Abstract There are millions of organizations in existence today and their success is determined by how well they communicate. Dainton & Zelley (2011) identify four organizational communication theories: organizational culture, organizational assimilation theory, organizational identity and control theory, and organizing theory. In this paper organizational assimilation theory and organizational identity and control theory are explained in depth. The organizational assimilation theory was created by Frederic Jablin to explain how one becomes integrated into the culture of an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Vocational anticipatory socialization, anticipatory socialization, encounter, metamorphosis, and disengagement are the stages in the assimilation process (Dainton & Zelley, 2011; Ojha, 2005; Waldeck & Meyers, 2007). It is suggested that the assimilation process is a complex, linear progression that takes years to complete. The organizational identity and control theory explains how the connection one has to an organization influences behavior and decision making within an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Identification, control, and discipline are the three main concepts that make up this theory. Understanding these two theories and their components can benefit any leader of an organization, as well as the individual members. When these theories are understood and applied organizations should see improvements in their communication methods and therefore increase their chances for success (Meyers & Oetzel, 2003). Keywords: communication, assimilation, identity, control, organizational IntroductionEvery individual at some point in their lifetime is a member of an organization. An organization for the purpose of this paper is defined as “a group of people who coordinate activities to achieve individual and collective goals” (Dainton & Zelley, 2011, p.100). This includes, but is not limited to occupations, clubs, sports teams, and educational institutions. As stated by authors Dainton & Zelley (2011) communication within an organization serves three primary functions. The first function is relationship and it refers to socializing and integrating members of an organization so they can adapt to the environment of the organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). The second function is organizing and it simply refers to how communication can control the activities within an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). The last function of organizational communication is change and it refers to how members of an organization problem solve and create innovative methods to improve an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Currently there are four theories of organizational communication (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). The purpose of this paper is to provide a thorough analysis of two of these theories, the organizational assimilation theory and the organizational identification and control theory. Organizational Assimilation TheoryThe organizational assimilation theory was created by Frederic Jablin to explain how one becomes integrated into the culture of an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). An organizational assimilation process is used to communicate the culture and values of an organization to an individual. Organizations use organizational assimilation processes to influence newcomers (Ojha, 2005). These processes teach the values, norms, and required behaviors within an organization (Ojha, 2005). If not done correctly, this process could hinder the perspective one has for a new organization and vice versa. It is important for organizations to understand this theory as many people today join, participate in, and leave multiple jobs and organizations throughout their lifetime of employment (Dailey, 2016). The organizational assimilation theory was created to explain how newcomers fit into an organization, but some researchers claim the assimilation process causes individuals to give up their individual identities (Meyers & Oetzel, 2003). Other researchers believe that part of the assimilation process is how individuals create roles for themselves within an organization (Waldeck & Meyers, 2007). Terms such as “role taking” and “role making’ have been used to describe the process by which individuals become contributing members of an organization (Waldeck & Meyers, 2007). Though some newcomers may accept existing organizational norms, others have individualization experiences during the assimilation process that result in creative and innovative contributions to an organization (Waldeck & Meyers, 2007).It should be noted that the assimilation process requires effort from both the organization and the newcomer. Though socialization and assimilation are often used interchangeably Waldeck & Meyers (2007) suggest that socialization is defined by the efforts of the organization to help newcomers adjust into the organization. Additionally, Waldeck & Meyers (2007) suggest that assimilation is defined by the efforts of an individual to fit into an organization. Ultimately, successful socialization and assimilation involves both organizations and newcomers (Meyers & Oetzel, 2003).The creator of the organizational assimilation theory argues that assimilation is a complex process that can take place over years (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). This process can cause anxiety for many newcomers. If the assimilation process is hindered it could potentially impact the productivity of an individual and ultimately the productivity of an organization (Waldeck, Seibold, & Flanagin, 2004). Due to the different cultures among organizations, one cannot generalize organizational assimilation processes (Ojha, 20015). Typically the effectiveness of an organizational assimilation process depends heavily on the culture of an organization. An organizational assimilation can be a planned process such a new employee on-boarding procedures, but most assimilation is unplanned such as interactions with co-workers (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Newcomers progress through the assimilation process by engaging in communication, interacting with other coworkers, and observing and practicing the norms of an organization (Waldeck, Seibold, & Flanagin, 2004).The organizational assimilation theory is based off four stages. According to Dainton & Zelley (2011) the four stages of the assimilation process are vocational anticipatory socialization, anticipatory socialization, encounter, and metamorphosis. Other researchers such as Ojha (2005) say the four stages in the assimilation process are anticipatory socialization, encounter phase, metamorphosis, and