Proactive Socialisation: a Longitudinal Investigation of Newcomer Adjustment Inside Both an Institutionalised and Individualised Workplace
This thesis adopted a unique approach to the exploration of proactive socialisation and the processes by which a newcomer moves from organisational outsider to insider. Although socialisation involves actions by the individual, the work group, and the organisation, this study is one of the first to investigate how these actions work in tandem to support the adjustment of organisational newcomers. Research was conducted with a group of 526 participants, drawn from a pool of New Zealand Police (NZ Police) recruits and graduate employees. A quantitative method for data gathering was adopted, with questionnaires administered over a 15-month period for police recruits and 6-month period for graduate newcomers. Results indicated that prior work quality and quantity, job interest, proactive personality, team support, and leader-member exchange each had an important role to play in the prediction of newcomer role breadth self-efficacy. In turn, newcomers who felt confident in their ability to carry out a broader and more proactive role also enjoyed a higher level of task mastery and group fit. The successful achievement of these proximal outcomes led to other, more distal outcomes, namely performance and organisational commitment. Each of these outcomes was achieved, regardless of the socialising tactics employed by the hiring organisation. An important feature of this thesis was the design and delivery of a training intervention that was aimed at coaching newcomers in a range of proactive behaviours (i.e., information-seeking, feedback-seeking, positive framing, relationship building, networking, listening, and observation/modeling). Results found that the longitudinal pattern of proaction differed for newcomers in response to the socialising tactics adopted by the organisation. Results also indicated that the impact of training on future proaction was most potent for individuals who already had an elevated level of role breadth self-efficacy, thereby pointing to the importance of building an employee' perception of their own capability. Training was also most effective when key messages were repeated over multiple sessions, and integrated into the solving of realworld tasks. These results challenge previous studies that have assumed proactivity to be a stable construct over time. Beyond contributing to the literature on newcomer socialisation, this thesis goes some way to clarifying why proactive people actually succeed. It would seem that proactive people expect to be successful, thereby making a training intervention more useful. This thesis also challenges prior research that assumes certain adjustment outcomes are dependent on the socialising tactics adopted by the hiring organisation. Thus, rather than passively adapt to their environment, this research shows how a newcomer can actively shape their own socialising experience. A number of methodological weaknesses found in previous studies have been addressed in this thesis. It also presents a number of practical implications to support the pre-entry, initial entry, and long-term adjustment of seasoned newcomers, versus graduate Generation Y employees. Multiple options for future research are also considered.