The antecedents and consequences of anticipatory identification
The aim of this thesis was to investigate anticipatory identification: newcomers’ identification with an organisation prior to entry; in particular by exploring the antecedents and consequences of the construct. Although organisational identification has been frequently investigated over the past 25 years, surprisingly little is known about what causes an individual to identify with a new organisation before entry and whether this has an impact on their relationship with the organisation after formally taking up membership. Drawing on a Social Identity approach to organisational identification, it was hypothesised that newcomers would more closely identify with an organisation prior to entry when the organisation was seen as a source of positive social identity and was situationally relevant and meaningful to the newcomer, i.e. salient, during the pre-entry period. It was also hypothesised that anticipatory identification would have post-entry consequences and would predict newcomers’ post-entry identification, turnover intentions and job satisfaction. An indirect relationship between anticipatory identification and post-entry identification through post-entry social identity judgements (termed a “feedback loop” mechanism) was additionally proposed. Finally anticipatory identification was also predicted to moderate the relationship between post-entry social identity judgements and post-entry identification (termed a “buffering” mechanism). Four studies were conducted to test these hypotheses. Study One served as a pilot study, using a retrospective self-report design with s sample of 124 university students to initially test the proposed conceptual model. Studies Two and Three adopted experimental designs. Each used a unique sample of 72 staff and students from Aston University to respectively test the hypothesised positive social identity motive and salience antecedents of anticipatory identification. Study Four explored the relationship between anticipatory identification, its antecedents and consequences longitudinally, using an organisational sample of 45 employees. Overall, these studies found support for a social identity motive antecedent of anticipatory identification, as well as more limited evidence that anticipatory identification was associated with the salience of an organisation prior to entry. Support was inconsistent for a direct relationship between anticipatory identification and post-entry identification and there was no evidence that anticipatory identification was a significant direct predictor of turnover intention and job satisfaction. Anticipatory identification was however found to act as a buffer in the relationship between post-entry social identity judgements and post-entry identification in all but one of the four samples measured. A feedback loop mechanism was observed within the experimental designs of Studies Two and Three, but not within the organisational samples of Studies One and Four. Overall the findings of these four studies highlight key ways through which anticipatory identification can develop prior to entry into an organisation. Moreover, the research observed several important post-entry consequences of anticipatory identification, indicating that an understanding of post-entry identification may be enriched by attending more closely to the extent to which newcomers identify with an organisation prior to entry.
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