disengagement. These four stage models suggest that an individual is assimilated in a linear progression in which their sense of belonging is ever growing until they leave the organization (Meyers & Oetzel, 2003). Though each stage will be explained in depth, it should be noted that there is no way to measure the assimilation process. Therefore the sense of belonging felt by an individual within an organization can vary over time due to unforeseen circumstances such as new management, promotions, or life changes (Meyers & Oetzel, 2003). Vocational Anticipatory Socialization In the original four stages of the organizational assimilation theory vocational anticipatory socialization was the first stage. In this stage individuals develop expectations in regards to the nature of work and work settings (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). This stage begins prior to one looking to join an organization. In this stage individuals gather and process of occupational information from a variety of sources throughout life (Waldeck & Meyers, 2007). For example children watch their parents leave and return from work each day and they learn work ethic from receiving feedback from teachers throughout the academic years (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). This stage is responsible for influencing the lifelong attitude one has towards work (Waldeck & Meyers, 2007). That being said research suggests that much of what is learned during the vocational anticipatory socialization stage is biased and distorted due to media portrayal and stereotypes (Dainton & Zelley, 2011).Anticipatory Socialization In the original four stages anticipatory socialization was the second stage, but it is now considered the first stage of the organizational assimilation theory. In this stage individuals pick a specific organization (Waldeck & Meyers, 2007). Once an organization as been selected the individual begins to gather information about an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). During this stage an individual becomes socialized into an organization before they officially join the organization. An example of this stage is when an individual is interviewing for a specific position within an organization. During the interview process individuals directly communicate with an organization and the job seeker and employer become to develop expectations about each other (Dailey, 2016). Another example of this stage is the idea of internships. In society today internships are almost considered a rite of passage for job seekers (Dailey, 2016). Back in 1980 only 3% of students had internship and recent data from 2014 shows that 61% of students have had an internship before starting their career (Dailey, 2016). Internships serve as anticipatory socialization for full-time employment (Dailey, 2016). It should be noted that despite direct communication with an organization, the expectations one develops could still be skewed. This is due to the fact the many organizations only communicate the positives of the organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Encounter As stated by authors Dainton & Zelley (2011) the encounter stage is “one of uncertainty and anxiety,” (p.108). It is common for a newcomer to experience culture shock during the encounter stage as they compare their expectations to reality (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). During this stage the newcomer is able observe the organization in its true sense and attempts to become a contributing member of the organization. By joining the organization one learns their specific roles and required tasks (Waldeck & Meyers, 2007). Through interactions with coworkers and supervisors an individual can reduce their level of uncertainty within an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011).Metamorphosis Originally the metamorphosis stage was the final stage of the assimilation process, but it is now considered the third stage. Two processes, socialization and individualization, occur during the metamorphosis stage. During socialization the newcomer begins to embody the values and behaviors of an organization in order to meet the expectations an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). In the individualization process the newcomer respects the values and behaviors of an organization, but seeks to make an impact on the organization as well (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Disengagement Disengagement is currently the last stage of the assimilation process. The disengagement stage is when an individual is leaving an organization or is leaving a job within the same organization for a promotion or transfer (Ojha, 20015). Once the individual has left and has started a new position the assimilation process starts over as the individual enters the anticipatory socialization stage. This stage can occur voluntarily and involuntarily. During this stage the individual gives up their role in the organization (Waldeck & Meyers, 2007). The individual may experience dissociation during the disengagement stage (Waldeck & Meyers, 2007). Though this stage primary impacts the individual leaving the organization, it also impacts the organization, which now has to find a replacement.Organizational Identification and Control TheoryOrganizational identification and control theory explains how the connection one has to an organization influences behavior and decision making within an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Identification, control, and discipline are the three main concepts that tie this theory together (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). The remainder of this paper will explain each concept in depth. IdentificationThe identification concept “refers to the sense of oneness or belongingness to an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011, p.109). Typically an individual experiences identification during the metamorphosis stage of the organizational assimilation theory that was discussed earlier in this paper. (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). According to authors Dainton & Zelley (2011), when an individual experiences identification they define themselves in terms of the organization. It is common for individuals to take on the persona of the organization. The individual may use plural pronouns such as “we” and “us” to refer to the organization. During this process individuals develop a sense of pride in being associated with an organization. One example of the identification process is when an individual is accepted and attends a university, such as the University of Florida. Even before stepping a foot on campus the individual becomes a member of the “Gator Nation.” The University of Florida emphasizes