experienced members of the organization, as is the case at Trilogy
Software. The disjunctive tactic refers to a socialization process where role models
and experienced organization members do not groom new members or “show them
the ropes.” Exhibit 8.4
Socialization tactics. Institutionalized Tactics Individualized Tactics Collective Individual Formal Informal Sequential Random Fixed Variable Serial Disjunctive Investidure Divestiture Chapter 8 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture 251 Some socialization tactics such
as debasement and hazing are
designed to strip new members
of their old beliefs, values, and
attitudes and get them to
internalize new ones. Investiture versus Divestiture Tactics.
Finally, socialization tactics can be
either investiture or divestiture. Divestiture tactics refer to what is also known as
debasement and hazing. This is seen when organizations put new members through
a series of experiences that are designed to humble them and strip away some of their
initial self-confidence. Debasement is a way of testing the commitment of new members and correcting for faulty anticipatory socialization. Having been humbled and
stripped of preconceptions, members are then ready to learn the norms of the organization. An extreme example is the rough treatment and shaved heads of Marine
Corps recruits. Sometimes organizations prefer not to use debasement or hazing as
part of the socialization of newcomers. Rather, they employ the investiture socialization tactic which affirms the incoming identity and attributes of new hires rather than
deny and strip them away. Organizations that carefully select new members for certain attributes and characteristics would be more likely to use this tactic.
Institutionalized versus Individualized Socialization. Research on the six
socialization tactics has found that they can be grouped into two separate patterns
of socialization. Institutionalized socialization consists of collective, formal, sequential, fixed, serial, and investiture tactics. Individualized socialization consists of individual, informal, random, variable, disjunctive, and divestiture tactics.
Institutionalized socialization reflects a more structured program of socialization
and, as a result, will help reduce newcomers’ feelings of uncertainty. On the other
hand, individualized socialization reflects a relative absence of structure, and as a
result, the early work experiences of newcomers will remain somewhat uncertain.30
On the basis of this description, it should be apparent to you that the socialization process at Trilogy Software is highly structured and more institutionalized than
individualized. Why do you think that this was the approach used to socialize new
hires? Well, just consider the intended outcome of Trilogy’s socialization program—
creative people who work well in teams, adapt to changes, and take chances.
Institutionalized socialization tactics are effective in promoting organizational loyalty, esprit de corps, and uniformity of behaviour among those being socialized. This
last characteristic is often very important. No matter where they are in the world,
soldiers know whom to salute and how to do it. Similarly, air passengers need not
expect any surprises from cabin attendants, thanks to the attendants’ institutionalized socialization. 252 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three Institutionalized socialization tactics are especially effective in inducing uniform
behaviour because there are so many models present who are undergoing the same
experience. At Trilogy, new hires are socialized so that their attitudes and behaviour
will be consistent with the organization’s culture of creativity and risk taking. In
addition, the individuals being socialized might pressure each other to toe the line
and “do things right.” Thus, in institutionalized socialization, one’s peers prove to
be especially potent sources of information. Just consider the pressure and approval
of peers at the roulette table during Trilogy’s trip to Las Vegas. This follows from
our earlier discussion of conformity.
When socialization is individualized, new members are more likely to take on the
particular characteristics and style of their socializers. Thus, two newly hired real
estate agents who receive on-the-job training from their bosses might soon think and
act more like their bosses than like each other. As you can see, uniformity is less
likely under individualized socialization.
Institutionalized socialization is always followed up by some individualized
socialization as the member joins his or her regular work unit. For example, rookie
police officers are routinely partnered with more experienced officers. At this point,
they will begin to develop some individuality in the style with which they perform
their jobs. This is certainly likely to be the case for the new hires at Trilogy Software
once their three months of socialization and training have ended.
Research on socialization tactics tends to support the basic predictions regarding
the effects of institutionalized and individualized socialization on newcomers’ roles,
attitudes, and behaviour. Institutionalized socialization tactics have been shown to
result in lower role ambiguity and conflict, positive job satisfaction and organizational commitment, and lower turnover. Socialization tactics have also been shown
to influence person–organization fit, as discussed earlier. In particular, one study
found that newcomers who experienced sequential, fixed, serial, and investiture
socialization tactics reported more positive P–O fit perceptions, and those with
more positive P–O fit perceptions were less likely to quit.31 Mentoring Mentor. An experienced or more
senior person in the organization
who gives a junior person special
attention, such as giving advice
and creating opportunities to
assist him or her during the early
stages of his or her career. It should be apparent from our discussion of socialization tactics that supervisors
and peers play an important role in the socialization process. While effective relationships between supervisors and their employees obviously influence the socialization and career success of individuals within an organization, one particularly
important relationship is that between a newcomer or apprentice and a mentor.
A mentor is an experienced or more senior person in the organization who gives
a junior person special attention, such as giving advice and creating opportunities to
assist him or her during the early stages of his or her career. While someone other
than the junior person’s boss can serve as a mentor, often the supervisor is in a
unique position to provide mentoring. Many research efforts have documented the
importance of having a mentor when starting one’s career and how it can influence
career success.32 Research on business school graduates has shown that having a
mentor early in one’s career is associated with increased promotional progress,
higher salaries, and more satisfaction with career prospects later in one’s career.33
However, in order for mentors to be effective, they must perform both career and
Career Functions of Mentoring. A mentor provides many career-enhancing
benefits to an apprentice.34 These benefits are made possible by the senior person’s
experience, status, knowledge of how the organization works, and influence with
powerful people in the organization. The career functions of mentoring include:
■ Sponsorship. The mentor might nominate the apprentice for advantageous
transfers and promotions. Chapter 8 ■ ■ ■ 253 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture Exposure and visibility. The mentor might provide opportunities to work with
key people and see other parts of the organization.
Coaching and feedback. The mentor might suggest work strategies and identify
strengths and weaknesses in the apprentice’s performance.
Developmental assignments. Challenging work assignments a mentor can provide will help develop key skills and knowledge that are crucial to career
progress. Psychosocial Functions of Mentoring. Besides helping directly with career
progress, mentors can provide certain psychosocial functions that are helpful in
developing the apprentice’s self-confidence, sense of identity, and ability to cope
with emotional traumas that can damage a person’s effectiveness. These include:
■ ■ ■ Role modelling. This provides a set of attitudes, values, and behaviours for the
junior person to imitate.
Acceptance and confirmation. The mentor can also provide encouragement
and support and help the apprentice gain self-confidence.
Counselling. This provides an opportunity to discuss personal concerns and
anxieties concerning career prospects, work-family conflicts, and so on. A recent study on mentoring provided by experienced peers found that both the
career and psychosocial functions of mentoring were related to the successful socialization of newcomers, and socialization was negatively related to work stress. In
other words, successful socialization was related to less work-related stress. As well,
both mentoring functions were related to the amount of help in coping with stress
that mentored employees received from their mentors.35
Can organizations formally assign mentors to apprentices and achieve the socialization and career benefits normally associated with more spontaneous informal
mentor–apprentice relationships? A number of organizations have implemented
what they see as very successful formal mentorship programs.36 For example,
Telvent Canada Inc., a Calgary-based company that develops information management systems, started a formal mentoring program five years ago. Although it was
originally offered to new hires to help get them up to speed, it is now available to
all of the company’s 300 employees. Bell Canada recently launched a company-wide
online mentor program called Mentor Match that is open to all of its 45,000
employees. The program is available on the company’s intranet, and employees
must apply to be either a mentor or protégé.37 Research on such programs concludes that formal programs are nearly as beneficial as informal relationships and
are certainly more beneficial than not having mentors at all.38
While all mentors, by definition, provide some subset of the career functions,
mentors do not always provide these psychosocial functions. A network of close
peers can go a long way in providing functions that one’s mentor is not able to.
