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Methods to access information on corporate culture during the acculturation process
As it has been mentioned, new company members have several information sources to access. M.P.Louis distinguishes seven ways to access information on corporate culture used by new employees:
1 Open methods of direct questions, when a new employee asks a corporate culture agent directly about a certain problem;
2 Questions may be asked indirectly, i.e. when an employee tries to save his/her face (e.g. when a question concerns his/her professional skills or when an employee does not feel at ease in a situation or with a certain agent);
3 A new employee may ask a third party, e.g. replacing the primary source of information (a superior) with the secondary one (a colleague). The third party is addressed when the main information source either inaccessible or when one needs clarifications of the information, received from the main source.
4 Sometimes new members may violate rules watching other people’s reaction in order to see how much and under what conditions these rules must be followed.
5 New members may try to gain trust and fish out of an agent some specific information in an indirect, covert way.
6 They may use the method of targeted observation, watching other people in certain production situations.
7 New employees may apply the method of general observation, learning what goes on, what colleagues talk about, the way communication is maintain between different departments, between superiors, with superiors and with clients. Unlike the method of targeted observation, this one is not directed at any particular target and is not of regular nature.
For example, getting ready for a meeting with top managers, an employee can ask his/her superior about the conventional dress code, look at the clothes of a colleague who has just returned from a similar meeting or tell other colleagues a story about how he, working for the other company, saw his colleague violating the dress code at a meeting and watch the hearers’ reaction. Every of the methods will help him/her to understand the dress code policy in the company.
The less similarity one sees in a new company, the less experience he/she has in switching roles, the more often he/she will use observation methods and the less often – direct questions. New employees with high self-esteem will resort to direct questions more often that those with low self-esteem. The newer the context is, the more complex the issues of acculturation are: a new employee with considerable experience in the cultural context will get less cultural information to process and to learn than those who have no or little experience in this context.
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