Person-environment fit | Wikipedia audio article


Person–environment fit (P–E fit) is defined
as the degree to which individual and environmental characteristics match (Dawis, 1992; French,
Caplan, & Harrison, 1982; Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005; Muchinsky & Monahan, 1987).
Person characteristics may include an individual’s biological or psychological needs, values,
goals, abilities, or personality, while environmental characteristics could include intrinsic and
extrinsic rewards, demands of a job or role, cultural values, or characteristics of other
individuals and collectives in the person’s social environment (French et al., 1982).
Due to its important implications in the workplace, person–environment fit has maintained a
prominent position in Industrial and organizational psychology and related fields (for a review
of theories that address person-environment fit in organizations, see Edwards, 2008).
Person–environment fit can be understood as a specific type of person–situation interaction
that involves the match between corresponding person and environment dimensions (Caplan,
1987; French, Rodgers, & Cobb, 1974; Ostroff & Schulte, 2007). Even though person–situation
interactions as they relate to fit have been discussed in the scientific literature for
decades, the field has yet to reach consensus on how to conceptualize and operationalize
person–environment fit. This is due partly to the fact that person–environment fit
encompasses a number of subsets, such as person–supervisor fit and person–job fit, which are conceptually
distinct from one another (Edwards & Shipp, 2007; Kristof, 1996). Nevertheless, it is
generally assumed that person–environment fit leads to positive outcomes, such as satisfaction,
performance, and overall well-being (Ostroff & Schulte, 2007).==Domains=====Person–organization fit===
Person–organization fit (P–O fit) is the most widely studied area of person–environment
fit, and is defined by Kristof (1996) as, “the compatibility between people and organizations
that occurs when (a) at least one entity provides what the other needs, (b) they share similar
fundamental characteristics, or (c) both” (Kristof, 1996). High value congruence is
a large facet of person–organization fit, which implies a strong culture and shared
values among coworkers. This can translate to increased levels of trust and a shared
sense of corporate community (Boon & Hartog, 2011). This high value congruence would in
turn reap benefits for the organization itself, including reduced turnover, increased citizenship
behaviors, and organizational commitment (Andrews et al., 2010; Gregory et al., 2010). The attraction–selection–attrition
theory states that individuals are attracted to and seek to work for organizations where
they perceive high levels of person–organization fit (Gregory et al., 2010). A strong person–organization
fit can also lead to reduced turnover and increased organizational citizenship behaviors
(Andrews, Baker, & Hunt, 2010)===Person–job fit===
Person–job fit, or P–J fit, refers to the compatibility between a person’s characteristics
and those of a specific job (Kristof-Brown & Guay, 2011). The complementary perspective
has been the foundation for person–job fit. This includes the traditional view of selection
that emphasizes the matching of employee KSAs and
other qualities to job demands (Ployhart, Schneider, & Schmitt, 2006). The discrepancy
models of job satisfaction and stress that focus on employees’ needs and desires being
met by the supplies provided by their job (Locke, 1969, 1976).===Person–group fit===
Person–group fit, or P–G fit, is a relatively new topic with regard to person–environment
fit. Since person–group fit is so new, limited research has been conducted to demonstrate
how the psychological compatibility between coworkers influences individual outcomes in
group situations. However, a study by Boone & Hartog (2011) revealed that person–group
fit is most strongly related to group-oriented outcomes like co-worker satisfaction and feelings
of cohesion.===Person–person fit===
Person–person fit is conceptualized as the fit between an individual’s culture preferences
and those preferences of others. It corresponds to the similarity-attraction hypothesis which
states people are drawn to similar others based on their values, attitudes, and opinions
(Van Vianen, 2000). The most studied types are mentors and protégés, supervisors and
subordinates, or even applicants and recruiters. Research has shown that person–supervisor
fit is most strongly related to supervisor-oriented outcomes like supervisor satisfaction (Boon
& Hartog, 2011).==Antecedents=====Training and development===
Training and development on the job can be used to update or enhance skills or knowledge
so employees are more in tune with the requirements and demands of their jobs, or to prepare them
to make the transition into new ones. Training can be used as a socialization method, or
as a way of making the employee aware of the organization’s desired values, which would
aid in increasing person–organization fit (Boone & Hartog, 2011). As people learn about
the organization they are working for through either company-initiated or self-initiated
socialization, they should be able to be more accurate in their appraisal of fit or misfit.