People starting their careers should be aware of the importance of these career and
psychosocial functions and should attempt to establish a social network that will
fulfill them. A mentor relationship is usually a key element in this broader set of
relationships. To some extent, a supportive and well-connected social network can
substitute for not having an effective mentor.39
Women and Mentors. One factor that inhibits women’s career development,
compared with their male counterparts, is the difficulty women have historically
faced in establishing an apprentice–mentor relationship with a senior person in the
organization.40 The lack of mentors and role models is a major barrier for the career
advancement of many women.41 The problem goes well beyond the traditional
gender stereotyping we discussed in Chapter 3. It stems from the fact that senior
people, who are in the best position to be mentors, are frequently men. A young Telvent canada Inc.
www.bell.ca 254 Deloitte
www.deloitte.com Bank of Montreal
www.bmo.com Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three woman attempting to establish a productive relationship with a senior male associate faces complexities that the male apprentice does not. Part of the problem is the
lack of experience many male mentor candidates have in dealing with a woman in
roles other than daughter, wife, or lover. Often, a woman’s concerns are going to be
different from those her male mentor experienced at that stage in his career. As a
result, the strategies that he models might have limited relevance to the female
apprentice. Perhaps the greatest complexity is associated with fears that their relationship will be perceived as involving sexual intimacy. Concerns about appearances
and what others will say can make both people uncomfortable and get in the way
of a productive relationship.
Because of these concerns, the prospective female apprentice faces more constraints than her male counterpart. Research has confirmed that cross-gender
mentor–apprentice dyads are less likely to get involved in informal after-work social
activities. These activities can help apprentices establish relationships with other
influential people in a relaxed setting. Research also confirms that apprentices in a
cross-gender dyad are less likely to see their mentor as a role model and, thereby,
less likely to realize the developmental benefits of an effective model.42
How critical is mentoring to a woman’s career? The research evidence suggests
that mentoring is even more critical to women’s career success than it is to men’s.
Women who make it to executive positions invariably had a mentor along the way.
This is true for half to two-thirds of men executives.43 Recent studies also indicate
that a majority (61 percent) of women have had a mentor, and almost all (99 percent) say that their mentor has had an impact on the advancement of their careers.44
Thus, for women with these career aspirations, finding a mentor appears to be
a difficult but crucial task. The good news is that an increasing number of organizations are developing mentoring and networking programs. For example, Deloitte
has a program called Developing Leaders, in which experienced partners mentor
and coach male and female partners who demonstrate leadership potential. Mentors
are carefully chosen and their skills and experience are matched to the new partner’s
goals and aspirations. In addition, women at Deloitte have developed networking
and mentoring opportunities for themselves through a program called Women’s
Business Development Groups. The group organizes networking events and meets
with other women’s business groups, and an annual Spring Breakfast is held in
which prominent women are invited to speak.45 These kinds of networking opportunities are extremely important because research has found that exclusion from
informal networks is one of the major roadblocks to the advancement of women.46
The Bank of Montreal also has a mentoring program as part of its equality and
diversity efforts. When the bank asked employees how they could assist women in
advancing in their careers, the most important factor suggested by senior women in
management was a mentoring program. A formal mentoring program was implemented, and one of the results has been an increasing amount of informal mentoring
throughout the bank. In addition, mentored employees have become much more
proactive about managing their own careers, something that we discuss later in the
For women who are unable to find an effective mentor, establishing an informed
and supportive social network is a way to obtain some of the career and psychosocial functions we discussed above.
Race, Ethnicity, and Mentoring. Limited racial and ethnic diversity at higher
levels of organizations constrain the mentoring opportunities available to younger
minority group employees. Research shows that mentors tend to select apprentices
who are similar to them in terms of race and nationality as well as gender.48 While
there are exceptions, research confirms that minority apprentices in cross-ethnic
group mentoring relationships tend to report less assistance, compared with those
with same-race mentors.49 Chapter 8 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture 255 Cross-race mentoring relationships seem to focus on instrumental or career functions of mentoring (e.g., sponsorship, coaching, and feedback) and provide less psychosocial support functions (e.g., role modelling, counselling) than is generally seen
in same-race dyads.50 Although the increasing diversity of organizations makes this
tendency less problematic, it suggests that minority group members should put extra
efforts into developing a supportive network of peers who can provide emotional
support and role modelling as well as the career functions. It also means that organizations must do more to provide mentoring opportunities for minority employees
just as some have done so for women. One organization that is doing this is IBM,
where an Asian Task Force identifies and develops talented Asian employees across
North America who might benefit from mentoring.51 Proactive Socialization: What Newcomers Can Do To
On the basis of what you have read so far in this chapter, you might have the
impression that individuals are at the mercy of organizations to socialize them and
help them progress in their careers. This, however, is not the case. You may recall
from Chapter 2 that individuals also learn by interacting and observing the behaviour of others and through self-management. You also learned how people with a
proactive personality have a tendency to behave proactively and to effect positive
change in their environment. Thus, it should not surprise you that newcomers can
be proactive in their socialization and in the management of their careers through
the use of proactive behaviours. In fact, observation has been found to be one of the
most common ways that newcomers learn on the job, and newcomer self-management behaviour has been found to be related to lower anxiety and stress and to a
more successful socialization.52
Proactive socialization refers to the process in which newcomers play an active
role in their socialization through the use of a number of proactive tactics. Exhibit
8.5 describes the major types of proactive socialization tactics. One of the most
important proactive tactics that newcomers can employ during socialization is to
request feedback about their performance and to seek information about their
work tasks and roles as well as about their group and organization. Recall that
organizational socialization is about learning the attitudes, knowledge, and behaviours that are necessary to function as an effective member of a group and organization. One way for new employees to learn is to seek information from others in
Newcomers can acquire information by requesting it, by asking questions, and
by observing the behaviour of others. In addition, there are different sources that
can be used to acquire information such as supervisors, co-workers, mentors, and
written documents. However, research has found that newcomers rely primarily on
observation, followed by interpersonal sources (i.e., supervisors and co-workers).
Furthermore, they tend to seek out task-related information the most, especially
during the early period of socialization, followed by role, group, and organization
information. Research has also found that feedback and information seeking is
related to greater knowledge of different content areas as well as to higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job performance, and adjustment, and lower
levels of stress, intentions to quit, and turnover. Furthermore, supervisors are the
information source most strongly related to positive socialization outcomes.54
In addition to feedback and information seeking, there are a number of other
proactive tactics that newcomers can use, such as socializing and building relationships with co-workers, negotiating job changes, career enhancing strategies, involvement in different work-related activities, and finding a mentor.55 As indicated
earlier, having a mentor is extremely important for one’s socialization and career
development. Thus, new hires should be proactive in finding a mentor if their organization does not have a formal mentoring program. Proactive socialization. The
process through which newcomers play an active role in their
own socialization through the use
of a number of proactive socialization tactics. 256 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Exhibit 8.5
tactics. Part Three Feedback-seeking. Requesting information about how one is performing one’s tasks and role.
Information-seeking. Requesting information about one’s job, role, group and organization. Sources: Ashford, S. J., & Black, J. S.
(1996). Proactivity during organizational entry: The role of desire for
control. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 81, 199–214; Feij, J. A.,
Whitely, W. T., Peiro, J. M, & Taris,
T. W. The development of careerenhancing strategies and content
innovation: A longitudinal study of
new workers. Journal of Vocational
Behavior, 46, 231–256; Griffin, A. E.
C., Colella, A., & Goparaju, S. (2000).
Newcomer and organizational socialization tactics: An interactionist perspective. Human Resource
Management Review, 10, 453–474. Observation. Observing and modelling the behaviour of appropriate others.
Behavioural self-management. Managing one’s socialization through self-observation,
self-goal setting, self-reward, and rehearsal.
Relationship building. Initiating social interactions and building relationships with other
members of the organization.
