When onboarding becomes risky: Extending social learning theory to explain newcomers’ adoption of heavy drinking with clients

Songqi Liu, Peter Bamberger, Mo Wang, Junqi Shi, Samuel B. Bacharach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

What drives newcomers to adopt behaviors that, while perhaps helping them meet short-term role demands and organizational objectives, may also place themselves and/or their organization at risk in the long term? Based on social learning theory, research on onboarding and newcomer socialization suggests that such behavior may be explained by peer modeling. But is this always the case? Using heavy drinking with clients as an empirical referent and incorporating factors from research on learning in risky choice into a model grounded on social learning theory, we examine how contextual variables moderate the effect of veteran peer modeling on newcomer adoption or intensification of work-related risky behaviors over time, and demonstrate the impact of adoption/intensification on newcomer outcomes. Data from a longitudinal study of newcomers, their veteran peers, and supervisors in sales and client-service indicate that the extent to which veteran modeling influences the adoption/intensification of newcomer heavy drinking with clients depends on newcomers’ prior experiences and veteran peer (but not supervisor) guidance. Moreover, they indicate that steeper increases in heavy drinking with clients over time, while associated with improved job performance, also link to higher work-to-family conflict and turnover risk. Implications for research on onboarding and newcomer socialization are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-710
Number of pages29
JournalHuman Relations
Volume73
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2020

Keywords

  • latent change score modeling
  • newcomer learning
  • onboarding
  • risky behavior at work
  • socialization

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