The Emergence and Development of a Psychodynamic Approach to Japanese Managerial Operations In Search of Hidden Relationships

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Title: The Emergence and Development of a Psychodynamic Approach to Japanese Managerial Operations In Search of Hidden Relationships: The Unconscious Process of Organizational Socialization
Year: 1996
Authors: Takahash, K., & Watanabe, N.

Organizational socialization is defined as "a process in which people learn the rules, norms, culture of the organization, roles that were provided by the organization they join, and technical skills that were inevitable to well perform their job(s)" (Takahashi, 1994a). Since the terms "people" mostly refers to the newcomers of organization, organizational socialization is frequently meant as longitudinal "learning-the-ropes" process of newcomers (Schein, 1968). As mentioned in sociology, socialization is composed of essential groups of tasks in order for people in the society to become members of the society, so organizational socialization is a requisite assignment for the outsiders of the organization to be insiders therein.

Past studies of organizational socialization were mostly executed by organizational psychologists and sociologists (Takahashi, 1993). Their primary purpose was to reveal: (1)the identification of socialization variables: antecedents, contents, and consequences, including development of scales for measuring people's degree of socialization (e.g., Chao, O'Leary- Kelly, Wolf, Klein, & Gardener, 1995; Takahashi, 1994a; Taormina, 1994); (2)the process wherein casual relationships among those variables can exist (e.g., Buchanan, 1974; Feldman, 1976; Schein, 1978); (3)the strategies/tactics adopted by agents of socialization to facilitate people's accomplishment of socialization tasks (e.g., Jones, 1983; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979); and (4)the relationships between agents and newcomers (e.g., Kram, 1985; Weiss, 1977).

Typical studies of organizational socialization could be categorized based on four criteria stated above. For examples, Feldman's (1976) cross-sectional empirical study, one of the most cited studies, could be classified as the combination of criteria (1) and (2), for he first tried to identify contents of socialization as eight categories of independent tasks to be accomplished and consequences as four work attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction, internal work motivation, job involvement, etc.) of newcomers.

Past studies of organizational socialization were based mostly on the quantitative approach, which we believe has limited our knowledge about organizational socialization. Based on Schein's (1978) argument, Takahashi (1994a) pointed out that organizational socialization is referred to as "a dynamic process among newcomers and agents of socialization mutually evaluate, interact, and influence whereupon psychodynamic relationships among them could occur." That is, the quantitative focus in past studies has narrowed our cognizance about the irrational processa psychodynamic processof organizational socialization between newcomers and agents of socialization, despite that all activities in the socialization process happen between two subjects: socializers (agents) and socializees (newcomers).

Reviewing the past studies which were based on rational viewpoint, agents of socialization were primarily meant for members, groups inside and outside of the organization, and the organization itself. In this paper, however, to the agents we add internalized agents on person's conscious and unconscious process, which allows us to deliberate on the irrational aspect of organizational socialization.

On entering into the organization, socializees must face a series of socializers whose formal mission (namely, expected role) is to socialize newcomers toward the organization. Nevertheless, relationships of both subjects are likely to be pathological so that the formal mission is contaminated. Socializers may hold and maintain past traumatic experiences and, if socializers are composed of a group of persons, their collective fantasies may also be arisen: this is a case to consider. Besides, there are cases in which socializers attempt to socialize newcomers toward themselves rather than toward the organization in order to create and keep their power, concealing adroitly between socializers and socializees. Such a socializers/socializees relationships (SS relationships) is a basic component of organizational socialization.

Except for a few researches (e.g., Baum, 1990, 1992), the irrational aspects of organizational socialization has not been explored eagerly and sufficiently. We have illustrated research topics above. They have certainly been discussed from a "rational" perspective (e.g.,perspective of organizational psychology), but they must also be explored from "irrational" viewpoints (e.g., psychoanalysis), since we believe there are many problems left unsolved and unsolvable. For example, past researches explored the SS relationships insignificantly, the perspective of which was "rational."

The purpose of this study is to argue some issues of organizational socialization from the perspectives of clinical psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychoanalytic studies. Especially, well considered is the "hidden relationships" between socializers and socializee. The arguments and consideration in this paper will be based on a mixture of clinical psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychoanalytic studies, rather than being too psychoanalysis-oriented. In order for arguments to avoid being too speculative, some actual interactions will be presented which were obtained from interviews.

First, we will refer to the nature of socializers and socializees and the irrational relationships between them. Both subjects must be dichotomized into socialized and unsocialized, experienced and unexperienced, and experts and novices (Fisher, 1986), even though they are not different in the very sense that they are working for/in the same organization.

Next, we will highlight dysfunctional and destructive effects that Human Resource Management policies have, per se. Central to the discussion is the "dissocializing influence" of the collective initiation training for newcomers (shin'nyu-shain kenshu, in Japanese). Finally, implication for future research is discussed briefly.

Keywords: Japanese Managerial Operations, Unconscious Process, Organizational Socialization
Language: English

Date: 6/15/1996
Location: New York, NY
Name of Event/Conference: 13th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations
Sponsoring Organization: ISPSO

Submitted by:
Elizabeth Novogratz

Corresponding author:

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