Job change negotiation. Attempts to change one’s job duties or the manner and means by
which one performs one’s job in order to increase the fit between oneself and the job.
Involvement in work-related activities. Participating in “extra-curricular” work-related
activities that are work-related but not part of one’s job.
Career-enhancing strategies. Engaging in behaviours to improve one’s career opportunities,
such as working on varied tasks and job assignments and seeking additional job
Informal mentor relationships. Forming relationships with experienced organization
members who act as informal mentors. One of the primary goals of socialization is to ensure that new employees learn
and understand the key beliefs, values, and assumptions of an organization’s culture, the topic we now turn to. Organizational Culture
The last several pages have been concerned with socialization into an organization.
To a large degree, the course of that socialization both depends on and shapes the
culture of the organization. Let us examine culture, a concept that has gained the
attention of both researchers and practising managers. What Is Organizational Culture? Organizational culture. The
shared beliefs, values, and
assumptions that exist in an organization. At the outset, we can say that organizational culture is not the easiest concept to
define. Informally, culture might be thought of as an organization’s style, atmosphere, or personality. This style, atmosphere, or personality is most obvious when
we contrast what it must be like to work in various organizations such as IBM,
Nortel, WestJet, or the Toronto Blue Jays. Even from their mention in the popular
press, we can imagine that these organizations provide very different work environments. Thus, culture provides uniqueness and social identity to organizations.
More formally, organizational culture consists of the shared beliefs, values, and
assumptions that exist in an organization.56 In turn, these shared beliefs, values,
and assumptions determine the norms that develop and the patterns of behaviour
that emerge from these norms. The term shared does not necessarily mean that
members are in close agreement on these matters, although they might well be.
Rather, it means that they have had uniform exposure to them and have some minimum common understanding of them. Several other characteristics of culture are
■ Culture represents a true “way of life” for organizational members, who often
take its influence for granted. Frequently, an organization’s culture becomes
obvious only when it is contrasted with that of other organizations or when it
undergoes changes. Chapter 8 ■ ■ ■ 257 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture Because culture involves basic assumptions, values, and beliefs, it tends to be
fairly stable over time. In addition, once a culture is well established, it can
persist despite turnover among organizational personnel, providing social continuity.
The content of a culture can involve matters that are internal to the organization or external. Internally, a culture might support innovation, risk taking, or
secrecy of information. Externally, a culture might support “putting the customer first” or behaving unethically toward competitors.
Culture can have a strong impact on both organizational performance and
member satisfaction. Culture is truly a social variable, reflecting yet another aspect of the kind of
social influence that we have been discussing in this chapter. Thus, culture is not
simply an automatic consequence of an organization’s technology, products, or size.
For example, there is some tendency for organizations to become more bureaucratic
as they get larger. However, the culture of a particular large organization might support an informal, nonbureaucratic atmosphere.
Can an organization have several cultures? The answer is yes. Often, unique
subcultures develop that reflect departmental differences or differences in occupation or training.57 A researcher who studied Silicon Valley computer companies
found that technical and professional employees divided into “hardware types” and
“software types.” In turn, hardware types subdivided into engineers and technicians, and software types subdivided into software engineers and computer scientists. Each group had its own values, beliefs, and assumptions about how to design
computer systems.58 Effective organizations will develop an overarching culture that
manages such divisions. For instance, a widely shared norm might exist that, in
effect, says, “We fight like hell until a final design is chosen, and then we all pull
together.” Subcultures. Smaller cultures
that develop within a larger organizational culture that are based
on differences in training, occupation, or departmental goals. The “Strong Culture” Concept
Some cultures have more impact on the behaviour of organizational members than
others. In a strong culture, the beliefs, values, and assumptions that make up the culture are both intense and pervasive across the organization.59 In other words, the
beliefs, values, and assumptions are strongly supported by the majority of members,
even cutting across any subcultures that might exist. Thus, the strong culture provides great consensus concerning “what the organization is about” or what it stands
for. In weak cultures, on the other hand, beliefs, values, and assumptions are less
strongly ingrained and/or less widely shared across the organization. Weak cultures
are thus fragmented and have less impact on organizational members. All organizations have a culture, although it might be hard to detect the details of weak cultures.
To firm up your understanding of strong cultures, let us consider thumbnail
sketches of three organizations that are generally agreed to have strong cultures.
■ ■ General Electric. Under the leadership of former CEO Jack Welch, this industrial giant, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, was transformed from a lethargic
and inward-looking company to a fleet-of-foot global competitor with an
openness to new ideas. GE became known for extremely high performance
standards and its goal to be first or second in the world in all its businesses.
WestJet. Since its inception in 1996, this Calgary-based company has turned a
consistent profit in the turbulent airline industry by focusing on low-cost,
short-distance flights. WestJet is known for fostering a family atmosphere
and a desire to maximize profits that have inspired extremely high employee
motivation and commitment. Interestingly, the airline and its culture are modelled after the successful Dallas-based airline, Southwest Airlines.60 Strong culture. An organizational culture with intense and
pervasive beliefs, values, and
www.westjet.com 258 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three Fun is an essential part of the
culture of Flight Centre, where
employees attend monthly
parties called “buzz nights.” ■ Flight Centre. Flight Centre is an Australia-based company that has 55 stores
and 350 employees in Eastern Canada. The company is known for its youthful
and energetic staff and for an egalitarian culture that is also fun and caring. In
fact, the company’s annual reports state that “Fun is an essential part of our
company.” Monthly parties and thank-you trips are part of a culture that some
employees jokingly refer to as a “cult.” The company has been profitable every
quarter since September 11, 2001.61 Three points are worth emphasizing about strong cultures. First, an organization
need not be big to have a strong culture. If its members agree strongly about certain
beliefs, values, and assumptions, a small business, school, or social service agency
can have a strong culture. Second, strong cultures do not necessarily result in blind
conformity. For example, a strong culture at 3M supports and rewards nonconformity in the form of innovation and creativity. Finally, General Electric, WestJet, and
Flight Centre are obviously successful organizations. Thus, there is a strong belief
that strong cultures are associated with greater success and effectiveness. To learn
more about the connection between culture and success, see “Applied Focus:
Company’s Beer Commercials Mimic Its Corporate Culture.” Assets of Strong Cultures
Organizations with strong cultures have several potential advantages over those
lacking such a culture.
Coordination. In effective organizations, the right hand (e.g., finance) knows
what the left hand (e.g., production) is doing. The overarching values and assumptions of strong cultures can facilitate such communication. In turn, different parts
of the organization can learn from each other and can coordinate their efforts. This
is especially important in decentralized, team-oriented organizations.
Comparing the General Motors Saturn organization to established GM divisions
provides a good contrast in cultural strength and coordination. Saturn, which has a
strong culture oriented toward customer service, received praise from the automotive press for its communication with customers and dealers when inevitable early Chapter 8 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture 259 Company’s Beer Commercials Mimic Its Corporate Culture If you think beer commercials depict a phoney world
in which young people are having way too much fun,
drop by Encore Encore Strategic Marketing Ltd. It not
only makes beer commercials. It could pass for one.
Its unique corporate culture—which stresses
good times, openness, and a healthy dose of hard
work—is one reason the small Toronto agency is
reeling in some big accounts, to the chagrin of
Canada’s advertising establishment.
Several years ago, it scooped the coveted Molson
Canadian brand assignment away from MacLaren
McCann Canada Inc., which had handled the brand
since the sixties.
Encore Encore’s head office, in a converted
Victorian-style home in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville
district, looks ordinary enough from the outside. But
its modus operandi is unusual, even in the self-conscious advertising world, where agencies wear their
coolness as a badge of honour.
