A Detailed Qualitative Study of Assimilation Process Problems and Solutions

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Statement of the Problem

Assimilation is a long term exhaustive process impeded by psychological and social problems which the assimilation challenging and insurmountable. Without understanding the source of these problems, it will be very difficult to ascertain their subsequent effects on the newcomers, existing employees and on the overall workplace environment.  

Purpose of the Study

In today’s workplace environment, assimilation has become an important issue and aspect for organizations. Office politics, grouping, stereotyping, discrimination, cultural gap, horizontal and vertical polarisation and communication gap are some of the major reasons that make assimilation insurmountable (Phillips, Esterman, & Kenny, 2015). Consequently, organizations face different problems like labour turnover cost, decreasing employee’s morale and productivity. Under this situation, it is highly significant that those causes directly and indirectly responsible for the challenges with assimilation process must be highlighted and evaluated (Church, 2014). Additionally, properly or positive assimilation has always been preferred by organizations because it provides productive contribution to overall organizational performance and productivity besides maintaining and stabilizing the workplace culture (Church, 2014). Therefore, organizations and individuals are ever in constant look for ways to improve their chances of compatibility and adjustment with the workplace culture, which is referred to as assimilation. However, better approaches to compatibility and integration into the organisation are only identified or established when an organisation has evaluated hindrances along with the supportive factors facilitating the assimilation process.   

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Research questions 

  • What are the psychological problems caused during the assimilation process?
  • What are the social problems faced during the assimilation process? 
  • What are the effects of psychological and social problems on newcomers’ performance?
  • What are the possible and available solutions for both psychological and social problems?

Interview questions

Open-ended questions

  1. What are the psychological problems caused during the assimilation process?
  2. What are the social problems faced during the assimilation process?
  3. What are the effects of psychological and social problems on newcomers’ performance?
  4. What are the possible and available solutions for both psychological and social problems?

Close-ended questions:

  1. In your personal opinion, which is one the most important cause making assimilation process difficult for any new comer? Please, select one answer from the following options:
  1. Gender-based Discrimination 
  2. Age-based Discrimination 
  3. Unclear job description
  4. Favouritism
  5. Discrimination
  1. In your opinion, which social factor is considered to be the biggest hindrance for the assimilation process? Please, select one option from the following given options:
  1. Intolerance
  2. Misunderstanding
  3. Gossiping
  4. Bias
  1. Which one is the best and effective strategy for increasing the process of assimilation? Please select one option from the given below choices:
  1. Incentives
  2. Conducive workplace environment
  3. Diversity
  4. Positive thinking
  1. What should be the role of department head for improving the assimilation process? please select one option from the following:
  1. Friendly 
  2. Critic
  3. Motivator
  4. Leader
  1. Personally, which step should be taken by a newcomer for becoming an assimilated part of the organization? Please, select one option:
  1. Hard worker
  2. Trend follower (doing as other colleagues are doing)
  3. Culturally adjustable 
  4. Socially workable

Literature Review 

Organisational assimilation, more so for newcomers, has attracted considerate attention of research (Waldeck & Myers, 2007; Myers and Oetzel, 2003). In essence, some studies have centred the approaches and strategies for measuring organisational assimilation. Accordingly, such studies define organisational assimilation as the co-operating and mutual reception of the newcomers (Waldeck & Myers, 2007).  In light of such considerations, Myers and Oetzel (2003) engaged in a research whose findings outlined six major dimensions for measuring organizational assimilation including organizational acculturation, familiarity with others, involvement, recognition, role negotiation or adaptation, and job competence.  Consequently, Gailliard, Myers and Seibold (2010) proposed that in measuring organizational assimilation, factors like organizational identification and job satisfaction are positively related to positive organisational assimilation while such elements as propensity of leaving the organisation shows negative assimilation.  

