Work-role transitions: A longitudinal examination of the Nicholson model


Department of Management, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1M8


Work-role transitions theory (Nicholson, 1984) maintains that entry into a new role induces personal and/or role development. Personal development is argued to be a function of role novelty and the newcomer's desire for feedback, while role development is argued to be a function of role discretion and desire for control. Utilizing self-report data from business school graduates after four months (N = 295) and 10 months (N = 223) on the job, we found only mixed support for the model. We argue that the model can be enriched by considering newcomer desires that are directly aroused by situational-specific cues, by considering personal and role development as interacting rather than independent processes, by considering the valence of certain personal and role developments, and by considering the influence of social referents on role transitions.