How many agencies have a 1976 Airstream trailer
parked out back to serve as an extra office? Or a
black Labrador named Phoenix who wanders from
room to room, sniffing visitors? Or a vice-president
of marketing who, apart from bringing his dog to
work, looks like he just returned from the beach?
”Here, anything goes from a what-you-wear
standpoint. There’s not a lot of rules,” explains
Robert Peters who co-founded the agency in 1993
and sports a polo shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes
(minus socks). Mr. Peters, in addition to being a mar- keter, is an accomplished pianist who plays in Encore
Encore’s house band and, according to one company
employee, asked her to sing along while he played
Piano Man on the office piano during her job interview.
”Don’t get the idea Encore Encore is all fun and
games,” says co-founder Brad Weir. “It’s very casual,
very open, but very get-down serious when business
is to be done.” Its size (45 employees) and open culture gives it advantages over large agencies, he says.
With less bureaucracy, it can react quickly, and
clients have access to senior people, not just lowlevel staffers.
For all the emphasis on fun, employees say 10- or
12-hour days are not uncommon, particularly when
big projects come along, such as Molson Canadian.
Encore Encore’s ads for the beer, which feature the
tag line “Here’s where we get Canadian,” mimic its
own culture, offering liberal helpings of young
people, rock music, and good times.
Besides its accounts in Canada, Encore Encore
does about 25 percent of its work in the United
States, for clients such as Molson and Brown-Forman
Beverages Worldwide of Louisville, Kentucky, better
known as the maker of Jack Daniel’s whisky. Encore
Encore’s owners will not provide precise figures, but
they say revenue is between $5 and $10 million.
Source: Excerpted from Heinzl, J. (1999, May 26). At Encore, work
is like an ad. The Globe and Mail, p. M1. model quality problems cropped up. When quality problems arose with the new
Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, GM received praise for not shipping defective
cars, but it was criticized for not communicating well with customers and dealers.62
Ironically, GM developed Saturn, in part to serve as a cultural model for the established GM divisions that have long had rather fragmented cultures.
Conflict Resolution. You might be tempted to think that a strong culture would
produce strong conflicts within an organization—that is, you might expect the
intensity associated with strongly held assumptions and values to lead to friction
among organizational members. There might be some truth to this. Nevertheless,
sharing core values can be a powerful mechanism that helps to ultimately resolve
conflicts—a light in a storm as it were. For example, in a firm with a core value of
fanatical customer service, it is still possible for managers to differ about how to
handle a particular customer problem. However, the core value will often suggest an
appropriate dispute resolution mechanism—”Let’s have the person who is closest to
the customer make the final decision.”
Financial Success. Does a strong culture pay off in terms of dollars and cents—
that is, do the assets we discussed above get translated into bottom-line financial
success? The answer seems to be yes, as long as the liabilities discussed below can
be avoided. 260
Scores on organizational
culture values across six
Source: Sheridan, J. E. (1992).
Organizational culture and employee
retention. Academy Management
Journal, 35, 1036–1056. Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes 7.5 Part Three Firm
Detail Stability Innovation Work Task Values Team
Respect for Outcome Aggressiveness
People Achievement Interpersonal
Relationship Values Individual
Behaviour Values One study of insurance companies found that firms whose managers responded
more consistently to a culture survey (thus indicating agreement about the firm’s
culture) had greater asset and premium growth than those with disagreement.63
Another study had members of six international accounting firms complete a value
survey, the results of which you see in Exhibit 8.6. Because all firms were in the same
business, there is some similarity to their value profiles (e.g., attention to detail is
valued over innovation). However, close inspection shows that the six firms actually
differ a good deal in their value profiles. Firms E and F tended to emphasize the
work task values of detail and stability and to deemphasize a team orientation and
respect for people. Comparatively, firms A, B, and C tended to emphasize these
interpersonal relationship values. The author determined that firms E and F had
much higher employee turnover rates, a fact that was estimated to cost each
between $6 and $9 million a year, compared with firms A, B, and C.64
There is growing consensus that strong cultures contribute to financial success
and other indicators of organizational effectiveness when the culture supports the
mission, strategy, and goals of the organization.65 A good example of this is the discount airline WestJet. A key aspect of WestJet’s corporate culture is a universal
desire to maximize profits. The company has not only become one of the most profitable airlines in North America, but it is also the most successful low-cost carrier
in Canadian history. According to company CEO Clive Beddoe, WestJet’s corporate
culture is the primary reason for its extraordinary performance. “The entire environment is conducive to bringing out the best in people” he says, “It’s the culture
that creates the passion to succeed.”66 Liabilities of Strong Cultures
On the other side of the coin, strong cultures can be a liability under some circumstances.
Resistance to Change. The mission, strategy, or specific goals of an organization can change in response to external pressures, and a strong culture that was
appropriate for past success might not support the new order—that is, the strong
consensus about common values and appropriate behaviour that makes for a strong
culture can prove to be very resistant to change. This means that a strong culture
can damage a firm’s ability to innovate. Chapter 8 261 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture An excellent example is the case of IBM. A strong culture dedicated to selling
and providing excellent service for mainframe computers contributed to the firm’s
remarkable success. However, this strong culture also bred strong complacency that
damaged the company’s ability to compete effectively with smaller, more innovative
firms. IBM’s strong mainframe culture limited its competitiveness in desktop computing, software development, and systems compatibility.
Another good example is the sales culture of software giant Oracle Corporation,
which has been described as hyper-aggressive and tough-as-nails—the toughest ever
seen in the industry. Oracle salespeople have been accused of using brute-force tactics, heavy-handed sales pitches, and even routinely running roughshod over customers. Although the culture was once the envy of the industry and the major
reason Oracle became the world’s second-largest software company, the industry
has changed and now the culture has been described as its own worst enemy. CEO
Larry Ellison is trying to change the company’s aggressive sales culture, and one of
the first things he did was eliminate a long-established incentive system that encouraged furious sales pushes, over-promising, and steep discounts.67
Culture Clash. Strong cultures can mix as badly as oil and water when a merger
or acquisition pushes two of them together under the same corporate banner.68 Both
General Electric and Xerox, large organizations with strong cultures of their own,
had less than perfect experiences when they acquired small high-technology Silicon
Valley companies with unique cultures. The merger of BankAmerica and Security
Pacific resulted in a particularly strong culture clash. In each of these cases, the typical scenario concerns a freewheeling smaller unit confronting a more bureaucratic
The recent merger of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq also raised concerns about
a culture clash given the different work habits, attitudes, and strategies of the two
companies. For example, Hewlett-Packard is known for careful, methodical decision making while Compaq has a reputation for moving fast and correcting mistakes later. Hewlett-Packard is engineering-oriented and Compaq is sales-oriented.
The merger involved a vicious battle inside Hewlett-Packard that has been described
as a corporate civil war. Now that the companies have merged, employees who were
once rivals will have to work together and learn new systems. They will have to
resolve culture clashes and overcome the fact that more often than not, high-tech
mergers fail. This, however, is nothing new to Compaq. The company experienced
a culture clash when it merged with Digital Equipment Corp. in 1998. Many of the
promised benefits did not materialize, product decisions were not made quickly or
were changed, and confused customers took their business elsewhere.69
Pathology. Some strong cultures can threaten organizational effectiveness simply
because the cultures are, in some sense, pathological.70 Such cultures may be based
on beliefs, values, and assumptions that support infighting, secrecy, and paranoia,
pursuits that hardly leave time for doing business. The collapse of Enron has been
blamed in part on a culture that valued lies and deception rather than honesty and
truths, and the collapse of WorldCom has been attributed to a culture of secrecy and
blind obedience in which executives were encouraged to hide information from
directors and auditors and told to simply follow orders. The use of unethical and
fraudulent accounting practices was part and parcel of both cultures.71 To get a
better idea of the effect of a pathological culture on an organization, consider this
example of an unsuccessful semiconductor firm whose culture exhibited considerable paranoia.
