Organizational Assimilation Theory
Remember your first day at a new job? In your mind, you anticipated what your new co-workers, boss and work would be like. New policies and procedures were explained and demonstrated. With time, you became more comfortable and eventually felt like part of the group. The Organizational Assimilation theory (OAT) explains how we use communication to assimilate or adapt to new organization. According to Jablin, the assimilation process is cyclical and occurs in four stages; anticipatory socialization, encounter, metamorphosis and disengagement. The communication that occurs in each stage is distinct. Each time we move to a new organization, we go through the stages again (Ojha, 2005).
The OAT can be applied to many different situations in our everyday lives. In this essay, I will expand upon each stage of the OAT. In addition to illustrate the stages of assimilation, I will share my experience during a recent job transfer within the Mayo Clinic from the Department of Thoracic Surgery to the Cancer Center. Although technically both departments are at the Mayo Clinic, they are organized and managed very differently. I had to quickly learn to change my behavior given the new expectations of my new role were within the Cancer Center.
According to the OAT, the first stage is anticipatory socialization. Prior to entering a new organization, you develop a set of expectations and beliefs about the organization. For instance, you have opinions about the organization itself, how it functions, what your role in the organization may be and how you can fit it. The opinions are formed by doing research including reading literature, web searches and asking colleagues and friends. During your initial encounter with the new organzation, these preconceived notions influence how you communicate with existing members of the organization (Ojha, 2005).
For me, the anticipatory assimilation stage began...