Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Management

First Advisor

Adam M. Grant

Second Advisor

Sigal G. Barsade

Abstract

It is widely accepted that organizations should begin socializing newcomers into the culture after their job start date. Considerable research has made it clear that onboarding newcomers during the encounter stage enhances their adjustment and performance. However, scholars have paid little attention to the impact of commencing cultural socialization earlier during what I designate as the prelude stage—the latter part of the anticipation stage, namely the time period between accepting a job offer and joining the organization. In this dissertation, I build on theories of imprinting and boundary crossing to propose that preboarding newcomers during the prelude stage—when they are more susceptible to lasting influence—may yield greater benefits for their cultural socialization and performance over time. In a field study, I measured the extent to which managers preboarded their newcomers during the prelude stage, finding that preboarding practices predicted job performance among newcomers even after controlling for realistic job previews during the anticipation stage. This relationship was mediated by newcomers’ cultural learning and adaptation. In a field experiment, randomly assigning managers to commence cultural socialization during the prelude rather than encounter stage enhanced newcomers’ job performance. This effect was mediated by newcomers’ cultural learning and adaptation, and enhanced for newcomers with lower initial affective commitment to the organization. Exploratory analyses reveal that naturally-occurring and experimentally-induced preboarding practices benefitted newcomer retention twelve months later. My theory and findings enrich knowledge about socialization, organizational culture, and managerial effectiveness by expanding the temporal boundaries around when socialization happens.

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Available to all on Saturday, July 05, 2025

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