Organisational Fit and Misfit: An Empirical Study of Similartities and Differences

Talbot, Danielle Laurette (2011). Organisational Fit and Misfit: An Empirical Study of Similartities and Differences. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis focuses on employees' experiences of fit and misfit at work. This falls within the person-environment fit (PE fit) literature which is based on principles founded in interactional psychology that when a person fits the environment that they are in, positive outcomes, such as job satisfaction, will result. Despite a wealth of empirical studies in the PE fit field studying various aspects of individuals' fit with their work environment, there are significant gaps in knowledge and understanding. One of these is that little research has investigated how employees experience fit and misfit. A second gap is that little is known about misfit and whether this is the opposite to fit, an absence of fit or a separate categorical state. The research focused on these gaps in the literature and took a qualitative, exploratory approach to gain in-depth understanding of the factors affecting individuals' fit in organisations.

Causal mapping techniques were used to allow the study's participants to express their perceptions without being prompted to speak a bout specific topics. The resulting data were coded using measures from the PE fit literature to explore whether the extant measures adequately captured people's experiences and also to assess whether there were differences between fit and misfit. The research found that the extant PE fit measures explained participants' experiences of fit and misfit well but that as these are focused on factors within the organisational environment, they miss external factors such as people's links with their communities. It seems that the majority of individuals experience misfit to some extent but that overwhelming misfit perceptions can be triggered by a change in the organisation. Misfit and fit are shown to differ, most profoundly in that whereas fit is a positive experience, misfit is negative and a state to be avoided.

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