Nonetheless, other scholars and researchers have focused on identifying some of the socialization problems which are major impediments towards organizational assimilation. In so doing, Myers and Oetzel (2003) indicated that the major issue or problem with the organizational adjustment is much attributed or influenced by the early learning experiences as well as the measures or incentives put by the organisation to promote socialization. Accordingly, Jokisaari (2013) indicated that by focusing on the orientation of the newcomers into the organization, then elements or problems with individual differences, as well as the attributional processes function or act as the moderating factors towards the organization. In addition, the personal as well as the role outcomes are directly articulated during the orientation. Hence, best to say, some of the problems with socialization include individual differences, ambiguity in roles or outcomes. 

In the same respect, Yang (2008) focused on exploring problems with organizational assimilation by looking at how information-seeking efforts during the entry of newcomers are much attributed to their positive organisational assimilation. Although the area has received less focus or emphasis, failure to emphasize information seeking as a major change during acculturation or organisational assimilation has been one of the major reasons as to why newcomers experience major challenges or issues with assimilation (Yang, 2008). Therefore, for successive research, there is the inherent necessity of dwelling on how information seeking behaviour and challenges are some of the major problems or challenges during assimilation of the newcomers into the organisation.  

Accordingly, organisational assimilation is much attributed to the organisational culture or the work environment (Samnani, 2017). Employees are diverse in many ways and for proper integration, measures and incentives for managing diversity should be put in place and properly outlined or articulated. In essence, organisational assimilation is challenged by such problems like discrimination, poor diversity management, poor-interpersonal relationship, lack of proper or integrative communication and eventually, major issues or concerns with the relationship management (Fang, McAllister & Duffy, 2017). Briefly, a poor organisational culture relates to negative organisational assimilation.  

However, most of the studies on organisational assimilation focus on the individualised problems or considerations which majorly undermine or challenging to the organisational assimilation. In so doing, there is the inherent gap in ascertaining how organisational can focus on proper management of their workplace or culture such that apt solutions are provided or presented in redressing assimilation problems, both psychologically and socially.  In this case, the subsequent study sees to explore how solutions to organisational job design and the organisational culture can be harnessed to ensure that the assimilation problems emanating from these areas or addressed.  Therefore, the focus of this study is to fill the gap on the available solutions by recommending how best an organisation can come up with best, if not, better solutions for addressing psychological and social problems to organisational assimilation.  

Theoretical Framework  

Jablin’s organizational assimilation theory is commonly cited in explaining organisational assimilation, a model comprising of four stages namely vocational anticipatory socialization, anticipatory socialization, encounter and metamorphosis (Dainton and Zelley, 2011). In the first stage, newcomers develop certain beliefs and expectations relating to nature and type of work; in the second stage, the newcomers start to learn organizational matters and endeavour to obtain knowledge, skills required to meet job description; in the third stage, which is more related to the organizational culture, the newcomers try to ascertain type of organizational cultures and how communications and understanding among and between employees take place; in the fourth stage, the newcomers experience transition from outsider to insider (Dainton and Zelley, 2011).  In other words, each stage has its own boundaries and requirements and they are sequenced as well. Therefore, in order to undergo this process, every newcomer is required to experience this process from first stage to the fourth stage.

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Accordingly, the study is based on Jablin’s organizational assimilation theory. Consequently, every aspect or stage mentioned in this theory is important for carrying out the search process. More importantly, the study is primarily concerned with the process of assimilation in which more emphasis is given to the internal organizational factors that directly or indirectly affect the workplace environment and the employees as well. In essence, the study is mainly related to second and third stage of the organizational assimilation theory in which a newcomer learns about job description and service delivery along with developing understanding about the workplace culture in which interaction and communication with other departments and other department employees are carried out.

Limitations of the Study

Particular case study

Since the only focuses on a specific organisation LongHorn Steakhouse (since it falls under the hotel and service industry) the findings may not be generally applicable to other organizations and as such, the replicability of the same is not possible. The collected first-hand information will be only related and specific to the targeted employees and organizations since organisations have different cultures and problems with assimilation may be different from one organisation to the other. 

Secondary data

It is difficult to rely on the authenticity of secondary data. The secondary data only reflects the information taken from the pre-existing sources. Under this situation, if any piece of information is incorrect and has also been included in this study, in that case, the subsequent findings, results and recommendations will be affected.  

