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EAWOP Small Group Meeting on Opening New Frontiers in Person–Environment Fit Research


EAWOP Small Group Meeting on

Opening New Frontiers in Person – Environment Fit Research

Call for Papers

October 15-16, 2014

Organizers: Hannah Berkers; Corine Boon; Annebel de Hoogh; Deanne den Hartog; Gábor Kismihók; & Stefan Mol

Amsterdam Business School, University of Amsterdam

Confirmed Keynote:

Jon Billsberry

In this small group meeting, we will set out to discuss recent developments and identify future research directions in the area of Person Environment fit in the broadest sense of the word. Considerable research attention has been devoted to PE fit. Research consistently shows that PE fit positively affects employee attitudes, behaviors, and performance (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005). However, the concept of fit remains “questionably defined and often misunderstood. Yet it is one of the most widely used psychological constructs in industrial and work psychology.” (Kristof-Brown & Billsberry, 2013, p.1). Two books and several meta-analyses have given an overview of the key issues and latest developments in the area of fit (e.g., Kristof-Brown & Billsberry, 2013; Kristof-Brown, et al., 2005; Ostroff & Judge, 2007); Ostroff and Judge’s (2007) book included mainly American contributions, and a few years later, Kristof-Brown and Billsberry (2013) took a more international perspective. Kristof-Brown and Billsberry (2013) show with their book that there are many research directions to pursue in the area of PE fit, and that there are many active PE fit researchers in Europe. Despite this, at the previous EAWOP conferences only a few PE fit contributions were included in the program. Therefore, in this Small Group Meeting on PE fit, we aim to bring (European) work and organizational psychologists together to discuss recent developments and future research directions in the area of PE fit. Specifically, we invite contributions on the following themes, although topics that do not fit these themes are welcome as well: i) elucidating the “E” in PE fit; ii) explorations of the interactions between types of fit; iii) investigations of the nature and outcomes of misfit; iv) operationalizations of objective measures of (demands-abilities) fit; and v) studies investigating temporal dynamics of PE fit.

Theme 1: Elucidating the “E” in PE fit

Similar to research on psychological contracts, in which we know much more about the employee side than that of the nebulous organization (Guest, 1998), PE fit research has generally fared better in illuminating the person than the environment. Many types of fit are distinguished, such as person-organization, person-job, person-group and person-supervisor fit, and within these conceptualizations, also many variations occur (Kristof-Brown, et al., 2005). For example, the ‘organization’ has been conceptualized as organizational goals, values, personality, and other characteristics.

Theme 2: Explorations of the interactions between types of fit

Besides the lack of clarity about the operationalization of aspects of the environment, there is a paucity of research on multiple types of fit, rather than studying one type of fit in isolation (e.g., Kristof-Brown, et al., 2005). Employees do not perform jobs in isolation; they are influenced by many aspects of the work environment. Therefore, interactions between multiple aspects of the environment may play a role in explaining work-related attitudes and behaviors (Jansen & Kristof-Brown, 2006; Kristof-Brown, Jansen, & Colbert, 2002; Resick, Baltes, & Walker Shantz, 2007). For example, high fit with one aspect of the environment may compensate for low fit in another area (Resick, et al., 2007); if people experience a good fit with one aspect of the work environment, a lack of fit with other aspects of the environment may be less salient (Jansen and Kristof-Brown, 2006; Resick, et al., 2007). In line with this, a few studies have found interactions between PO, PJ and PG fit (Jansen and Kristof-Brown, 2006; Resick, et al., 2007). However, research in this area is scarce, and other interactions with aspects of the environment may be possible, for example with the supervisor. More research is needed to explore other types of interactions between types of fit.