The two founders took all kinds of precautions to prevent their ideas from being
stolen. They fragmented jobs and processes so that only a few key people in the
company really understood the products. They rarely subcontracted work. And
they paid employees very high salaries to give them an incentive to stay with the Oracle Corporation
www.oracle.com Security Pacific
www.compaq.com 262 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three firm. These three precautions combined to make Paratech’s costs among the
highest in the industry.72
www.nasa.gov Another example of a pathological culture is NASA’s culture of risk-taking.
Although the cause of the fatal crash of the Columbia space shuttle in February of
2003 was a chunk of foam about the size of a briefcase, the root cause was NASA’s
culture that downplayed space-flight risks and suppressed dissent. A report by the
Columbia Accident Investigation Board concluded that “NASA’s organizational culture had as much to do with this accident as foam did.” The report indicated that
the culture of NASA has sacrificed safety in the pursuit of budget efficiency and
tight schedules. One of the Board’s recommendations was that the “self-deceptive”
and “overconfident” culture be changed.73 Contributors to the Culture
How are cultures built and maintained? In this section, we consider two key factors
that contribute to the foundation and continuation of organizational cultures.
Before continuing, please consult You Be the Manager.
The Founder’s Role. It is certainly possible for cultures to emerge over time
without the guidance of a key individual. However, it is remarkable how many cultures, especially strong cultures, reflect the values of an organization’s founder.74
The imprint of Walt Disney on the Disney Company, Sam Walton on Wal-Mart, Ray
Kroc on McDonald’s, Thomas Watson on IBM, Frank Stronach on Magna
International, and Bill Gates on Microsoft is obvious. As we shall see shortly, such
imprint is often kept alive through a series of stories about the founder passed on to
successive generations of new employees. This provides continuing reinforcement of
the firm’s core values.
In a similar vein, most experts agree that top management strongly shapes the
organization’s culture. The culture will usually begin to emulate what top management “pays attention to.” For example, the culture of IBM today is much different
then it was under the leadership of Thomas Watson who created a culture that
reflected his own personality. Louis Gerstner Jr., who took over as CEO in 1993
until his retirement in 2002, made diversity a top priority. As a result, the culture of
IBM became a more people-friendly one in which individuals are valued more for CEO Frank Stronach of Magna
International is a classic
example of a founder whose
values have shaped the
organization’s culture. Chapter 8 263 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture Manager
You Be the How does the Walt
attract and retain
service? The Walt Disney Company empire includes the
Disney Studios, Disneyland Resort in California, the
Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and a lucrative
licensing arrangement for products based on Disney
characters. There is universal agreement that Disney
has been successful, especially in its theme parks and
associated resorts, by virtue of an unwavering dedication to excellent customer service.
By all appearances, the task does not seem easy.
The workforce is mostly young and not especially
well paid. They are particularly likely to be scheduled to work on busy holidays and vacation periods,
just when they would like to spend time with
friends and family. Much of the work itself is basically routine and boring (try uttering “Welcome,
Voyager” with conviction thousands of times a day
to the hordes who visit Space Mountain!). Also,
Disney has some of the most rigid grooming standards in the industry, forbidding beards, mustaches,
and dangling jewellery. The company even provides
samples of which basic black shoes are acceptable.
The image here is clean-cut and conservative.
If individuality is discouraged, all-American
friendliness is encouraged. Employees are expected
to be friendly, polite, courteous, and helpful when
they are in the presence of customers. They are told
that they are players in a live performance and are
part of a show in the Magic Kingdom. And all
employees are responsible for making the park
guests feel welcomed, special, and happy. Maintaining the Culture at the Magic
Kingdom Customers must feel that they are in a magical place
that is the most wonderful place in the world.
Disney relies heavily on promotion from within,
even in its management ranks. Its white-collar
turnover is low by any standard, and its turnover
rate is well below average for hourly service
employees. Disney has been so successful that firms
such as General Motors and DuPont have sent executives to Disney-sponsored seminars to understand
how Disney has managed to provide guests with
such a clean, pleasant, friendly environment for all
So, how does The Walt Disney Company attract
and retain service employees despite low pay, curtailed individuality, rigorous rules, and fairly routine
work while maintaining excellent customer service?
According to some people at Disney, a magic ingredient called “pixie dust” inspires employees to provide first-rate customer service. You be the
1. Is it possible for companies like The Walt Disney
Company to find employees who will be dedicated and committed to a strong corporate culture like Disney’s? How can The Walt Disney
Company make sure that the people they hire
will buy into the Disney culture?
2. Is it sufficient to hire the right people at Disney
and then expect them to live up to the company’s
values and provide excellent customer service?
What else should Disney do after employees have
been hired to ensure that they are dedicated and
committed to the Disney philosophy?
To find out Disney’s secret, see The Manager’s
Notebook at the end of the chapter.
Sources: Blocklyn, P. L. (1988, December). Making magic: The
Disney approach to people management. Personnel, pp. 28–35;
Burka, P. (1988, November 8). What they teach you at Disney U.
Fortune, Special advertising section; Solomon, C. M. (1989),
December). How does Disney do it? Personnel, 50–57; Van
Maanen, J. V., & Kunda, G. (1989). “Real feelings”: Emotional
expression and organizational culture. Research in Organizational
Behaviour, 11, 43–103. their unique traits, skills, and contributions—a sharp contrast to the culture of conformity under the leadership of Thomas Watson. Today, IBM is regarded as a leader
in workplace diversity.75
Sometimes, the culture begun by the founder can cause conflict when top management wishes to see an organization change directions. At Apple Computer, Apple Computer
www.apple.com 264 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three Steven Jobs nurtured a culture based on new technology and new products—innovation was everything. When top management perceived this strategy to be damaging profits, it introduced a series of controls and changes that led to Jobs’
resignation as board chair.76 At Oracle, where attempts are being made to change
the company’s aggressive sales culture, many people who are familiar with the company believe that to change the culture they must also change the CEO.
Socialization. The precise nature of the socialization process is a key to the culture that emerges in an organization because socialization is one of the primary
means by which individuals can learn the culture’s beliefs, values, and assumptions.
Weak or fragmented cultures often feature haphazard selection and a nearly random
series of job assignments that fail to present the new hire with a coherent set of experiences. On the other hand, Richard Pascale of Stanford University notes that organizations with strong cultures go to great pains to expose employees to a careful
step-by-step socialization process (Exhibit 8.7).77
■ ■ ■ Exhibit 8.7
Socialization steps in strong
Source: From Pascale, R. The paradox
of “corporate culture”: Reconciling
ourselves to socialization. Copyright
© 1985, by The Regents of the
University of California. Reprinted
from the California Management
Review, Vol. 27, No. 2. By permission
of The Regents. Step 1—Selecting Employees. New employees are carefully selected to obtain
those who will be able to adapt to the existing culture, and realistic job previews are provided to allow candidates to deselect themselves (a process
known as self-selection). As an example, Pascale cites Procter & Gamble’s
series of individual interviews, group interviews, and tests for brand management positions.
Step 2—Debasement and Hazing. Debasement and hazing provoke humility in
new hires so that they are open to the norms of the organization.
Step 3—Training “in the Trenches.” Training begins “in the trenches” so that
employees begin to master one of the core areas of the organization. For
example, even experienced M.B.A.s will start at the bottom of the professional
ladder to ensure that they understand how this organization works. At Lincoln
Electric, an extremely successful producer of industrial products, new M.B.A.s
literally spend eight weeks on the welding line so that they truly come to
understand and appreciate Lincoln’s unique shopfloor culture. At Trilogy START
Candidates DESELECT Consistent
Norms and Values In-the-Trenches
to Mastery of a
Core Discipline Reinforcing
Folklore Adherence to
Values Enables the
Sacrifices Rewards and
That Is Deemed
Pivotal to Success
in the Marketplace Chapter 8 ■ ■ ■ ■ 265 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture Software, the company chair dedicates three months to training new employees
so they can learn to become creative risk-takers.
