Table of Contents
Last updated February 19, 2000
SPRING 2001 THEORY WORKBOOK
Socialization / Assimilation in Organizations
Explanation of Theory:
The Organizational Assimilation Theory attempts to explain how individuals
new to an organization (newcomers) assimilate into the organization by
using communication. Jablin describes three stages that occur as
one enters an organization as Anticipatory Socialization, the Encounter
Stage, and Metamorphosis. An individual's socialization into an organization
determines his/her success within the organization.
Theorist: Fred Jablin
Jablin, F.M. (1982). Organizational communication: An assimilation approach. In M.E. Roloff & C.R. Berger (Eds.), Social cognition and communication, p. 255-286.
As with most Systems Based theories, Organization Assimilation theory has
its feet planted firmly on both sides of the fence which separates both
the scientific and the humanistic qualities that help us to define theory.
Ideas and Implications:
Organizational assimilation theory is a very well thought out and described
theory. This Analytic consistency is one of its best qualities.
It attempts to make sense out of the world of organizational socialization
and begins by describing the values that human beings place upon different
work positions and their feelings about certain companies. The Methodological
rigor is excellent. This theory has been well tested and defined.
There is Intuitive credibility at work here, and the theory helps us to
make sense of our world. Jablin describes people's expectations of
the workplace or job itself as a possible detriment to assimilation.
This theory is strong on Heuristic Value. It can be tested and improved
upon, and is still relevant almost twenty years after its original conception.
wants to go and work for an organization he has known about his whole life.
Her father worked there, and after she graduates from college, she expects
to work there, too. Terry's comfort level is high because she feels
familiar with the organization and its goals. These feelings describe
Terry's ANTICIPATORY SOCIALIZATION which is the first part of the process
everyone goes through before they enter into an organization. Terry's
expectations of the organization can either be a help or a hindrance to
her work life. When Terry is finally hired by the company, she begins
the ENCOUNTER process. She learns about the organization and its
expectations of her--the good, the bad, and the ugly. The people
that she encounters the most in this early stage help to define her encounter
process. People in the office that attempt to help her "get to know"
the company and its expectations play an important role to her along the
way. The METAMORPHOSIS that occurs here is one of Terry's defining
points of her role within the organization.
Mignerey, J.T. & Rubin, R.B. (1995). Organizational entry: An investigation of newcomer communication behavior and uncertainty. Communication Research 22 (1), 54-86.
Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:
Anderson, R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. N/A
Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 255-56.
Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. N/A.
Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. N/A.
Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. 342-43.
Littlejohn, S. W. (1999). Theories of human communication (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A
West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2000). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. 383. (mentioned only.)
Wood, J. T. (1997). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A.