Organizational assimilation and communication technology use
Learning, adapting to, and influencing organizational norms for performance, evaluation, and relating to others at work—formally known within the organizational literature as assimilation—can be a challenging process. Prior research indicates that uncertainty reduction, through information-seeking, is a prominent activity of organizational members during periods of assimilation. Traditional studies of assimilation-related information-seeking have focused on traditional channels for uncertainty reduction (e.g., face-to-face communication and traditional technologies like employee handbooks) and on the experiences of newcomers . The primary objective of this dissertation was to expand those two traditional foci by examining a variety of assimilation experiences (not just those of newcomers) and considering a an additional channel for assimilation-related information.
The proliferation of advanced communication and information technologies (ACITs) in contemporary organizations has important implications for the advancement of assimilation studies. Specifically, ACITs may be effective alternatives to traditional media or face-to-face contact for assimilation-related information: Conceptualizing assimilation as an on-going activity no limited to newcomers or persons experiencing formal transitions (e.g., promotions), this dissertation examined how organizational members use ACITs compared to more traditional channels for reducing their assimilation-related uncertainty. Second, the study investigated predictors of ACIT use and persons' responses to feedback regarding their ACIT use.
Respondents to a questionnaire assessing assimilation-related uncertainty reduction included 405 employees of four organizations—two hotels, a bank, and-an association of realtors. Both qualitative (content analysis and focus group protocols) and quantitative methods (statistical analyses) were used in a blended solution for analyzing the data collected. Results revealed that face-to-face communication is the more important predictor of assimilation effectiveness, followed by ACIT use. Least important are traditional technologies. User perceptions of ACIT attributes, attitudes toward advanced technology use, needs for three types of information, and the valence of feedback regarding their past ACIT use predicted their use of ACITs for assimilation-related information seeking. Finally, a typology of members' behavioral responses to feedback regarding their ACIT use derived for this study revealed that users will respond by continuing current practices, supplementing the channel, discontinuing use, expanding use, or learning new uses—or implement a variety of these. The results of this study are discussed in Chapter Five. This discussion examines the present study's findings in terms of their strengths and weaknesses and their implications for future research.