Step 4—Reward and Promotion. The reward and promotion system is carefully used to reinforce those employees who perform well in areas that support
the goals of the organization.
Step 5—Exposure to Core Culture. Again and again, the culture’s core beliefs,
values, and assumptions are asserted to provide guidance for member behaviour. This is done to emphasize that the personal sacrifices required by the
socialization process have a true purpose.
Step 6—Organizational Folklore. Members are exposed to folklore about the
organization, stories that reinforce the nature of the culture. We examine this
in more detail below.
Step 7—Role Models. Identifying people as “fast-trackers” provides new members with role models whose actions and views are consistent with the culture.
These role models serve as tangible examples for new members to imitate. Pascale is careful to note that it is the consistency among these steps and their
mutually reinforcing properties that make for a strong culture. Given that they are
socializing theme park employees rather than rocket scientists, it is remarkable how
many of these tactics the Disney company (profiled earlier in the You Be the
Manager feature) uses. Selection is rigorous, and grooming standards serve as mild
debasement. Everyone begins at the bottom of the hierarchy. Pay is low, but promotion is tied to performance. Folklore stresses core values (“Walt’s in the park.”).
Better performers serve as role models at Disney University or in paired training. At
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, where the company wants new employees to buy
into the team philosophy and a “service mindset,” all new hires from hotel managers to dishwashers go through four interviews during the selection process and
once hired they enter a three-month socialization program.78 Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
www.fourseasons.com Diagnosing a Culture
Earlier, we noted that culture represents a “way of life” for organizational members.
Even when the culture is strong, this way of life might be difficult for uninitiated outsiders to read and understand. One way to grasp a culture is to examine the symbols,
rituals, and stories that characterize the organization’s way of life. For insiders, these
symbols, rituals, and stories are mechanisms that teach and reinforce the culture.
Symbols. At the innovative Chaparral Steel Company in Texas, employees have
to walk through the human resources department to get to their lockers. Although
this facilitates communication, it also serves as a powerful symbol of the importance
that the company places on its human resources. For years, IBM’s “respect for the
individual” held strong symbolic value that was somewhat shaken with its first-ever
layoffs. Such symbolism is a strong indicator of corporate culture.79
Some executives are particularly skilled at using symbols consciously to reinforce
cultural values. CEO Carl Reichardt of Wells Fargo is known as a fanatic cost cutter.
According to one story, Reichardt received managers requesting capital budget
increases while sitting in a tatty chair. As managers made their cases, Reichardt
picked at the chair’s exposed stuffing, sending a strong symbolic message of fiscal
austerity. This was in case they had missed the message conveyed by having to pay
for their own coffee and their own office Christmas decorations!80
Rituals. Observers have noted how rites, rituals, and ceremonies can convey the
essence of a culture.81 For example, at Tandem, a California computer company,
Friday afternoon “popcorn parties” are a regular ritual. (For years, these parties
were called “beer busts.” We will leave it up to you to decide whether this change Chaparral Steel
www.chaparralsteel.com Wells Fargo
www.wellsfargo.com 266 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Part Three of names is symbolic of a major cultural shift!) The parties reinforce a “work hard,
play hard” atmosphere and reaffirm the idea that weekly conflicts can be forgotten.
The Disney picnics, beach parties, and employee nights are indicative of a peer-oriented, youth-oriented culture. At Flight Centre, the monthly parties called “buzz
nights,” at which employees are recognized for their accomplishments, are indicative of a youthful, energetic, and fun culture. At Mary Kay Cosmetics, elaborate
“seminars” with the flavour of a Hollywood premiere combined with a revival
meeting are used to make the sales force feel good about themselves and the company. Pink Cadillacs and other extravagant sales awards reinforce the cultural
imperative that any Mary Kay woman can be successful. Rituals need not be so
exotic to send a cultural message. In some companies, the annual performance
review is an act of feedback and development. In others, it might be viewed as an
exercise in punishment and debasement.
Stories. As we noted earlier, the folklore of organizations—stories about past
organizational events—is a common aspect of culture. These stories, told repeatedly
to successive generations of new employees, are evidently meant to communicate
“how things work,” whether they are true, false, or a bit of both. Anyone who has
spent much time in a particular organization is familiar with such stories, and they
often appear to reflect the uniqueness of organizational cultures. However, research
indicates that a few common themes underlie many organizational stories.
www.mcdonalds.com Is the big boss human?
Can the little person rise to the top?
Will I get fired?
Will the organization help me when I have to move?
How will the boss react to mistakes?
How will the organization deal with obstacles?82 Issues of equality, security, and control underlie the stories that pursue these
themes. Also, such stories often have a “good” version, in which things turn out
well, and a “bad” version, in which things go sour. For example, there is a story that
Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder, cancelled a franchise after finding a single fly in the
restaurant.83 This is an example of a sour ending to a “how will the boss react to
mistakes?” story. Whether the story is true or not, its retelling is indicative of one of
the core values of the McDonald’s culture—a fanatical dedication to clean premises. Chapter 8 the manager’s Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture 267 Maintaining the Culture at the Magic Kingdom Notebook
The Walt Disney Company is an excellent example of
how an organization effectively communicates and
instills its cultural values. Disney does this through an
extensive selection process and an elaborate socialization and training program.
1. Before employees even begin to learn about the
Disney way, they must pass through a rigorous
selection process. Every applicant for an hourly
job at Disney is given an eight-to-ten minute preliminary interview. Because Disney’s strong corporate culture is not for everyone, a film is
shown to warn job candidates about Disney
expectations and the standards of grooming and
behaviour. Realistic job previews are used to
ensure that new hires have realistic expectations
about the work. Applicants who accept Disney’s
conditions of employment and pass the preliminary interview are then given a 45-minute job
interview. Elaborate group selection interviews
stress attitudes and personality over academic
credentials. During busy periods of the year, such
as Christmas and summer vacations, employees
from different areas of Disney assist in the hiring
of temporary employees. For salaried employees,
internal promotion is used to fill 60 to 80 percent
of positions, and a very careful and elaborate
selection process is used to fill the remaining 20
to 40 percent.
2. Once job applicants are accepted for a job at The
Walt Disney Company, they attend “Disney Learning Objectives Checklist
1. There are two basic forms of social dependence.
Information dependence means that we rely on
others for information about how we should think,
feel, and act. Effect dependence means that we rely
on rewards and punishments provided by others.
Both contribute to conformity to norms.
2. There are several motives for conformity to social
norms. One is compliance, in which conformity
occurs mainly to achieve rewards and avoid punish- University” and take the Traditions course, which
exposes them to the lingo and lore of Disney. In
the Disney vocabulary, they are hosts or cast
members, not employees, and customers are
guests. Similarly, their uniforms are costumes, and
they are “on stage” when they are in the public
part of the park. There are group tests (“Name
the Seven Dwarfs in Snow White”) to foster
teamwork. Cast members learn that their role in
making people happy includes picking up any
stray trash and being able to answer any conceivable question a guest asks. When everyone does
this, employees serve as role models for each
other. After the group training at Disney U.,
employees are assigned to experienced peers
who train them in the techniques of their specific
job assignment. This “paired training,” along
with the Traditions class, is much more extensive
than is typical in most service organizations. Thus,
guests have little reason to expect poor performance from a new cast member, who has been
well versed in Disney’s values regarding family
entertainment. Cast members who demonstrate
outstanding service and the traditional Disney
values are acknowledged with company and division awards. In the old days, the cry “Walt’s in the
park” would motivate cast members to do their
very best. Today, Disney U. trainers often exhort
students with “Walt’s always in the park now.”
