The mud, the blood, and the beer guys: Organizational osmosis in blue-collar work groups

Melissa K. Gibson, Michael J. Papa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


This essay examines the communicative processes associated with organizational assimilation within blue-collar work groups in a manufacturing company. The study hinges on a heretofore unidentified variation to traditional assimilation models, labeled as organizational osmosis. Organizational osmosis refers to the seemingly effortless adoption of the ideas, values, and culture of an organization on the basis of preexisting socialization experiences. The study explores how a common ideological grounding and anticipatory socialization experiences increase identification mechanisms among work group members. This ideological grounding is influenced by interaction with family, friends, and peers during anticipatory stages and results in organizational osmosis. Because these newcomers strongly identify with the values and goals of the organization, these members submit to mechanisms of control and discipline in their work group. The essay concludes with implications for the future study of communication within blue-collar work populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-88
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2000


  • Blue-collar workers
  • Concertive control
  • Identification
  • Ideology
  • Organizational assimilation
  • Organizational osmosis


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