Chapter 8 Social Influence, Socialization, and
Culture I. Social Influence in Organizations
People often feel or act differently from how they would as independent operators as a result
of social influence. This is because in many social settings, and especially in groups, people
are highly dependent on others. This dependence sets the stage for influence to occur.
A. Information Dependence and Effect Dependence
All of us need information from others and we are frequently highly dependent on others for
information about the adequacy and appropriateness of our behaviour, thoughts, and feelings.
Information dependence refers to our reliance on others for information about how to think,
feel, and act. It gives others the opportunity to influence our thoughts, feelings, and actions
via the signals they send to us.
Individuals are also dependent on the effects of their behaviour as determined by the rewards
and punishments provided by others. This effect dependence is the reliance on others due to
their capacity to provide rewards and punishment. It occurs because the group has a vested
interest in how individual members think and act, and the member desires the approval of the
II. 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.
A. Motives for Social Conformity
Conformity is the tendency for group members to conform to the norms that have been
established by the group. There are a number of different motives for conformity.
Compliance. Members might conform because of compliance which 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
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. 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.
Internalization. Some conformity to norms occurs because individuals have truly and wholly
accepted the beliefs, values, and attitudes that underlie the norm. Internalization occurs
when individuals have truly and wholly accepted the beliefs, values, and attitudes that
underlie the norm.
B. The Subtle Power of Compliance
In some cases, individuals conform to norms which they do not support. Much of this occurs
because of social pressures and the desire to please others. But compliance often sets the
stage for the more complete involvement with organizational norms and roles implicit in the
stages of identification and internalization.
III. Organizational Socialization Socialization is the process by which people learn the norms and roles that are necessary to
function in a group or organization. Socialization methods (realistic job previews, employee
orientation programs, socialization tactics, mentoring, proactive tactics) influence immediate
or proximal socialization outcomes such as learning, task mastery, social integration, role
conflict, role ambiguity, and person–job and person–organization fit. Proximal outcomes lead
to distal or longer-term outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment,
organizational identification, organizational citizenship behaviour, job performance, stress, and
An important goal of socialization is to help newcomers assimilate and fit into the organization.
Person-job fit refers to the match between an employee’s knowledge, skills, and abilities and
the requirements of a job. Person-organization fit refers to the match between an
employee’s personal values and the values of an organization. Research has found that both
P-J and P-O fit are strongly related to the work adjustment of new hires.
Socialization is an ongoing process by virtue of continuous interaction with others in the
workplace. However, socialization is most potent during periods of membership transition,
such as when one joins a new organization.
A. Stages of Socialization
Since organizational socialization is an ongoing process, it is useful to divide this process into
three stages. 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.
Anticipatory Socialization. A considerable amount of socialization occurs even before a person
joins an organization. This process is called anticipatory socialization. However, not all
anticipatory socialization is accurate and useful for the new member.
Encounter. In the encounter stage, the new recruit encounters the day-to-day reality of
organizational life. 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. Recruits are interested in having their personal needs and
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. This stage is referred to as role management. The role occupants might now
begin to internalize the norms and values that are prominent in the organization.
B. Unrealistic Expectations and the Psychological Contract
People join organizations with expectations about what membership will be like and what they
expect to receive in return for their efforts. Unfortunately, these expectations are often
unrealistic and obligations between new members and organizations are often breached.
Unrealistic Expectations. Although people have expectations about their jobs in organizations,
many such expectations held by entering members are inaccurate and often unrealistically
high. At times, the media is responsible. At other times corporate recruiters paint rosy pictures
in order to attract job candidates to the organization.
Psychological Contract. When people join organizations, they also have ideas about what they
expect to receive from the organization and what they plan to give the organization in return.
Such perceptions form what is known as the psychological contract and refers to beliefs
held by employees concerning their reciprocal obligations between them and their organization.
Unfortunately, psychological contract breach appears to be a common occurrence in organizations. Perceptions of psychological contract breach occur when an employee perceives
that his or 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.
IV. Methods of Socialization
Organizations differ in the extent to which they make use of other organizations to help
socialize their members. The strategy of reliance on external agents is often used by
organizations to help socialize their members. Thus, hospitals rely on medical schools to
socialize doctors, while business firms rely on business schools to send them recruits who
think and act in a business-like manner. On the other hand, organizations such as police
forces, the military, and religious institutions are less likely to rely on external socializers.
Organizations that handle their own socialization are especially interested in maintaining the
continuity and stability of job behaviours over a period of time. Thus, organizations differ in
terms of who does the socializing, how it is done, and how much is done.
A. Realistic Job Previews
Realistic job previews provide a balanced, realistic picture of the positive and negative
aspects of the job to job applicants. When used properly, these previews can reduce
unrealistic expectations on the part of new organizational members, reduce turnover, and
improve job performance.
B. Employee Orientation Programs
Employee 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 convey and form the psychological contract, and to teach
newcomers how to cope with stressful work situations. Orientation programs can have a
lasting effect on the job attitudes and behaviours of new hires and they can also lower
C. Socialization Tactics
Socialization tactics refer to the manner in which organizations structure the early work
experiences of new members. There are six socialization tactics that vary on a bipolar
continuum and include:
Collective versus Individual Tactics. A number of new members are socialized as a group,
going through the same experiences and facing the same challenges.
Formal versus Informal Tactics. Formal tactics involve segregating newcomers from regular
organizational members and providing them with formal learning experiences during the
period of socialization.
Sequential versus Random Tactics. The sequential tactic involves 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. Fixed socialization consists of a timetable for the assumption of
the role. Serial versus Disjunctive Tactics. The serial tactic refers to a process where newcomers are
socialized by experienced members of the organization.
Investiture versus Divestiture Tactics. Divestiture tactics refer to what is also known as
debasement and hazing. Organizations put new members through a series of experiences that
are designed to humble them and strip away some of their initial self-confidence.
Institutionalized versus Individualized Socialization. The six socialization tactics 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 reduces
newcomers’ feelings of uncertainty. Individualized socialization reflects a relative absence of
structure and so the early work experiences of newcomers are somewhat uncertain. The
tactics can also been distinguished in terms of the context in which information is presented to
new hires, the content provided to new hires, and the social aspects of socialization.
Institutionalized socialization tactics are effective in promoting organizational loyalty, esprit de
corps, and uniformity of behaviour among those being socialized. When socialization is
individualized, new members are more likely to take on the particular characteristics and style
of their socializers. Therefore, uniformity is less likely under individualized socialization.
Research Evidence. Institutionalized socialization tactics have been found to be related to
proximal outcomes, such as lower role ambiguity and conflict and more positive perceptions of
P–J and P–O fit, as well as more distal outcomes, such as more positive job satisfaction and
organizational commitment and lower stress and turnover. In addition, the institutionalized
socialization tactics result in a more custodial role orientation in which new hi