Rookies Connected: Interpersonal Relationships Among Newcomers, Newcomer Adjustment Processes, and Socialization Outcomes

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Abstract

How do relationships among newcomers in the same cohort impact how quickly they develop clear understandings of their new roles and, ultimately, key socialization outcomes? We study newcomers’ relationships with cohort members in the same unit (i.e., intra-unit relationships) and those in different units (i.e., inter-unit relationships). While organizations invest substantial time and resources in promoting broad networking among newcomers, we offer a theoretical and empirical account of how too many connections among fellow newcomers early in the socialization process can slow their adjustment—namely, their growth in role clarity. In Study 1, we surveyed 189 newcomers in an international conglomerate from their orientations through their first 4 months and linked responses to 3 years of their job performance and turnover records. After controlling for the initial level of role clarity, we found an inverted U-shaped relationship between newcomers’ intra-unit peer connections and growth in role clarity, whereas their inter-unit peer connections did not significantly relate to growth in role clarity. Growth in role clarity positively related to subsequent newcomers’ job satisfaction and job performance,which were then negatively related to turnover. Study 2’s results indicated that sensemaking with fellow newcomers operated as a key mechanism linking the nonlinear relationships between intra-unit newcomer–newcomer relationships and growth in role clarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-388
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume107
Issue number3
Early online dateMay 13 2021
DOIs
StatePublished - May 13 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Le Zhou, John D. Kammeyer-Mueller, Priti Pradhan Shah, and Elizabeth M. Campbell, Department of Work and Organizations, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Jin Park, College of Business, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Academy of Management annual conference. Data collection was funded in part by Dean’s Small Research Grants from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. The authors are grateful to Dr. Chun Keun Lee at Yonam College, LG Academy and LG Corporation in South Korea for his support for this research project. Zhou’s and Campbell’s work on this research was supported in part by the Lawrence Fellowship from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. Zhou’s and Kammeyer-Mueller’s work on this research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (grant #1533151).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Newcomer adjustment
  • Role clarity
  • Social networks
  • Socialization

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