Reliance on respondents

Bias cannot be avoided when respondents are strictly relied upon. While collecting first-hand information from the respondents, it is possible that some respondents may be biased against the organization or employer or they prefer to give partial and biased opinion instead of providing impartial opinion about the issue or the question. Under this situation, that bias will comprise the validity and reliability of the study, and equally compromising the extent to which the overall findings can be generalised.  

Significance of the Study

Major issue

Assimilation is a major issue for many organizations. Globally, efforts are being taken to reduce the gap between employee, workplace environment and employer as well. For this purpose, organizations use different approaches and incentives (Samnani, 2017). For example, some introduce attractive financial and non-financial incentives for attracting and retaining employees while others prefer to provide different workplace facilities including offering relaxed working hours and less pressure work to new comers and existing employees. Through this gap minimization process, organizational culture, behaviours and attitudes of colleagues, trends and methods of communications across the organization are some of the ways that are carried out for reducing the gap and increasing assimilation process (Yang, 2008). For example, some employees prefer to work with a group whereas others find it challenging accommodating themselves with the group; instead, they are more inclined to work individually, defined as employees who value personal freedom, and as such, are more productive when given autonomy over their work.

Factors identification

Assimilation is not a simple process thus a complex area. Cost is the most important factor for various organizations especially in the services industries where only services of human resources or employees’ skills and competencies are harnessed towards to satisfying the organizational needs. In such kinds of industry, labour turnover, employee satisfaction, workplace hindrances, workplace congenial factors, internal and external communications and personality compatible with the type of job, are some of that factors that either facilitate or hinder the process of assimilation (Yang, 2008). For example, if a company continues to experience higher labour turnover rate, which means frequently employees leave organisation and switch to other organizations, there is the need to identify the inherent causes of turn over. In that case, if the causes of labour turnover rate are not identified on time and allowed to increase affect the organisation through higher costs of hiring and training new employees, the organisation will continue feeling the effects and implications of the high turnover rates and the costs may be overwhelming to contain or sustain (Fang et al., 2017). As a result, it is highly essential that a company should identify those factors that discourage employees or workers from providing services, compromising their engagement with the corporation or organisation in addition to searching or seeking out some of the factors crucial for employee retention.  

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Most importantly, organisations always endeavour to lower their business cost. For this purpose, they are less willing to experience a rising labour turnover rate. Within this context, the use of assimilation process is of crucial and critical significance for the organizations as it has every possible way through which organizations can evaluate their current methods of assimilation besides highlighting the existing loopholes in their current human resource and workplace integration strategy (Fang et al., 2017). After knowing the loopholes through the use of assimilation theory, they will be in a better position to adjust or revamp their strategy.


Hypothesis will also be tested. Hypotheses are assumptions which are constructed before going to test them. For this purpose, the researcher develops them through knowing the previous knowledge relating to the topic and about the current issues. The main objective behind testing the hypotheses is to prove or disapprove certain factors having attachment with other issues. While constructing hypotheses, it is highly essential that the researcher should link them with the topic on which research is carried out. 

H1: Discrimination discourages the assimilation process in an organization.

H2: Respect for diverse culture is a key for solidifying the assimilation process.

Research Design

The Study Approach 

A better understanding of problems and issues with organisational assimilation is explored by having a specific context of the study, which to this case or extent, compels the use of a case study. Hence, a case study design will be employed and complemented with an interview design in collecting the data. The preference of a case study in this case is because of the benefits it provides with the increased and intensive exploration of the issue, and as such, with the observation of an organisation or a natural phenomenon, the data collected is basically comprehensive (Creswell, 2003). Case studies have also been lauded as an excellent source of studying behavior (which aligns with this study), and as such, an apt method or approach (methodology) for challenging phenomenon.  However, the major limitation with this approach is that there is a major challenge with the generalization of the findings and as such, possible biases since only one person is engaged in the interpretation. 

