Cross Cultural Management: AnInternational Journal
Vol. 16 No. 2, 2009pp. 179-196
# Emerald Group Publishing Limited1352-7606
Person/organization job-fittingand affective commitment to
the organizationPerspectives from the UAE
Mohamed H. BeheryDepartment of Management, College of Business Administration,
University of Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Purpose The aim of this paper is to examine the mediation effect of the psychological contract (PC)on the relationship between personorganization (P-O) fit, personjob (P-J) fit and affectivecommitment to the organization (organizational affective commitment or OAC).Design/methodology/approach The empirical data for the study were collected using self-administered questionnaires with 960 participants from 16 large companies in the UAE. Respondentswere asked to provide their perceptions of the main concepts used in the study.Findings The results indicate that P-O fit and P-J fit were positively related to the OAC. Inaddition, the PC was found to be a partial mediator between P-O fit, P-J fit and OAC.Research limitations/implications The findings imply that managers should take intoconsideration the P-O fit when selecting new employees.Originality/value Since little is known about the process by which UAE organizations promotethe P-J fit, P-O fit or OAC, this article contribute to the literature by examining HRM practices in anon-western, cross-cultural context.
Keywords Employees, Job satisfaction, Psychological contracts, Organizational culture,United Arab Emirates
Paper type Research paper
IntroductionIn the fields of organizational behavior and human resource management, research onpersonorganization fit (P-O), personjob fit (P-J), or congruence between thecharacteristics of individuals and those of their jobs and the organizations they workfor is prevalent (Edwards, 1991; Kristof, 1996; Werbel and Johnson, 2001). Research hasindicated that the degree of fit between the person and the organization and the fitbetween the person and the job is related to both productivity and employeecommitment (Rousseau and McLean Parks, 1992). Many organizational behaviortheorists believe a good fit between the person and the organization is important (Halland Moss, 1998; McBain, 1997; Sekiguchi, 2003). The present study examines P-O fitand P-J fit. These two relationships have been selected from the many that have beenused to describe the various forms of personenvironment fit (McBain, 1997; Kristof,1996) because these types of fit appear to be most influential in the selection practicesused by employers (Sekiguchi, 2003). One measure of the degree of fit is based on theidea of the psychological contract (PC), which is both perceptual and individual(Rousseau and McLean Parks, 1992).
Robinson and Rousseau (1994) reported that almost half of the employees in theirstudy reported that their PC had been violated. The ambiguous, unwritten andindividual nature of the PC, which is based on perceptions rather than reality, makesit different from all other forms of contract, as well as making it difficult to evaluate.
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The PC extends the concept of loyalty and commitment to the organization and focuseson the employeeemployer relationship (Millward and Hopkins, 1998; Rousseau andMcLean Parks, 1992).
Little progress has been made in extending P-O and P-J fit research toward moreapplied and practical fields. The dominant research on P-O and P-J fit has been conductedin a Western context, but little research has considered international or cross-culturalfactors. Consequently, the present research is timely in analyzing these concepts and theserelationships in another (non-western) country and making cross-cultural comparison(Sommer et al., 1996, p. 979). This study reports further progress in this area and identifiestheoretical issues in relation to cross-cultural management. That is, the study focuses onthe UAE to expand the fundamental and nomological understandings of these concepts.Further justification for using this specific research context will be given below.
