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 the contingentwork (McLean Parks et al., 1998). This may be attributed to the plethora of types ofcontingent work categories and an almost infinite number of variations or gradationswithin each category (Kidder, 1998). Contingent work can be defined as any job inwhich an individual does not have a detailed, full-time contract similar to long-termemployment (McLean Parks et al., 1998). In contrast with permanent employment,four characteristics distinguish contingent employment: job insecurity, irregular worktime, lack of access to benefits and lack of attachment to the company (Chambeland Castanheira, 2006). The growth in contingent employment or workforceexternalization is largely driven by multiple employer objectives including labor costreduction, increased scheduling flexibility and diminished responsibility for directmanagement of employees (McLean Parks et al., 1998).
The literature on organizational behavior has pointed to the need to understand theeffects of these temporary contracts on the attitudes and behaviors of individuals atwork. In accordance with social exchange theory and reciprocity norms, it can beposited that these temporary workers, because they receive fewer inducements fromorganizations (they are not considered for promotion and cannot expect long-termemployment), will make a smaller contribution to the organization (Chambel andCastanheira, 2006). However, research results have been inconclusive and inconsistent.Pearce (1993) did not find any significant differences in the co-operativeness oraffective commitment of contingent and regular engineers and technicians in anaerospace firm. Kidder (1998) observed that temporary nurses perform fewerorganizational citizenship behaviors, but when they perceive they have a morerelational contract, they are more likely to perform these behaviors.
The current studyRelatively little research on P-J fit, P-O fit, the PC and organizational affectivecommitment (OAC) has been conducted in a non-western context (although there havebeen a few notable exceptions, e.g. Turban et al., 2001), we know little about whetherfindings in the Western context are also applicable to other contexts such as the Gulfregion. Hofstede (1984) argued that the Middle Eastern culture of which the UAE ispart, has different characteristics that affect business activities at both the individuallevel and the organizational level. In contrast with Western culture, the UAE culture ishigh in power distance, high in uncertainty avoidance, collectivistic andmasculine.
The present study will present the results of an exploratory study that investigatedthe P-J fit, P-O fit, the PC and the OAC of the work force in different business cultures.The research has three purposes:
(1) The first is to evaluate the types of fit found in the workforce in the researchcontext, using the classical P-J fit and P-O fit dimensions. These types of fit will
be related to the measures of OAC. It is predicted that P-J fit and P-O fit will bepositively correlated with OAC.
(2) The second purpose is to investigate the effect of work status. The literaturereview has suggested that an contingent worker status is negatively related toOAC, while permanent worker status is positively related to OAC.
(3) The third purpose is to assess the possible mediating effect of the PC on therelationships between P-J fit, P-O fit and OAC. Although, there is no consensusin the previous research on these relationships, it is predicted that having a fairPC will have an important mediating effect on relationships between P-J fit, P-Ofit and OAC.
The research model: the mediating effect of PCCombining all of the above variables, the author proposes to test a model (see Figure 1)based on the values of the PC. This model anticipates that P-O fit and P-J fit will have apositive influence on employee OAC mediated by the employees PC values. This maypartially explain why the employee level of OAC will be much higher among those whoperceive that their PC has been honored than among those employees who perceivethat their PC has been violated.
MethodParticipants and data collectionParticipants were from 16 large companies in the UAE, which were selected from fourdifferent industries, including investment and banking (eight companies), insurance(three companies), real estate and construction (three companies) and retailing (twocompanies). Data were collected by self-administrating questionnaires in two roundswhere 1,400 subjects were targeted. In the first round, the response rate was 50 percent, leading to a sample of 700 participants. However, after conducting follow-upcontacts, the response rate rose to 75 per cent, leading to total sample of 1,050. Afterfiltering the collected questionnaires, 960 were found suitable for data analysis,representing 68.5 per cent of the total targeted number of questionnaires. 57.3 per centwere at managerial levels and 42.7 per cent were non-managerial staff members.
Figure 1.Diagram of predictor,mediator and criterionrelationships
For staff members, 54.6 per cent were males with an average age between 20 to 30 yearsold. Fifty five per cent of the managers were females and the average age was between20 to 30 years old. In order to minimize the risk of correlation inflation due to commonsource bias (Podsakoff et al., 2003), the same questionnaire was completed by thosewho were contingent worker (43.8 per cent of the total sample size) and those who wereworking permanently (56.3 per cent of the total sample size).
MeasuresBelow is a brief description of the scales that were used in this study.
