In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Socialization

  • Introduction
  • Review Articles
  • Stage Models of Socialization
  • Socialization and Stress
  • Socialization Learning Content
  • Socialization Content Measures
  • Socialization Outcomes
  • Socialization Tactics
  • Realistic Job Previews
  • Orientation Programs
  • Newcomer Training
  • Socialization Agents
  • Leadership and Manager Behaviors
  • Mentoring and Socialization
  • Social Capital and Networks
  • Job Characteristics
  • Information Seeking
  • Proactive Socialization

Management Socialization
Alan M. Saks
  • LAST REVIEWED: 09 November 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 August 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0107


Organizational socialization is the process through which a new member of an organization learns the required attitudes and behaviors that are necessary to be an effective member of an organization. It is a dynamic process through which a newcomer makes the transition from an outsider to an insider. Organizational socialization not only influences newcomers’ immediate attitudes and behaviors, but it also can have long lasting effects on career outcomes and trigger a cycle of success or failure.

Review Articles

Several review articles have been published on organizational socialization over the last four decades. These articles generally review the research on socialization practices and processes and often integrate different streams of research to develop a model of the socialization process. The first comprehensive review of organizational socialization was in Fisher 1986, examining several areas of research and providing suggestions for future research that led to many new developments and research streams. Ten years after Fisher’s review, Saks and Ashforth 1997 noted a remarkable resurgence of organizational socialization research. The article reviewed six major areas of research and developed a multilevel process model of organizational socialization. Bauer, et al. 1998 begins with a summary of the main conclusions of Fisher 1986, then provides an update of the areas covered in Fisher’s review. Griffin, et al. 2000 integrates two streams of socialization research (i.e., the individual and organizational approaches) and offers an interactionist perspective of organizational socialization. Cooper-Thomas and Anderson 2006 focuses on organization and individual initiatives and develops a multilevel learning-focused model on newcomer learning, while Ashforth, et al. 2007 reviews five perspectives of socialization research and offers an integrative model in which socialization content or newcomer learning links socialization processes to newcomer adjustment. Finally, Chao 2012 reviews the processes, content, and outcomes of organizational socialization and offers a blueprint for future research.

  • Ashforth, Blake E., David M. Sluss, and Spencer H. Harrison. “Socialization in Organizational Contexts.” International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 22 (2007): 1–70.

    Reviews five perspectives of socialization research: early roots of socialization research, socialization stage models, Socialization Tactics, socialization content (newcomer learning), and newcomer proactivity. Provides an integrative model of the major socialization perspectives and considers crosscurrents themes in socialization research.

  • Bauer, Talya N., Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison, and Ronda R. Callister. “Organizational Socialization: A Review and Directions for Future Research.” Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management 16 (1998): 149–214.

    This review continues from where Fisher 1986 left off; in addition to providing an update of the issues covered by Fisher, it also covers several newer topics in the socialization literature such as new measures of socialization, socialization tactics, and newcomer proactive behaviors. A section on socialization in a changing world covers issues such as cultural diversity, socialization differences across national cultures, temporary employment relationships, and the implications of downsizing for socialization.

  • Chao, Georgia T. “Organizational Socialization: Background, Basics, and a Blueprint for Adjustment at Work.” In The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Psychology. Edited by S. W. J. Kozlowski, 579–614. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    Reviews four theoretical perspectives that represent the foundation of organizational socialization (uncertainty reduction theory, the need to belong, social exchange theory, and social identity theory) as well as the processes, content, and outcomes of organizational socialization. Provides a model as a blueprint for organizational research and a series of research recommendations.

  • Cooper-Thomas, Helena D., and Neil Anderson. “Organizational Socialization: A New Theoretical Model and Recommendations for Future Research and HRM Practices in Organizations.” Journal of Managerial Psychology 21.5 (2006): 492–516.

    DOI: 10.1108/02683940610673997

    Provides a review of the literature on organizational factors (e.g., socialization tactics) and individual factors (e.g., Information Seeking) in relation to indicators of success, and develops a multilevel learning-focused model of organizational socialization that consists of learning domains, learning sources, and success indicators.

  • Fisher, Cynthia D. “Organizational Socialization: An Integrative Review.” In Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management. Vol. 4. Edited by K. M. Rowland and G. R. Ferris, 101–145. Greenwich, CT: JAI, 1986.

    First major review article of organizational socialization. This review discusses methodological issues (design, samples, and data collection methods); the content of socialization or what is learned (i.e., preliminary learning, learning about the organization, learning to function in the work group, learning to do the job, and personal learning); outcomes of the socialization process; the process of socialization; and in-role socialization.

  • Griffin, Andrea E. C., Adrienne Colella, and Srikanth Goparaju. “Newcomer and Organizational Socialization Tactics: An Interactionist Perspective.” Human Resource Management Review 10.4 (2000): 453–474.

    DOI: 10.1016/S1053-4822(00)00036-X

    This paper argues for an interactionist perspective of organizational socialization that integrates the individual and the organizational approach to socialization. A model is proposed in which socialization tactics used by organizations influence the likelihood that newcomers will use various proactive tactics and will also interact with proactive tactics used by newcomers to influence Socialization Outcomes.

  • Saks, Alan M., and Blake E. Ashforth. “Organizational Socialization: Making Sense of the Past and Present as a Prologue for the Future.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 51.2 (1997): 234–279.

    DOI: 10.1006/jvbe.1997.1614

    This review first covers several theories and models that have been used in socialization research (e.g., uncertainty reduction theory) and reviews and evaluates six areas of research (socialization tactics; socialization training; Proactive Socialization; socialization learning and content; group socialization; and moderators, mediators, and individual differences). A multilevel process model of organizational socialization is developed.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.