Digest No. 01 - November 2016

Settling in: The Role of Individual and Departmental Tactics in the Development of New Faculty Networks

Fleming, S.S., A.W. Goldman, S.J. Correll, and C.J. Taylor. 2016. “Settling in: The Role of Individual and Departmental Tactics in the Development of New Faculty Networks.” The Journal of Higher Education, 87(4), 544–572.


Faculty members new to a college or university adjust to its organization through the process of organizational socialization. More specifically, organizational socialization entails the acquisition of attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge needed to participate as a member of the organization (Feldman 1976; Van Maanen and Schein 1979). Increased job satisfaction (Ashforth and Saks 1996) and greater levels of role performance (Lee, Mitchell, Sablynski, Burton and Holtom 2004) or productivity (Dess and Shaw, 2001) constitute positive effects of successful organizational socialization in contrast to employee turnover as a consequence of ineffective organizational socialization (Fisher 1986). As a result effective organizational socialization stands as an important matter for campus leaders especially for those colleges and universities that are able to hire new faculty members.

The development of newcomer social networks plays an important role in the process of organizational socialization (Carpenter, Li, and Jiang 2012). Susan S. Fleming, Alyssa W. Goldman, Shelley J. Correll, and Catherine J. Taylor conducted a qualitative inquiry to ascertain how newcomer social networks develop. They interviewed 34 new untenured, tenure-track faculty members at a large highly competitive research university. These in-depth, structured interviews included questions about the social connections used to gather information, advice, influences, and research collaborations. Other questions centered on the social connections used for friendship and emotional support. Interview questions also explored the intentional and unintentional strategies new faculty members used to make the needed social contacts.


Fleming et al. identified common categories and themes from the analysis of the interviews. They found seven factors that influence the formation of networks and the degree to which new faculty members perceived themselves to be integrated into their academic departments. These factors are: department culture and department chair, mentoring, research collaboration, degree of interdisciplinarity of the participant’s field, physical location of the participant’s office, degree of involvement in department committee work, and the breadth of the participant’s peer network. The researchers arrayed these seven factors into individual and departmental dimensions. Through their analyses of these seven factors the authors discerned the importance of organizational factors to networking as a key finding of this study. To elaborate, they identified the characteristics of academic departments that enhanced the networking and integration of new faculty members into the department. The researchers labeled such departments as “Enhancing Departments.”

Characteristics of enhancing departments include a supportive and welcoming department culture and chairperson, an effective mentoring program, active assistance to faculty members seeking collaboration with other faculty members, the assignment of new faculty members to important committees, placement of new faculty offices that prevent the isolation of new faculty members and encourages interaction between junior and senior faculty members, and the presence of other pre-tenure faculty peers.


These characteristics of enhancing departments provide presidents and chief academic officers at CIC colleges and universities with organizational tactics to foster the organizational socialization of faculty members new to their college or university. Put differently, these characteristics as organizational tactics offer clear-cut recommendations for action by chief academic officers. In conjunction with department chairs, chief academic officers should take the following actions:

  • Assign a mentor to each new faculty member. Informal mentoring as well as formal mentoring should be fostered.
  • Assign new faculty members to key institutional or departmental committees. Such an assignment entails a trade-off between the benefits of committee membership and the time that committee work takes away from new faculty member’s teaching and research.
  • When possible, new faculty members should be assigned to offices that encourage interactions between new faculty, senior faculty, and pre-tenure peers.



There are two categories of literature that readers may wish to consult to further their understanding of new faculty and organizational socialization. One category includes some of the references cited in this article review and the other category includes references that provide readers with an understanding of organizational socialization.


Ashforth, B.E., and A.M. Saks. 1996. “Socialization Tactics: Longitudinal Effects on Newcomer Adjustment.” Academic of Management Journal, 39(1), 149–178.

Carpenter, M.A., M. Li, and H. Jiang. 2012. “Social Network Research in Organizational Contexts: A Systematic Review of Methodological Issues and Choices.” Journal of Management, 38(4), 1328–1361.

Dess, G.G. and J.D. Shaw. 2001. “Voluntary Turnover, Social Capital, and Organizational Performance.” Academy of Management Review, 26(3), 446-456.

Feldman, D.C. 1976. “A practical program for employee socialization.” Organizational Dynamics, 5(2), 64–89.

Fisher, C.D. 1986. “Organizational socialization: An Integrative Review.” In K.M. Rowland and G.R. Ferris (Eds.) Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 4, 101–145, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Lee, T.W., T.R. Mitchell, C.J. Sablynski, J.P. Burton and B.C. Holtom. 2004. “The Effects of Job Embededness on Organizational Citizenship, Job Performance, Volitional Absences, and Voluntary Turnover.” Academy of Management Journal, 47 (5), 711–722.


Tierney, W.G., and E.M. Bensimon. 1996. Promotion and Tenure: Community and Socialization in Academe. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Van Maanen, J., and E.H. Schein. 1979. Towards a Theory of Organizational Socialization.” In B.M. Staw (Ed.) Research in Organizational Behavior, 1, 209–264, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.