P-O fit and P-J fit. The literature suggested that recruiters often use applicantsKSAs to assess P-J fit, while recruiters often use applicants values, goals andpersonality traits to assess P-O fit (Kristof-Brown, 2000). In the light of this, six itemswere selected to measure P-O fit and six to measure P-J fit. The reliability of thesemeasures was found to be 0.79 in terms of the level. For each measure, respondentswere asked to select from a five-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (stronglydisagree) to 5 (strongly agree). High scores indicated perceptions of good P-O fit andP-J fit. PC was evaluated using a modification of a five-item scale from Robinson andRousseau (1994). Respondents evaluated each scale item on a five-point Likert-typescale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Robinson and Rousseau(1994) obtained an coefficient of 0.78 for their measure. High scores demonstrateperceptions of a fair PC, while low scores represent perceptions of a violated PC. OACwas measured using an eight-item scale developed by Allen and Meyer (1990). Thiswas answered on a five-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5(strongly agree). Allen and Meyer found the reliability of this scale to be 0.86. Workstatus was included in the current study as a control variable. Work status was codedas two categories (1 contingent worker and 2 permanent worker).
Statistical analysisTo study the relationships between P-O fit, P-J fit, PC and OAC, Pearsons correlationanalysis was adopted. Subsequently the variables were entered into the hierarchicalregression equation to test the research hypotheses and to determine the mediationeffect of PC. Regression is the most common method used to test for mediation (see, forexample, Baron and Kenny, 1986; Frazier et al., 2004).
ResultsDifferent types of fit (P-J fit or P-O fit)The results show that the participants were more likely to have expectations about P-Jfit in relation to their focal employment rather than expectations about P-O fit, sinceparticipants mean score of P-J fit was 3.51 (SD 0.90) as compared with P-O fit with amean score of 3.40 (SD 0.78). This difference was found to be significant using apaired-samples T-test (t (959) 4.029, p < 0.001). This probably leads the participantswho were better fitted to their jobs to be more committed than those who fitted theirorganizations well. This difference was found to be significant using a paired-samplesT-test between P-J fit and OAC (t (959) 10.12, p < 0.001), and between P-O fit andOAC (t (959) 7.41, p < 0.001). Although these results give some early valuableindications for the reader, the results will be more fully explained in the followingsections using a variety of statistical techniques.
The interrelation among the research variablesThe P-J fit, P-O fit and PC scores were then correlated with scores for OAC (Table I).
P-J fit scores were positively correlated with P-O fit scores (r 0.478, p < 0.01).Hence, better fit between a person and a job was associated with a better fit betweenthat person and the organization itself. In addition, the scores of P-J fit were found to bestrongly and positively correlated with PC (r 0.421, p < 0.01), and moderatelycorrelated with OAC (r 0.309, p < 0.01). Thus, a higher degree of fit between theperson and the job was associated with higher perceptions of getting a fair PC, andhigher levels of affective commitment to the organization.
P-O fit scores were also found to be strongly and positively correlated with PC(r 0.517, p < 0.01) and with OAC (r 0.408, p < 0.01). Therefore, a higher level of fitbetween the person and the organization was associated with higher perceptions ofhaving a fair PC, and higher levels of affective commitment to his/her organization.
In addition, PC was strongly and positively correlated with OAC (r 0.525,p < 0.01). This means that having a fair PC was associated with higher levels of OAC.
The PC as a mediator between P-J fit, P-O fit and OAC: controlled by work statusIn order to determine whether the impact of P-J fit and P-O fit on OAC was mediated bythe PC, and whether this mediation relationship was controlled by work status, theanalysis was conducted in two parts: study 1 (permanent worker) and study 2(Contingent Worker). For each analysis two series of regression analysis wereperformed. In both series of analysis, the predictor variables were the P-J fit and P-O fitmeasures, with OAC being the criterion variable. In each study, the mediating effect ofthe PC was assessed to determine whether these scores could be used to accountstatistically for the relationship between the predictor and the criterion variables(Baron and Kenny, 1986). The process of determining mediation follows the modeldisplayed in Figure 1, and the results will be explained for each regression analysisin turn.
A fairly strong positive correlation that was seen between the level of P-J fit and P-Ofit and PC (r 0.421 and r 0.517, respectively). This raised the issue ofmulticolinearity for the regression analyses. However, the correlation was not greaterthan the rule of thumb of r 0.700 suggested by Tabachnick and Fidell (1983), andthus was considered acceptable.
The mediation effect of PC within study 1 (permanent workers)In the first series of analyses, the possible mediating effect of PC (the mediator) on therelationship between P-J fit, and P-O fit (the predictors) and OAC (the criterion) wasassessed. Four steps of regression analysis were performed to assess this mediationeffect (see Table II). The first step in the process of determining mediation is to
Table I.Means, standarddeviations andintercorrelation amongvariables
Variables M SD 1 2 3 4
1. P-J fit 3.5059 0.90030 (0.73)2. P-O fit 3.3931 0.78769 0.478* (0.69)3. PC 3.4483 0.68312 0.421* 0.517* (0.73)4. OAC 3.2128 0.54734 0.309* 0.408* 0.525* (0.73)
Notes: n 960, Scale reliabilities are reported on the diagonal. *p < 0.01, **p < 0.05
demonstrate a significant relationship between the predictor and criterion (Path A).This was found to be the case. P-J fit and P-O fit were significant predictors of OAC(F (0.74) 2.722, p < 0.05 and F (0.263) 9.012, p < 0.01, respectively). This producedan adjusted R2 value of 0.222 indicating that 22.2 per cent of the variance in OAC scoreswas attributable to the fit between a person and a job together with the fit between aperson and an organization. This also produced a weight of 2.063 (t 20.854,p < 0.01) indicating a positive relationship between P-J fit, P-O fit and OAC.
