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Eastern Academy of Management 2018 Annual Meeting

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Organizational Socialization and Demographic Imbalances: The Effects of Cultural Dissimilarity

Many STEM industries are white male-dominated. However, increased diversity can provide competitive advantage to organizations in these vital industries because they become more adaptive. Individuals are attracted to similar others, inhibiting efforts in organizations attempting to overcome demographic imbalances by increasing their diversity. Organizational socialization, the process by which newcomers gain the knowledge necessary to perform their roles, is problematic for diverse individuals entering homogeneous workgroups because insiders exhibit similarity-attraction tendencies. We identify and describe unrecognized mechanisms that inhibit the socialization of diverse individuals, namely, that diverse newcomers face increased levels of uncertainty and their speed of uncertainty reduction is slowed due to misinterpretations by insiders regarding newcomer proactivity. To help organizations better integrate diversity, we identify empathy and formal mentoring programs as moderators that mitigate the negative impact of dissimilarity on newcomer socialization. The theoretical model helps organizations socialize diverse individuals, which may help overcome the STEM talent shortage.

Louis Hickman
Purdue University
United States

Mesut Akdere
Purdue University
United States


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