Theme 3: Investigations of the nature and outcomes of misfit

Contrary to fit, misfit is studied less and is mostly assumed to have a negative impact as it is conceptualized as the opposite of fit. As Edwards (2008: 216) points out, the assumption often seems to be that if “fit is positively related to an outcome [this] implies that misfit is negatively related to the outcome” (see also Edwards, Cable, Williamson, Schurer Lambert, & Shipp, 2006). However, this view would imply that the direction of the misfit would not matter, which is a questionable assumption (Edwards, 2008) as not every misfit would necessarily have (the same) negative effects. For example, the importance of fit and misfit might differ depending on the sector or occupation (Yang, Levine, Smith, Ispas, & Rossi, 2008). This raises questions about which levels of fit and misfit are desirable, when or in which areas misfit might be important, how fit and misfit may co-exist, and how both fit and misfit can be influenced. Although misfit as a concept is mentioned regularly, empirical research that focuses specifically on misfit to date is scarce (Billsberry, Ambrosini, Moss-Jones, & Marsh, 2005; Edwards, 2008; Kristof-Brown & Guay, 2010).

Theme 4: Operationalizations of objective measures of (demands-abilities) fit

Within the person-job fit literature it has often been asserted and meta-analytically shown that demands-abilities fit is related to a number of desirable outcomes, such as job attitudes, job performance, withdrawal, strain and tenure (Boon, Den Hartog, Boselie & Paauwe, 2011; Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman & Johnson, 2005). According to Kristof-Brown et al. (2005) demands abilities fit occurs when a person’s knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s) match the requirements of the job, yet measures for demands abilities fit do not typically do justice to this definition, and assess self-ratings of the perceived degree of fit between an individual employee’s KSA’s and the requirements of the job by asking questions such as ‘The match is very good between the demands of my job and my personal skills’ (Cable & DeRue, 2002, p. 879). It is our contention that research needs also to address more objective measures of demands-abilities fit that may be derived by theoretically matching and subsequently correlating manifest indicators of KSA’s with real indicators of job demands.

Theme 5: Studies investigating temporal dynamics of PE fit.

Current conceptualizations of fit tend to be relatively static. They do not take into account that P and E and hence the fit can change over time. Only few studies incorporate this process view (Caldwell, Herold & Fedor, 2004). Caldwell et al. argue that “whether focusing on job applicants, new employees, or existing employees, the PE fit literature usually presumes that fit perceptions are based on the assessment of the congruence between two relatively stable entities, the work environment and the individual. As a result, we know much less about causes or consequences of shifts in either the environment or the individual”. Also, Schneider (2001) challenges researchers to consider how broader and more dynamic aspects of employees’ environment may affect PE fit. Some researchers have started to incorporate dynamics, such as the concept of ‘fitting’ (Kristof-Brown and Jansen, 2007; Wingreen and Blanton, 2007), or dynamic fit (DeRue and Morgeson, 2007; Shipp and Jansen, 2011), but to date, most fit conceptualizations do not incorporate possible changes in the level of fit over time. More research is needed to further explore the process of fitting over time.

Conference Program

This EAWOP Small Group Meeting will last for two days, and each day will be initiated by a Keynote Address (one of which will be delivered by Jon Billsberry), followed by two thematic plenary paper sessions (in which four to five papers will be presented and discussed). Day one will be concluded with an informal networking meeting and day two with a roundtable in which the foundations for an EJWOP position paper will be laid. Participation is free of charge (conditional upon acceptance) and two lunches, one dinner, and daytime consumptions will be provided for. 


The meeting will be hosted at the Amsterdam Business School of the University of Amsterdam which is located in the heart of this bustling city. For more information about Amsterdam, please see

Abstract Submission

The submission deadline for the extended abstract (1000 word maximum) is June 15st 2014; 23:59 (CET). All abstracts must be submitted online at All submissions will be subject to double blind peer review. Each submission will be reviewed and rated along criteria pertaining to theoretical, methodological adequacy and thematic and practical relevance. Furthermore, reviewers will be encouraged to provide detailed comments on each submission, so that even those submitters who end up not making it through the peer review process will stand to benefit. Working papers should be submitted by August 1st, 2014, so that these can be distributed to all meeting participants well before the October 15th meeting.