Chen, J. and Cooper-Thomas, H.D. (2021), "The effects of individual differentiation on newcomer group identification", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 461-473.


With organizations hiring from increasingly diverse labor markets, this study aims to examine the implications of newcomers’ individual differentiation for their group identification. The paper proposes and tests a self-verification process in which individual differentiation predicts group identification through role innovation under positive social feedback on innovation (moderated mediation). Simultaneously, a self-categorization pathway is examined of the indirect negative influence of individual differentiation on group identification through role modeling (mediation).


Survey data were collected at three time points from 161 UK university alumni.


The analyses support a self-verification pathway: newcomers with high individual differentiation report higher group identification via role innovation only when they receive positive feedback on their innovative actions. However, there was no support for a self-categorization pathway, with no indirect relationship found between individual differentiation and group identification via role modeling.

Practical implications

HR practitioners and managers who are responsible for helping newcomers adjust should consider newcomers’ individual differentiation. Specifically, newcomers with high individual differentiation may more successfully navigate their transition and identify with their workgroup when given appropriate support, such as positive social feedback on their innovative actions.


The study extends organizational socialization research by focusing on when newcomers with high individual differentiation may experience group identification. The findings highlight the important role of positive social feedback on group identification; this suggests a potential means by which newcomers with high individual differentiation can settle successfully.