A strategic approach to HR: EmiratizationMany organizations from the developed world have started to explore and conquer theUAE market and to compete with local rivals, using their world-class standards andbusiness networks as competitive advantage (Suliman, 2003; Yang, 2002a, b). Manyfactors have played important roles in the development of HRM in the UAE. First, theGovernment has been strongly committed to the development of human capital(Ahmed, 2003). Second, the adoption of a market economy has attracted skilled andprofessional employees to work in the UAE (Forrest, 2004). Third, globalization,coupled with the development in technology and communication, has provided alltypes of managers in the UAE with access to modem HR practices (Forrest, 2004;Morada, 2002). These factors might not be exclusive to the UAE, but the businessenvironment also has something special, the Emiratization program. As a way ofreducing dependency on foreign workers, correcting the population imbalance andcurbing the influx of foreign workers, the UAE Government developed a new programcalled Emiratization in the l990s (Suliman, 2003). Correcting the imbalance in thelabor market and bringing locals into the workforce in sufficient numbers seems to be adifficult process and it is likely to take a long time. Forrest (2003) argued that HRmanagers in the UAE are challenged to bridge the gap between companies strategicobjectives of hiring UAE nationals and line managers expectations that newlyrecruited workers will be fully qualified, while fully qualified UAE nationals are inshort supply. Thus, many UAE organizations have begun to take a serious second lookat their current recruitment practices (Al-Qatami, 2003). The feeling is increasinglyprevalent among HR professionals that recruitment practices must become moreefficient, timely and possibly even more aggressive, since many organizations are yet todiscover the direct link between investing in people and work outcomes such ascustomer satisfaction, high work performance and profit. Therefore, the present studyaims to help UAE organizations to achieve the best possible fit between an employee,the organization and his or her job.
Organizational affective commitmentOrganizational commitment (OC) has been defined in a number of different ways. Forexample, Mowday et al. (1979) showed that OC comprises three dimensions: a strong beliefin and acceptance of the organizations goals and values, a willingness to exert considerableeffort on the organizations behalf and a strong desire to maintain membership of theorganization. In another case, Allen and Meyer (1990) developed a three-component modelof commitment that integrates affective, continuance and normative commitment. They
argued that the affective component is determined by work experiences relating to the jobof the person and structural characteristics. Continuance is determined by the magnitudeand number of investments that have been made in the current organization and thenumber of perceived alternatives. Lastly, the normative component is determined by anindividuals experiences prior to entry and during employment in the organization in termsof familial, cultural and organizational socialization.
More specifically, and relating to OC within the Arab region, the current study arguesthat although there is a belief among Arab researchers and managers that a committedworkforce is a powerful source of competitive advantage and success, commitmentresearch in the Arab world has been somewhat overlooked (Abdulla and Shaw, 1999). Asfar as the UAE is concerned, the issue remains unexplored (Abdulla and Shaw, 1999).The first commitment study was conducted in 1996 by Awamleh (1996) whoconceptualized commitment as a unidimensional concept. This was not consistent withthe previous empirical research of Lydka (1994) that concluded that it is now generallyaccepted that OC is a multidimensional construct comprising at least attitudinal andbehavioral commitment. It has been stressed in the literature that the focus ofcommitment research should be on the lower and middle level employees as well as onthe top level managers (Abdulla and Shaw, 1999; Suliman, 1995). This will be the mainfocus of the present study. Because of the special nature of the topic of the current study,the focus will be on affective commitment, which is defined as an individuals emotionalbond with and attachment to his or her organization (Meyer and Allen, 1991). Asmentioned earlier in this section, this type of commitment differs from others in that it isnot based on normative expectations regarding prescribed roles or a cognitivedetermination of ones investments in an organization (Meyer and Allen, 1991). Instead, itis based on an individuals emotional bond with an organization. It is logical to assumethat it will be difficult for an individual to maintain affective attachment to his or herorganization unless there are a good P-O fit and a good P-J fit, and unless the PC is kept.
Person-organization fitP-O fit refers to the compatibility between a person and the organization, emphasizingthe extent to which a person and the organization share similar characteristics and/ormeet each others needs (Kristof, 1996). In employee selection research, P-O fit can beconceptualized as the match between an applicant and broader organizational attributes(Judge and Bretz, 1992). While researchers agree on the importance of P-O fit, there is anongoing debate in the literature regarding the operationalization of this construct. Muchprevious empirical research (e.g Cable and DeRue, 2002; Kristof, 1996; Posner, 1992;Vancouver et al., 1994) identified four different operationalizations of P-O fit. These are:
(1) congruence between individual and organizational values;
(2) goal congruence with organizational leaders or peers;
(3) the match between individual preferences or needs and organizational systemsand structures;
(4) the match between the characteristics of individual personality andorganizational climate sometimes described as organizational personality.