Interview will be used as a way to obtain the first-hand information from the interviewees. Interview is considered to be an effective way to collect data as it provides an opportunity to come directly into interaction with the respondents. Through this interaction, the respondents are considerably comfortable to answer the questions, more opportunity is presented in exploring the issue into depth and flexibility in changing the research direction based on the new findings (Creswell, 2003). However, interviews are time consuming and as such, are limited by the sample size since a small sample size is used in collecting the data hence problems or limitations with the generalisation of the findings. 

Both closed-ended and open-ended questions will be asked. In the close-ended questions, the respondents will be required to provide answer from a list of options informed to them. In this type of question, the respondents do not give their opinion instead they only choose one option whereas in the open-ended questions the respondents are allowed to share their opinion about the asked question (Creswell, 2003). The purpose of using both question types is that it enables the researcher to appropriately gather the relevant information and answer the research questions in a professional manner. 

Using interview for collecting data is more productive than any other way to collect data. For example, when the interview method is compared with the questionnaire method, in which a questionnaire is emailed to the respondents and they are required to select and answer the questions, it can be deduced that the interview method is more appropriate as it provides congenial and relevant environment, time and place where both (the researcher and the respondents) sit together and provide their reply (Creswell, 2003). On the other hand, in the questionnaire method, the respondents and the researcher seldom come into face to face interaction and the researcher only sends an email and the respondents are required to fill out the questionnaire and send back the email to the researcher. In this entire process, it is possible that the respondents may not give due and required time and attention to the questions mentioned in the questionnaire instead they may fill it out as a compulsion or formality. In this situation, it is probable that they may not provide relevant and effective answers and that may not be helpful to collect the correct data. Hence, the collected data are not relevant in answering to the research questions and the whole research activity fails to meet the expected target. 


Given the research question, a purposive sampling will the best approach by relying on maximum variation or the heterogeneous purposive sampling where the selected sample is diverse in terms of the population representation (Salkind, 2010). A heterogeneous purposive sampling is preferred because it provides a broader insight into the issue or phenomenon being explored. In this case, the heterogeneity will be provided in terms of age, sex (gender), years of serving in the organisation and the positions held. However, the study will majorly rely on interviews from individuals who were previously the employees of the organisation LongHorn Steakhouse, which will help in identifying or relating poor assimilation with high turnover rates within the premises.  On the other hand, relying on the employees who have been previously attached or engaged with the organisation may bring about issues or concerns with bias because some may not accurately reveal the dealings in the organisation, or decline to reveal much information which could help the researcher. Conversely, some may be biased and present their stories from biased personal interpretation and not what actually goes or transpires in the organisation.  

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The Role of the Researcher

Data collection through interviews will be the role of the researcher. In this data collection process, the researcher will come in direct contact with the potential interviewees and the process of data collection will be initiated from that point. In the first, the researcher will contact with the potential interviewees and will provide them the prime objective of interview and afterwards their subsequent consent will be obtained. At the same time, before going to formally interview them, it is the responsibility of the researcher to share certain important points. First, they will be assured that their information and their opinion will not be shared with anyone else besides the collected information will be confidential and will be preserved as well. Second, after this information, the researcher will request them to give time and place for the interview; this, information is important because waste of time, energy and cost will be avoided if interview is pre-planned and interview venue is selected as well. Third, the researcher will record interview and this recording process will also be informed to the potential interviewees. Through addressing their potential concerns regarding interview recording, the researcher will try to mitigate their probable apprehensions relating to the interview process and their personal opinion. 

Data collection

Primary data will be collected from the interviews. Primary data refers to collecting first-hand information and through question (Salkind, 2010). For collecting the primary data, the research instrument (interview) will be applied; this, type of information is of pivotal importance for this study as it provides an opportunity to access the information that never existed before and through collecting the first hand information, the researcher will be in a position to understand the real organizational issues and problems that directly or indirectly influence the process of assimilation. In this regard, it is important to mention that the interviewees are those individuals who have first-hand experience, understanding and opinion pertaining to the assimilation process in organization; they are fully conversant with the cultural hindrances, discriminatory issues, introvert and extrovert issues and their challenges for complying with the requirements relating to assimilation are those issues that can only be shared by individuals who witness such issues. 

