Attracting employees : the lure of identification inducements in the external communication of new organizations



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Although a vast amount of research has examined why job seekers become attracted to organizations, few studies have focused on how job seekers develop an initial attraction and attachment to organizations. In order to address this gap in the literature, this study examined the relationship between the ways new organizations communicate and potential job seekers' perceptions of organizational attractiveness and anticipatory organizational identification. The organizational identification literature has previously shown that organizations often use a variety of inducements in their communication to foster identification among members, and that when members perceive that membership in an organization is an opportunity to affirm, distinguish, or enhance their self-concepts, the perceived organizational identity becomes more attractive. Drawing upon these findings, this study posited that a similar relationship would occur between organizations and potential job seekers. In addition, based on findings on social categorization, this study examined whether the effectiveness of identification inducements varied depending on whether the new organization was situated within an established or emerging industry. In established industries, new organizations face the risk of being stereotyped based on job seekers' preexisting knowledge of the industry, and therefore effectively invisible to job seekers as unique organizations. In emerging industries, because it is not entirely clear what defines this set of organizations, new organizations face the risk that job seekers may be less certain about how they might connect with these organizations, and therefore tend to find them less attractive. As a consequence of these cognitive differences, this study posited that the effectiveness of identification inducements would depend on the type of industry. An experiment was conducted to test these hypotheses. Participants consisted of students either currently or recently active in job seeking activities. The findings indicate that the presence of identification inducements in an organization's external communication positively impacted job seekers' perceptions and attachment to organizations, and that the primary mechanism for this effect was job seekers' perception of similarity. No differences were found between new organizations in established versus emerging industries in terms of the impact of identification inducements. Theoretical and managerial implications of these results were discussed.