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Adjusting to new work teams: Testing work experience as a multidimensional resource for newcomers



The successful performance adjustment of team newcomers is an increasingly important consideration given the prevalence of job-changing and the uncertainty associated with starting work in a new team setting. Consequently, using sensemaking and uncertainty reduction theories as a conceptual basis, the present study tested work experience as a potential resource for newcomer performance adjustment in teams. Specifically, we tested work experience as a multidimensional predictor of both initial newcomer performance and the rate of performance change after team entry. We tested hypotheses using longitudinal newcomer performance data in the context of professional basketball teams. Although the traditional quantitative indicators of the length and amount of work experience were not meaningfully associated with newcomer performance adjustment, their interaction was. In addition, the qualitative indicator of newcomers' past transition experience revealed a significant, positive association with the rate of newcomer performance improvement following team entry. These results suggest that work experience is a meaningful facilitator of newcomer adjustment in teams and emphasize the dual consideration of both quantitative and qualitative work experiences. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.