Both applicant job choice behavior and organizational hiring practices are majorantecedents of P-O fit (Cable and DeRue, 2002). Following entry to the organization,socialization practices contribute to establishing a reasonable P-O fit (Cable andParsons, 2001).
Person-job fitP-J fit refers to the match between the abilities of a person and the demands of a job orthe desires of a person and the attributes of a job (Kristof, 1996). P-J fit is the traditionalfoundation for employee selection (Werbel and Johnson, 2001). The primary concern inemployee selection has been with finding those applicants who have the skills andabilities necessary to do the job. The common operationalizations of P-J fit include theneeds-supplies perceptive and the demand-abilities perceptive (Kristof, 1996). Jobsupplies have been described as general characteristics of occupation, pay or other jobattributes (Werbel and Johnson, 2001). Job demands typically consist of the knowledge,skills and abilities (KSAs) required to perform at an acceptable level in the job. As withP-O fit, applicant self-selection and employee selection practices are themajor antecedents of P-J fit (Werbel and Johnson, 2001). Following entry to theorganization, a job design strategy may be another way to establish a practical P-J fit(Edwards, 1991).
The relationship between P-O fit and P-J fitConceptually, P-O fit and P-J fit are distinct constructs. There also is empirical evidencethat supports the discriminant validity of these two types of fit. For instance, researchhas reported low correlations between actual P-O fit and P-J fit and perceived P-O fitand P-J fit (Lauver and Kristof-Brown, 2001). Research using confirmatory factoranalysis has also shown that job applicants and recruiters are able to distinguishbetween P-O fit and P-J fit (Kristof-Brown et al., 2002; Saks and Ashforth, 1997).Furthermore, Kristof-Brown (2000) found that recruiters perceptions of P-O fit and P-Jfit differed in terms of their antecedents, and both offered unique prediction of therecommendation made by recruiters when hiring.
Psychological contractPC refers to an individuals belief in mutual obligations between that person andanother party such as an employer (Rousseau, 1995). Rousseaus concept of the PC issignificant because one of the more important perceptions of an employee is theirimplicit employment agreement (Anderson and Schalk, 1998; DelCampo, 2007;Grimmer and Oddy, 2007). The PC is the unwritten agreement that exists between theemployee and employer that contains a set of mutual expectations. The PC is based onsocial exchange theory (Maguire, 2002). This theory posits that social elements exist incontractual relationships; individuals voluntarily provide benefits to other parties,which oblige these parties to provide benefits in return (Wimbush et al., 1997). Thesebenefits are often unspecified and can be either extrinsic or intrinsic. Morrison andRobinson (1997) distinguished the PC from expectations. Expectations refer to whatone expects to receive from an organization: the PC, on the other hand, involves thebelief that an organization is obliged to provide certain benefits (Michael, 2001).
Overall, the fairness of the PC is paramount in a healthy work relationship(Rousseau, 2001). In order to maintain a proper working relationship, the contract mustremain intact otherwise an employee may become uncommitted, disloyal, file agrievance, seek alternative employment or demonstrate reduced effectiveness(Cavanaugh and Noe, 1999; Coyle-Shapiro and Kessler, 2000).
Work status (contingent vs permanent)Currently organizations face the dilemma of attempting, simultaneously, to increase theflexibility of the labor force and to increase its job involvement and commitment. Faced
with the dynamics of the external environment, involving constant and unpredictablechange, organizations are forced to adapt rapidly, both in terms of the number ofemployees and in terms of the skills of such employees (Moorman and Harland, 2002).This flexibility might be achieved by increasing the number of temporary workers(Chambel and Castanheira, 2006). Although, the majority of studies have beenconducted using traditional (i.e. full-time, permanent or regular) employees (e.g. Cableand DeRue, 2002; Kristof-Brown and Stevens, 2001), there has been a gradualmovement toward an increased use of contingent (i.e. part-time or temporary)workforce in organizations (Kidder, 1998). Despite the increased interest amongresearchers, the literature has not yet developed a rigorous definition of t...