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Pathways through organizational socialization: A longitudinal qualitative study based on the psychological contract

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Chris Woodrow, David E. Guest

Original languageEnglish
E-pub ahead of print17 Jul 2019


King's Authors


In this study, we explore different pathways during organizational socialization through the lens of the psychological contract using in-depth longitudinal qualitative methods. Analysis of 112 critical incident interviews with 27 newcomers across their first year of work reveals five distinct psychological contract pathways through socialization, within which fulfilment and breach influence adjustment by facilitating or restricting opportunities to learn and integrate, as well as influencing attitudes and behaviour. The analysis reveals that whilst perceived psychological contract fulfilment facilitates newcomer adjustment, perceived breach can disrupt the process. We provide a detailed account of the way socialization and the psychological contract unfold for newcomers over time, and show that psychological contract events can significantly alter the course of adjustment. Practitioner points: Delivery of perceived promises that are of particular importance to newcomers during early tenure can accelerate adjustment. Managers should therefore attempt to find out which promised contributions are important to employees and prioritize their delivery. The negative effects of perceptions of broken promises on newcomer adjustment may be reversed by later delivery. Managers should explain the reasons for any broken promises and seek to fulfil them in the future. Ongoing support from managers can help newcomers to negotiate the difficult period after organizational entry, even where promises are perceived to have been broken. Direct managers should be made aware of information provided and promises made to newcomers by those responsible for recruitment.

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