Organizational entry by new college graduates : implications for human resource development and universities
Holton, Elwood F
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The success of an organization's employees is affected by many factors, including the organizational entry process itself. While much emphasis is given to the selection of new employees and developing them for future advancement, organizations, employees and universities often overlook the critical process of transforming the new employee from naive outsider to knowledgeable insider capable of making a significant contribution. Although the research shows that the first year is a critical time period, the organizational entry and socialization processes are not well understood. In particular, very little research is available to describe the process from the new employee's perspective rather than the organizations. The central question of this study is: what exactly do new college graduates encounter as they enter work organizations and does that experience affect their opinions and attitudes. An exploratory, descriptive study of Virginia Tech's May 1990 undergraduate graduating class was conducted to systematically describe and analyze their transition from college into work organizations. Key research questions included analyzing demographic characteristics; the effectiveness of their preparation for the transition; their perceptions of the organizational entry experience; their opinions about their first jobs and organizations; their understanding of their organization's structure and culture; the extent to which their expectations about the job were met; their attitudes toward their organizations; the tactics and strategies they used to adapt; and the socialization tactics they encountered. The survey was mailed to 2,306 graduates approximately one year after graduation with 846 (38.6%) returned. Only those employed in a position appropriate for starting their career and employed in a business or for-profit organization were used in this study (n=378). Data were factor analyzed and then mean responses calculated for scales identified. Correlational analysis and analyses of variance were used to probe for possible relationships between the scales. Respondents generally reported positive transition experiences but with considerable variability. However, use of individual adaptation strategies and organizational socialization strategies were low. Important relationships were found between critical job attitudes, anticipation of the transition, organizational socialization strategies and individual adaptation strategies and important aspects of the transition. Implications for HRD programming, university curricula and individual career strategies are discussed.
- Doctoral Dissertations