Furthermore, there is evidence that employees come to identify with their organization over
time by mirroring its values, and socialization is a critical part of this process (Kristof-Brown
& Guay, 2011).===Performance appraisal===
In the workplace, performance appraisal and recognition or rewards can be used to stimulate
skill-building and knowledge enhancement (Boone & Hartog, 2011), which would thereby enhance
person–job fit. Expanding upon this notion, Cable and Judge (1994) showed that compensation
systems have a direct effect on job search decisions, and additionally, the effects of
compensation systems on job search decisions are strengthened when the applicant’s personality
characteristics fit with the various components of the compensation system. When an employer’s
aim is to strengthen person–organization fit, they can use performance appraisal to
focus on an employee’s value and goal congruence, and ensure the individual’s goals are in
line with the company’s goals. On a group-level, organizations could evaluate
the achievement of a group or team goal. Recognizing and supporting this achievement would build
trust in the idea that everyone is contributing to the collective for the greater good, and
aid in increasing person–group fit (Boone & Hartog, 2011).===Attraction–selection–attrition processes
===Schneider (1987) proposed attraction–selection–attrition
(ASA) model which addresses how attraction, selection and attrition could generate high
levels of fit in an organization. The model is based on the proposition that it is the
collective characteristics that define an organization. As a result, through the ASA
process, organizations become more homogeneous with respect to people in them.
The attraction process of the model explains how employees find organizations attractive
when they see congruence between characteristics of themselves and values of the organizations.
The next step in ASA process is formal or informal selection procedures used by the
organization during recruitment and hiring of applicants that fit the organization.
From the employee life cycle, recruitment and selection are the first stages that are
taken into account when considering person–environment fit. The complementary model would posit that
selection processes may work in part to select individuals whose values are compatible with
the values of the organization, and screening out those whose values are incompatible (Chatman,
1991). Additionally, in accordance with supplementary fit models, an applicant will seek out and
apply to organizations that they feel represent the values that he or she may have. This theory
is exemplified through a study by Bretz and Judge (1994), which found that individuals
who scored high on team orientation measures were likely to pick an organization that had
good work–family policies in place. Along this same vein, when job searching, applicants
will look for job characteristics such as the amount of participation they will have,
autonomy, and the overall design of the job. These characteristics are shown to be significantly
and positively related to person–organization and person–job fit (Boone & Hartog, 2011),
which is positively associated the measurement of job satisfaction one year after entry (Chatman,
2011). The last process in ASA model is attrition,
which outlines that the misfitting employee would be more likely to make errors once hired,
and therefore leave the organization. Thus, the people who do not fit choose or are forced
to leave, and the people remaining are a more homogeneous group than those who were originally
hired (Kristof-Brown & Guay, 2011), which should then result in higher levels of fit
for individuals in an organization. Lastly, the research suggests that for a better
fit between an employee and a job, organization, or group to be more probable, it is important
to spend an adequate amount of time with the applicant. This is because spending time with
members before they enter the firm has been found to be positively associated with the
alignment between individual values and firm values at entry (Chatman, 1991). Furthermore,
if there are more extensive HR practices in place in the selection phase of hiring, then
people are more likely to report that they experience better fits with their job and
the organization as a whole (Boon et al., 2011).==Consequences==
There are few studies that have taken upon the task of trying to synthesize the different
types of fit in order to draw significant conclusions about the true impact of fit on
individual-level outcomes. However, some progress has been made, but most of the existing reviews
have been non-quantitative, undifferentiated between various types of fit, or focused solely
on single types of person–environment fit (Kristof-Brown et al., 2005).
Person–environment fit has been linked to a number of affective outcomes, including
job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and intent to quit. Among which, job satisfaction
is the attitude most strongly predicted by person–job fit (Kristof-Brown & Guay, 2011).
Stress has also been demonstrated as a consequence of poor person–environment fit, especially
in the absence of the complementary fit dimension (Kristof-Brown & Guay, 2011). Since main effects
of E are often greater than those of P, making insufficient supplies (P>E) is more detrimental
for attitudes than excess supplies (P

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