Keeping this view in mind, it is intent of this endeavour to mainly rely on the primary data. For this purpose, the research questions and interview questions have been constructed and developed in a way to obtain this objective. 

Secondary data

Secondary data is past information which is collected through books, journals, magazines and websites and sources such as newspapers (Salkind, 2010). Secondary data has its usefulness as it provides and highlights the historical trend relating to topic and enable the researcher to understand them and know the different aspects and implications relating the topic. In the secondary data, basic information, supporting and opposite analysis, views, opinions and assessments are provided by the related authors on the topic.

In the current research, the authors will access secondary data through mainly using two basic sources: books and journals. It is an established fact that books are more reliable and authentic source of providing secondary information as the reliability and authenticity are mainly provided by the process through which a book is published in which a range of reviews is conducted by scholars, academicians and renowned authors relating to the topic. As a result, the researcher will be mainly focusing on the books as an important source for providing secondary data.

At the same time, when the usefulness of primary data is compared with the secondary data, it can easily be deduced that the primary data is more relevant and effective especially in matters relating to organizations (Salkind, 2010). On the other hand, the secondary data does not provide the present information instead it reflects the past experience and events relating to the case study. In contrast, the primary data represents the present ground realities and issues which are being currently experienced by the information providers. At the same time, based on the current trends relating to assimilation and other issues, the primary data can be utilized to provide the future possible trends; in other words, the primary data has more chances to predict and improve chances of accuracy in the future trends whereas the past data, which is provided by the secondary data, has a limited usefulness for predicting the future trend.

Data analysis

Descriptive analysis will be used as a way to carry out the process of data analysis. In this process, the researcher will collect all data and try to ascertain the main threads and themes commonly found in all interviews and they all will be collected and subsequently they will be analysed by keeping in view the historical development on the issue mentioned in the literature review part. For example, if majority of the respondents reply that discrimination is one of those causes that discourage the assimilation process within the organizations, in that case, the researcher will discuss discrimination and the further supporting and opposite aspects mentioned in the literature review part will be used to carry out the data analysis process. In this regard, it is important to mention that the descriptive analysis is a part of qualitative analysis in which subjective understanding is employed for carrying out the process of analysis. 

Validation strategy

Creswell has identified 8 validation strategies: “prolonged engagement and persistent observation in the field,  negative case analysis, triangulation, peer review or debriefing, clarifying, member checking, rick, thick description and external audits” (Creswell, 2003). Each one has its own implications for study. However, it has been recommended that the researcher should combine at least two validation strategies in order to ensure validity and authenticity in the researched area (Creswell, 2003).  

In the triangulation process, the researcher uses different sources including methods, investigations and theories for corroborating evidence relating to the topic and attempt to put light on the topic along with theories and methods (Creswell, 2003). Similarly, the use of member checking employs data searching and data collection, interpretation and analysis; and this entire process is related to every aspect mentioned in the member checking strategy (Creswell, 2003).

For this study, the scholar anticipates to use both triangulation and member checking. For the triangulation, the researcher will use multiple sources in the literature review in which previous topic-related information and research will be included from multiple resources. In the discussion and analysis chapter, the researcher will employ member checking in which interview and threads and main themes from interviews will be collected and they will be subsequently analysed by taking into account the use of respondents’ opinion and their assessment pertaining issues mentioned in the research questions.

Ethical considerations

Free consent

Free consent will be obtained from the potential interviewees. Every interview has the right to give or not decline the interview; some find it difficult to share their personal opinion and current observations and experiences within the organization; and it is possible that some classified or important information may not be comfortably shared by the prospect interviewees. Keeping this view in mind and attaching significance to personal liberty rights, the researcher will first attempt to seek their free consent. At the same time, it is important to highlight that the researcher will not use any unfair means, including the use of money in convincing the target population to give interviews. As the researcher is fully aware of the effects of using unfair research methods, the study will only rely on fair and professional methods in collecting the first-hand information. At the same time, it is the intent of the researcher that it will not use any kind of external pressure to the potential interviewees, instead more professional and consent-based agreement will be used for collecting the first-hand information.

