Purpose: Induction is the process of newcomers entering and becoming part of an organization. In one sense newcomers represents an opportunity for organizations to learn and change, but in another sense newcomers are instigated into an existing institutional order. The purpose of this paper is to explore how induction of newcomers can be understood as both organizational renewal and the maintenance of status quo, and to develop ways of describing this in terms of learning. Design/methodology/approach: The article is designed as a qualitative study of induction practices in two branches of a Danish retail bank and a Danish management consulting company. The data is based on 30 semi-structured interviews and on some observations in the case companies. The data has subsequently been analyzed phenomenologically and thematically in light of a pragmatist understanding of learning. Findings: The paper provides two main findings. 1) The duality of induction, in terms of organizational renewal and the maintenance of status quo can be conceptualized and meaningfully discussed through the metaphors of organizational rhythm and generative dance. And 2), if this ambiguous dimension of induction is recognized, organizational idiosyncrasies, ways of doing and taken-for-granted aspects can be thrown up for discussion and thus potentially change or stabilize organizational practice based on persons and institutional order. Research limitations/implications: The paper adds to the growing academic debate of the complex nature of practice in general, and induction in particular. In addition the paper has implications for practitioners involved in induction, as the paper highlights the need to rethink induction as both an opportunity to create organizational renewal and a way of maintaining status quo. Originality/value: Seeing the duality of induction and exploring it through the metaphors of organizational rhythm and generative dancing is original and potentially enriching for researchers and practitioners.
Society and Business Review, 2010, Vol 5, Issue 2, p. 130-143