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Contesting the Real World of Budgets: The Polyphony of Organizational Socialization

Jochen Hoffmann


Organizational socialization research has been criticized for being too focused on socialization as an adaptation process. Furthermore, critics contend that socialization approaches tend to be micro-biased; they lose sight of broader societal implications. This study tackles both critiques by combining an identity-based understanding of socialization with the communicative concept of the polyphonic organization. It is not only individuals who engage in multiple identity work; business organizations also do so when exposed to contextual voices at the macro-level of society. Qualitative interviews and focus groups with corporate communication professionals, alumni, and students reveal that there are multiple voices shaping organizational socialization. However, one societal reference has proved to be hegemonic, namely the instrumental reasoning of the economic system: newcomers are expected to adapt to the ‘real world’ of ‘budgets.’


organizational identification; organizational socialization; polyphony

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