Information confidentiality

Information confidentiality is a major concern for interviewees. Many interviewees simply decline to participate by citing lack of trust, especially worried that they need assurance that the provided information will not be used for illegitimate purposes and or disclosed to a third party. In the recent times, information confidentiality has become the most important and sensitive issue for many organizations and individuals; hence, the researcher will put every possible attempt to convince the potential interviewees regarding the safety of their provided information. For this purpose, the researcher will ensure that all the necessary measures for protecting and safeguarding confidential of the information be employed. The researcher will also assure the prospective participants of the measures for safeguarding confidentiality, especially safe keeping of the information as well as treating personal information as anonymous and not addressing the interviewees by their exact names. The need for upholding confidentiality in this research is much attributed to the fact that the data collected from the sample population, interviewees, is mainly from the employees who had previously worked in the organisation. Hence, disclosure of their names will not be ethical because of the previous attachment or engagement with the company.  

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Plagiarism avoidance

Plagiarism is an academic offence in which other’s idea is represented as one’s own. Academically, plagiarism is a serious and punishable academic offence (Carroll, 2014). For avoiding this offence, the researcher will use two strategies. First, it will not use other’s idea as one’s own and source and author name and year will be provided along with the piece of information obtained from any other source. For example, if a piece of information is accessed and obtained from a book, the researcher will use that information along with author name and year and in the reference list, full details will be included. Secondly, if a quotation is included, in that case, the quoted information will be in inverted commas besides including author name, year and page number for precision. 

In this regard, it is important to mention that fact and opinion should not be mixed and a clear distinction should be made. It is a common academic mistake that researchers avoid, especially making a distinction between opinion or fact as they commonly use opinion in the place of fact and vice versa. In order to avoid this mistake, the researcher will use opinion where it is required and the same is also applicable to fact with proper acknowledgement. 

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  1. Carroll, D. (2014). Skill for Academic and Career Success. New South Wales: Pearson.
  2. Church, P. H. (2014). Assimilation of new hires in public accounting. Current Issues in Auditing, 8(2), A25-A34. 
  3. Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (2nd ed.). California, CA: Sage Publications
  4. Dainton, M., & Zelley, E.D. (Eds.). (2011). Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life: A Practical Introduction (2nd ed.). London: SAGE.
  5. Fang, R., McAllister, D. J., & Duffy, M. K. (2017). Down but not out: Newcomers can compensate for low vertical access with strong horizontal ties and favorable core self‐evaluations. Personnel Psychology, 70(3), 517-555. 
  6. Gailliard, B. M., Myers, K. K., & Seibold, D. R. (2010). Organizational assimilation: A multidimensional reconceptualization and measure. Management Communication Quarterly, 24(4), 552-578. 
  7. Jokisaari, M. (2013). The role of leader–member and social network relations in newcomers’ role performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 82(2), 96-104.
  8. Myers, K. K., & Oetzel, J. G. (2003). Exploring the dimensions of organizational assimilation: Creating and validating a measure. Communication Quarterly, 51(4), 438-457. 
  9. Phillips, C., Esterman, A., & Kenny, A. (2015). The theory of organisational socialisation and its potential for improving transition experiences for new graduate nurses. Nurse Education Today, 35(1), 118-124
  10. Salkind, N.J. (Ed.). (2010). Encyclopedia of Research Design Volume 1. London: SAGE
  11. Samnani, A. K. (2017, January). Acculturation Patterns and Creativity in the Workplace: Unlocking Newcomers’ Untapped Potential. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2017, No. 1, p. 17020). Academy of Management.
  12. Waldeck, J. H., & Myers, K. K. (2007). Organizational assimilation theory, research, and implications for multiple areas of the discipline: A state of the art review. Annals of the International Communication Association, 31(1), 322-367. 
  13. Yang, J. T. (2008). Effect of newcomer socialisation on organisational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover intention in the hotel industry. The Service Industries Journal, 28(4), 429-443. 
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