Adapting to Organisational Culture: a Staged Adaptation Model
In today’s fast paced world, a job for life is a concept from the past. As individuals frequently move from one organisation to another, so they move from one organisational culture to another. Change is a constant and as the pace of change increases the ability of individuals to adapt is more essential than ever. This ethnographic research was prompted by observation of clinical phenomena, which led the researcher to question whether a mismatch in expectations regarding the culture of an organisation might be a cause of stress in newcomers. A pilot study was undertaken in order to make sense of the phenomena and led to a larger scale longitudinal study, carried out over a period of four years within a global technology firm. The research examines qualitatively distinct, stages of adaptation that individuals experience when entering a new organisation, with regards specifically to the culture of the organisation. The longitudinal study involved a number of methods including participant observation, interviews and focus groups. The interviews, held with thirty participants and undertaken at three monthly intervals and field notes from participant observation, resulted in a substantial amount of qualitative data. This was analysed through thematic analysis. The resulting findings enabled the researcher to design a staged adaptation model, which identifies the stages of adaptation to organisational culture from pre entry to assimilation. The model was tested for validity and transferability through the use of focus groups. A sense of belonging was found to be critical in adaptation to organisational culture. This study contributes to knowledge regarding organizational culture in bringing it together with adaptation and adding to research with regards to Socialisation, Psychological Contract formation and Organizational Culture.