the sense of belongingness and unity through the academic career of their students and continues this sense of belongingness with one of the largest alumni associations in the country (Mael & Ashforth, 1992). As stated by Dainton & Zelley (2011) the identification process creates opportunities that allow organizations to control their members, which is the second main concept of the organizational identification and control theory.ControlResearchers suggest that control over members is necessary for an organization to get things done (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). There are several different ways in which an organization can control their members. Simple control is the most obvious and direct form of control. In this form of control managers threaten members or make conditional statements such as allowing casual Fridays if everyone meets their quotas for the week. Ultimately the manager uses this form of control to ensure members are aware of what should be done within the organization. This form of control was primarily used in 19th century factories and is typically still used in small family owned businesses today (Barker, 1999).Technological control, “uses technology to manage what can and cannot be done in the workplace,” or within an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011, p.110). One example of this form of technology is a factory assembly line. The speed of those working on the line is controlled by the assembly line itself (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). An additional example is how some organizations, such as high schools, create firewalls to prevent the use of social media on campus. Barker (1999) suggests that this form of technology was not only developed due to technological advances in the workplace, but to also reduce worker alienation and dissatisfaction that resulted from the form of simple control. Bureaucratic control initially sounds intimidating, but as defined by Dainton & Zelley (2011) this form of control is based off “a hierarchical system of rules, with rewards and punishments drawn from these rules,” (p.110). This is exemplified when new hires sign a contract or a form of agreement when accepting a new position. Additional examples include employee incentive programs and job security when individuals are compliant (Barker, 1999). Researchers suggest that bureaucratic control was formulated as an adaptation to technological control (Barker, 1999). As a result, bureaucratic control has developed into the primary form of control used by managers in society today (Barker, 1999)Unobtrusive control is when members are controlled by their commitment to organizational values (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). It results from a shared belief in the mission and vision of an organization. This type of control causes individuals to make decisions not based off expectations, but because the individual believes and identifies with an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Lastly, concertive control results from interpersonal relationships and teamwork (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). This form of control can be associated with peer pressure as co-workers or co-members play the primary role in this form of control. In concertive control, actions taken by coworkers, who are typically hierarchical equals, control the behavior of an individual. Recent research has shown the benefits of this form of control. Researchers found that when peers regulate behavior, “it democratizes the process of control” (Klepper, 2017, p.24). This form of control empowers the members of an organization and reduces employee dissatisfaction and alienation (Klepper, 2017). It should be note that there is one negative to this form of control. In this form of control there is not set of formal rules to protect a single individual from a group decision (Klepper, 2017). Concertive control is obvious and direct, but since it does not occur at the managerial level many researchers considered this a “hidden form of control” (Dainton & Zelley, 2011, p.111). Many researchers believe that concertive control may develop to become a stronger form than any other forms of control (Barker, 1999)Discipline The final concept of the organizational identification and control theory is discipline. Dainton & Zelley (2011) suggest that “discipline is achieved through a sense of responsibility to the work group because members identify with their organization and because they share common values and a vision for the organization” (p.111). In this concept decisions are not made to appease management, rather individuals make decisions based off the values of an organization. In this concept managers can allow the mission and vision of an organization and the identification process to maintain control within an organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). It has been suggested that the discipline associated with the mission and vision of an organization also creates a sense of empowerment within members of an organization. As a result, all organizations should ensure all members know and understand the mission and vision of the organization. ConclusionAs depicted in this paper organizational communication is far from simple and it is complex (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Understanding these two theories and their components can benefit any leader of an organization, as well as the individual members. In particular those looking to join a new organization may find it easier integrate themselves into an organization if they are familiar with the organizational assimilation theory. Knowing the various stages of the process and acknowledging that the process takes time can reduce the stress experienced when joining a new organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). Additionally, it would be beneficial for organizations who are taking on new members to be familiar with the organizational assimilation theory as well so they can attempt to make the process more efficient maintain if not increase the productivity of the organization (Dainton & Zelley, 2011). The second theory, organizational identity and control primarily benefits leaders of organizations as it pertains to maintaining control over an organization. If an organization is based off concertive control it maybe wise to educate organization members on the positive and negative aspects of this form of control. Ultimately, there are no means to measure the levels of assimilation, identification, or control within an organization, but improvement in any of these components can greatly benefit an organization (Meyers & Oetzel, 2003).
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