Previous research has demonstrated that employee fit – the compatibility between an employee and a work environment – generally lead to better attitudes, better job performance, and lower turnover (Arthur, Bell, Villado, & Doverspike, 2006). However, this research has focused predominantly on populations in North America. Today, companies operate across geographical boundaries in a globalized world of business, and it does not seem prudent to apply results found in North America to countries in Europe and Asia. Therefore, it becomes necessary to understand if fit across cultures predicts work attitudes and job performance across the globe.
PREDICTING GLOBAL FIT
For this study, the authors (Oh et al., 2013) reviewed 96 studies that had previously been conducted in East Asia, Europe, and North America. First, they found that fit predicts work attitudes – such as organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and intent to quit – as well as job performance across cultures. In taking this result further, the authors then looked at different types of fit, how they may vary across cultures, and how this may influence job performance.
The authors identified four types of fit:
- person-job fit, or compatibility between employees and their jobs
- person–organization fit, or compatibility between employees and their organizations
- person–group fit, or compatibility between employees and their coworkers
- person–supervisor fit, or compatibility between employees and their direct supervisors
These types of compatibility were then grouped into two types: impersonal and interpersonal. The compatibility between employees and their jobs or organizations were categorized as an impersonal type of fit, since they do not concern interpersonal and social aspects of work. The compatibility between employees and their co-workers or their bosses were categorized as an interpersonal type of fit, since they are directly concerned with how well employees relate to other people in the workplace.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In comparing fit and performance across cultures, impersonal fit had stronger effects in North America and Europe, while interpersonal fit had stronger effects in East Asia. In other words, for Westerners, matching an employee to the right role and organization is most important, while human resource management in East Asian business environments should take special care to build positive teams in which social conflict is kept to a minimum.
Oh, I.-S., Guay, R. P., Kim, K., Harold, C. M., Lee, J.-H., Heo, C.-G., & Shin, K.-H. (2013) Fit Happens Globally: A Meta‐Analytic Comparison of the Relationships of Person–Environment Fit Dimensions with Work Attitudes and Performance Across East Asia, Europe, and North America. Personnel Psychology, 67(1), 99-152.