The spirit lives. ment. It is mostly indicative of effect dependence.
Another motive for conformity is identification with
other group members. Here, the person sees himself
or herself as similar to them and relies on them for
information. Finally, conformity may be motivated
by the internalization of norms, and the person is no
longer conforming simply because of social dependence.
3. Socialization is the process by which people learn
the norms and roles that are necessary to function in
a group or organization. It is a process that involves
learning about one’s tasks, roles, group, and organi- 268 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes zation, and achieving high levels of person–job and
person–organization fit. Organizational members
learn norm and role requirements through three
stages of socialization: anticipatory, encounter, and
4. Realistic job previews can help new members cope
with initial unrealistic expectations. Orientation
programs introduce new employees to their job, the
people they will be working with, and the organization. Institutionalized socialization reflects a structured program of socialization and will help reduce
newcomers’ feelings of uncertainty. Individualized
socialization reflects a relative absence of structure
and the early work experiences of newcomers will be
more uncertain. Mentors can assist new members
during socialization and influence their career success by performing career and psychosocial functions. New members can play an active role in their
socialization through the use of proactive socialization tactics.
5. Organizational culture consists of the shared beliefs,
values, and assumptions that exist in an organization. Subcultures can develop that reflect departmental or occupational differences. In strong
cultures, beliefs, values, and assumptions are
intense, pervasive, and supported by consensus. An
organization’s founder and its socialization practices
can strongly shape a culture.
6. The assets of a strong culture include good coordination, appropriate conflict resolution, and financial
success. Liabilities of a strong culture include
inherent pathology, resistance to change, and culture
clash when mergers or acquisitions occur.
7. Symbols, rituals, and stories are often useful for
diagnosing a culture. Discussion Questions
1. Compare and contrast information dependence
with effect dependence. Under which conditions
should people be especially information dependent?
Under which conditions should people be especially
2. Describe an instance of social conformity that you
have observed in an organizational setting. Did
compliance, identification, or internalization motivate this incident? Were the results beneficial for
the organization? Were they beneficial to the individual involved?
3. Consider how you were socialized into the college
or university where you are taking your organiza- Part Three tional behaviour course. Did you have some unrealistic expectations? Where did your expectations
come from? What outside experiences prepared
you for college or university? Are you experiencing
institutionalized or individualized socialization?
What are some proactive socialization tactics that
you can employ to facilitate your socialization?
4. What are the pros and cons of providing realistic
job previews for a job that is objectively pretty
5. Imagine that you are starting a new business in the
retail trade. You are strongly oriented toward providing excellent customer service. What could you
do to nurture a strong organizational culture that
would support such a mission?
6. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of developing a strong organizational culture and some
socialization practices that you would recommend
for building a strong organizational culture.
7. Describe how you would design a new employee
orientation program. Be sure to indicate the content of your program and what knowledge and
information employees will acquire from attending
the program. What are some of the outcomes that
you would expect from your orientation program? Integrative Discussion Questions
1. What are the implications of social learning theory
for social influence and socialization? Discuss the
practical implications of each component of social
learning theory (i.e., modelling, self-efficacy, and
self-management) for the socialization of new organization members. Describe how you would design
an orientation program for new employees based
on social learning theory.
2. Refer to the models of attitude change described in
Chapter 4. What are the implications of each
model for changing an organization’s culture? If
you wanted to change the culture of an organization, what would be the best approach? Experiential Exercise
The Organizational Culture—Values Survey
The purpose of the Organizational Culture–Values Survey is
for you to learn about those values that are most important to
you and to develop a values profile of yourself. You can also
compare your values with those of a current or previous organization where you were employed. By comparing the rank- Chapter 8 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture 269 ob FLASHBACK
The Effect of Culture on Learning
In Chapter 2, a number of organizational learning
practices were described including organizational
behaviour modification, employee recognition programs, training and formal learning, informal
learning, and career development. These practices
are often used by organizations so that employees
learn new skills and change their behaviour.
However, research has shown that they are not
always effective. For example, research on training
has found that employees do not always apply what
they learn in training back on the job.
The degree to which employees apply the knowledge, skills, and behaviours acquired in training onthe-job is known as the transfer of training. Over
the years, training researchers have noted the relatively low rates of transfer of training and some
have suggested that there exists a transfer problem
in organizations. Why do you think that training
programs sometimes fail to transfer?
J. Bruce Tracey, Scott Tannenbaum, and Michael
Kavanagh suggested that in order for training to
transfer, the culture of an organization must support learning. In particular, they suggested that a
critical factor in the transfer of training is the extent
to which an organization has a continuous-learning
culture. A continuous-learning culture is a culture in
which the members of an organization share perceptions and expectations that learning is an important part of everyday work life. These perceptions
and expectations constitute important organizational values and beliefs, and they are influenced by
a number of factors such as challenging jobs; supportive social, reward, and development systems;
and an innovative and competitive work setting. In
a continuous-learning culture, knowledge and skill
acquisition is the responsibility of every employee
and supported by social interaction and work relationships. Learning is a taken-for-granted part of
every job in the organization. Thus, a continuouslearning culture is one component of an organization’s overall culture that promotes the acquisition,
application, and sharing of knowledge, skills, and
behaviours through a variety of means and sources. ings of each list you can determine the degree of person-organization fit between your values and those of the organization.
First, rank the values in the order of most importance to
you. Place the number 1 next to the value you feel is most
important and the number 16 next to the one you think is To investigate the effects of a continuouslearning culture on employee learning and behaviour, the authors conducted a study in 52 stores of a
large supermarket chain. The sample included 104
store managers who attended a three-day training
program on basic supervisory behaviour and skills
that included interpersonal skills, such as customer
and employee relations, and various administrative
procedures. Following the training, the trainees as
well as members of their work group, including
their supervisors and four or five of their managerial coworkers, completed a questionnaire to measure the degree to which there exists a
continuous-learning culture. At approximately 6 to
8 weeks after training, trainees’ supervisor completed a questionnaire to measure their use and
application of the trained supervisory skills and
The results indicated that the manager trainees’
use and application of the supervisory training skills
and behaviours on-the-job was strongly influenced
by the degree to which they work in a continuouslearning culture. In particular, trainees who worked
in a continuous-learning culture were more likely to
use and apply the trained supervisory skills and
behaviours on the job. Thus, a continuous-learning
culture was a major factor in the transfer of
This research is a good example of the importance of an organization’s culture for learning. It is
also a good demonstration of the influence of the
situation on employee learning and behaviour. In
particular, the results indicate that the work environment plays a critical role in employee learning
and the application of newly acquired knowledge,
skills, and behaviour on the job. Thus, to be most
effective, organizational learning practices must be
supported by a learning culture. Source: Adapted from Tracey, J. B., Tannenbaum, S. I., &
Kavanagh, M. J. (1995). Applying trained skills on the job: The
importance of the work environment. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 80, 239–252. Copyright by the American Psychological
Association. Adapted with permission. least important. Then number the second and fifteenth and so
on. Second, do the same thing for your current organization if
you are employed or the most recent organization where you
were last employed. 270 Social Behaviour and Organizational Processes Your Values Organizational Values _____ Ambition ____ Ambition Difference
_______ Part Three 1. How different are your values from the values of your
organization, and what are the implications of this for
your job attitudes and behaviour?
2. How can an understanding of the values that are most
important to you assist in your decision to join an organization? _____ Broadmindedness ____ Broadmindedness _______ _____ Competence ____ Competence _______ _____ Cheerfulness ____ Cheerfulness _______ _____ Cleanliness ____ Cleanliness _______ Case Incident _____ Courage ____ Courage _______ The Reality Shock _____ Helpfulness ____ Helpfulness _______ _____ Honesty ____ Honesty _______ _____ Imagination ____ Imagination _______ _____ Independence ____ Independence _______ _____ Intelligence _____ Intelligence _______ _____ Obedience _____ Obedience _______ _____ Politeness _____ Politeness _______ _____ Responsibility _____ Responsibility _______ 3. What are the implications for organizations that hire
employees whose values differ from those of the organization, and what should they do about it? Soon after starting his new job, Jason began to wonder about
the challenging work he was supposed to be doing, the great
co-workers he was told about, and the ability to attend
training and development programs. None of these things
seemed to be happening as he had expected. To make matters
worse, he had spent most of the first month working on his
own and reading about the organization’s mission, history,
policies, and so on. Jason was beginning to wonder if this was
the right job and organization for him. He was feeling very
dissatisfied and seriously thinking about quitting.
1. Explain how Jason’s anticipatory socialization might be
contributing to his disappointment and job attitudes. How
might this situation have been prevented?
2. Given Jason’s current situation, is there anything the organization can do to prevent him from quitting? Is there anything they should do so other new hires don’t have the
same experience as Jason? Case Study
_____ Self-control _____ Self-control _______ _____ Tolerance _____ Tolerance _______ Scoring and Interpretation
Compare your values profile to the values orientation of your
organization. For each value, calculate the difference between
the two rankings in the space indicated, and then calculate a
total difference score. A small difference indicates a better
person-organization fit between your values and those of your
organization. Large differences indicate a lack of person-organization fit or a mismatch. Research indicates that a good
person-organization fit between an employee’s values and
those of the organization is positively related to job attitudes
and work behaviour.
To facilitate class discussion and your understanding of
values and organizational culture, consider the following issues.
Source: The scale is from Hoffman, R., & Ruemper, F. (1997).
Organizational Behaviour: Canadian Cases and Exercises, 3rd ed.
Toronto: Captus Press. Changing the Culture at AMR Corp. and
Fort Worth–based AMR Corp. and American Airlines are on
a roll. In 1998, it had record profits and record revenues.
American was the second-largest airline in the world, the most
profitable by a wide margin and a market dominator.
Travellers were practically fighting for the right to buy tickets,
and ticket prices were some of the highest since deregulation
20 years ago. In fact, by virtually every measure, one could
fairly say that there had never been a better time in American’s
history. With all this good news, you would think that CEO
Don Carty would be happy to maintain the status quo.
But Canadian-born Carty is trying something new, something that has never been done at American. He is trying to
change the way the company’s 120,000 employees feel about
their company. He wants the American of the not-too-distant
future to be not only a great airline, but also a great airline to
“American’s people have always had great pride in the company, at least when talking to others outside the company. Chapter 8 Social Influence, Socialization, and Culture That’s a legacy from the days of Mr. C. R.,” Carty said, referring to C. R. Smith, American’s paternalistic founder, who
served as chief executive for 35 years. “But it’s really more than
that. This company has always had that sense of ‘eliteness’.”
Unfortunately, Carty said, that sense of being part of an
elite, trail-blazing standard-setting company has rarely been
translated into the kind of “love” for the company that
employees of industry maverick Southwest Airlines, for
example, seem to have for their company. “And that is management’s fault,” he said.
“Even though most of our people are very proud to be a
part of this very well-known, well-respected company, some,
maybe even most, of our people have just never had a sense
that this was a great place to work because they never felt that
management cared about them,” he said.
So, Carty is trying to change that, to make American—and
AMR—a company that its people can love because it is a company that cares about and responds to their needs. He wants
to create a kinder, gentler corporate culture. To that end, he
spent much of his first eight months as CEO preaching to
workers and managers alike about the importance of building
not only professional skills and competencies, but also the
enthusiasm and the love and respect for each other that he
believes has been missing within American.
Few within the company doubt Carty’s sincerity. But in the
minds of some, he still has to overcome his long association
with former CEO Robert Crandall, whose success was always
shadowed by the deep dislike many employees had for him. “It
goes all the way back to C. R. Smith, who while paternalistic
and caring in his own way, was very tough and no-nonsense,”
said Edward Starkman, an analyst at SBC Warburg Dillion
Read. “And that attitude was certainly expanded on by both Al
Casey and Bob Crandall after C. R. American has always been
managed with an ‘inside-out approach.’ It has done what it has
wanted to in order to achieve its corporate goals and has given
customers and employees only what management thought they
needed in order for the company to achieve its corporate
goals.” Carty is promoting “a very big change in the fundamental character of the company,” Starkman said.
“Personally, I believe Don Carty is sincere,” said Rich La
Voy, president of the 9,000-member Allied Pilots Association
at American. “He is changing the tone of conversations. We
have cordial, civil conversations. Nobody is screaming at each
other. On that level, the relationship is good and getting
better.” “I think most everybody involved with him from our
organization likes the guy personally. But they also know that
he was never more than an arm’s length away from every decision ever made up there before. So they’re waiting to see if
he’ll really do what he said.”
According to Jack Britain, a professor of management at
the University of Texas at Dallas and a consultant on managing culture, organizational, and economic change, “There
has been such a strong command-and-control culture in that
organization that everybody is reluctant to step out and take
risks, exercise initiative. If Mr. Carty can, by tweaking the corporate culture there, unlock that potential, then real productivity improvements and service quality improvements can be
made. And that, no doubt, would find its way to the company’s bottom line.”
Indeed, Carty said he believes that employees who are
happy and feel secure will deliver better customer service. 271 “Look, I don’t think we’ve focused hard enough on it in the
past,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about the importance of
service. We’ve trained. We’ve spent a lot of money on training
and on the selection of our people. We’ve paid our people a lot
And although he said he believes American employees
deliver better service than the company’s domestic competitors, “I don’t think we’ve fully marshalled and harnessed the
capability of our people by building the kind of enthusiasm
we’re capable of building for this company. I believe the
employees do love this company and they just want to be
turned on,” Carty said. He believes that if they can turn on
their employees and engender their enthusiasm, “they will
help us find ways to provide better service and ways to save
money doing it.”
For any company that has a reputation for being less than
employee-friendly, creating change is a big task. For
American, it is a mammoth undertaking, one that will take
years to complete, if ever. That is because employee attitudes
grow out of a corporate culture that, in many cases, is older
than the employees themselves and which has been strongly
reinforced over the years.
Carty says he already sees a glimmer of change in
employees’ attitudes. He cites as evidence the rejection by the
airline’s 14,000 airport and reservations agents of the
Communications Workers of America’s effort to unionize
“We have been working diligently to create a culture of
cooperation and enthusiasm among all employees,” Carty
said. “I believe the result of this election is a message from our
passenger-service agents that we are moving in the right direction.”
Yet, Carty said he knows it will take more than talk to
make permanent changes to the corporate culture of a company as large, as diverse, and as spread out as American. “The
ultimate measure of whether or not we’re managing the company consistent with what we say is going to be our behaviour,
not our words.”
Source: Reed, D. (1996). Changing the company-worker relationship. The Gazette, 20 August, p. 17. (Reprinted with permission of
Knight Rider/Tribune Information Services). 1. Compare and contrast the “old” culture of AMR Corp.
and American Airlines and the “new” culture that Don
Carty wants to create.
2. Do you think that Don Carty should change the culture at
AMR Corp. and American Airlines? Is a change in culture
likely to improve employee attitudes and the quality of
service? Will it improve productivity?
3. Comment on some of the things that Don Carty is doing
to change the culture. How effective do you think his
approach is for changing the company’s culture?
4. What are some of the major obstacles facing Don Carty in
his attempt to change the company’s culture?
5. What are some of the things that Don Carty should do in
order to change the culture? If it were up to you, would
you want to change the culture, and if so, what are some
of the things that you would do? ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/01/2010 for the course FGT mba12ehtp taught by Professor Angwi during the Spring '10 term at Télécom Paris.
- Spring '10