The second step is to demonstrate a relationship between the predictors and thepurported mediator (Path B). This was also found; P-J fit and P-O fit were significantpredictors of PC (F (0.171) 5.343, p < 0.01 and F (0.344) 10.031, p < 0.01,respectively). In this instance, the adjusted R2 was 0.317 indicating that 31.7 per cent ofthe variance in having a fair PC could be accounted for by the fit between a person anda job together with the fit between a person and an organization. The weight of 1.698was also significant (t 14.595, p < 0.01) and revealed a positive relationship.
The third step is to demonstrate that the mediator is related to the criterion (Path C).This was also demonstrated; PC significantly predicted OAC (F (0.455) 16.232,p < 0.01). The adjusted R2 was 0.330 showing that 33.0 per cent of variation in OACcould be accounted for by having a fair PC. The weight of 1.638 was also significant(t 16.520, p < 0.01) and revealed a positive relationship.
The final step in the process of demonstrating mediation is to show that when theeffect of the presumed mediator is controlled for, the effect of the predictors isminimized or becomes insignificant altogether (Path A1). This was assessed usinghierarchical multiple regression in which P-J fit and P-O fit were added to the equationafter PC (as evaluated by Path C) to determine whether each added significantly to theamount of variance accounted for in OAC. In this case, P-O fit added significantly to theequation (F-change (103.267) 4.779, p < 0.01), but P-J fit was not a predictor of OACsince it was not statistically significant (F-change (103.267) 0.490, p > 0.05). These
Table II.Study 1: the mediationeffect of PC controlled
by the work status(permanent, full-time
worker) (n 540)
Block 1 regression Block 2 regression Block 3 regression Block 4 regression
Dependentvariable:OrgaComm OAC PC OAC OACPredictors: Constant 2.063 Constant 1.698 Constant 1.638 Constant 1.455P-J fit P-J fit 0.074
(2.722)*P-J fit 0.171
(5.343)**P-J fit 0.012
(0.490)P-O fit P-O fit 0.263
(9.012)**P-O fit 0.344
(10.031)**P-O fit 0.136
(4.779)**PC PC 0.455
(11.005)**N 540 539 538 537F statistic 76.791 124.103 263.480 103.267RR2 0.219 0.314 0.328 0.364D-W test 1.500a 1.722b 1.595c 1.580a
Notes: Regression coefficients (partial adjustment model) of P-J fit and P-O fit and PC. Thedependent variable is OAC. The t-statistics are shown in brackets. The regression equation is freefrom multicollinearity (VIF < 5). *, **, ***significant at the level 5, 1 and 10 per centrespectively; aD-W test significant at 2 per cent; bD-W test significant at 10 per cent; cD-W testsignificant at 5 per cent
results indicate that PC did not completely mediate the effect of the predictor variableson OAC. The R2 change was only 0.0368, indicating that the amount of additionalvariation accounted for was a minimal 3.68 per cent. Further, the weight for P-J fitand P-O fit, when each was added after the PC, dropped from its initial level of 1.638to1.455; this second weight was still significant (t 13.910, p < 0.01) butdemonstrates that the effect of the predictor was reduced when the mediator wasintroduced (that is, the relationship described in Path A1 was weaker than that in PathA). Thus, PC satisfied the requirements of being a partial mediator in the relationshipbetween the level of perceived P-J fit, P-O fit and OAC.
The mediation effect of PC within study 2 (contingent workers)In the second series of analyses, the same analysis was performed with P-J fit and P-Ofit as the predictors and OAC as the criterion and PC as the mediator (see Table III). Thesame four steps of regression analysis were performed to assess this mediation effect.The first step in the process of determining mediation is to demonstrate a significantrelationship between the predictor and criterion (Path A). This was found to be thecase. P-J fit, and P-O fit were significant predictors of OAC (F (0.104) 3.585, p < 0.01and F (0.219) 6.040, p < 0.01, respectively). This produced an adjusted R2 value of0.165 indicating that 16.5 per cent of the variance in OAC scores was attributable to thefit between a person and a job together with the fit between a person and anorganization. This also produced a weight of 2.093 (t 17.070, p < 0.01) indicating apositive relationship between P-J fit, P-O fit and OAC. The second step is todemonstrate a relationship between the predictors and the purported mediator (Path B)This was also found; P-J fit and P-O fit were significant predictors of PC (F(0.169) 5.030, p < 0.01 and F (0.380) 9.043, p < 0.01, respectively). In thisinstance, the adjusted R2 was 0.300 indicating that 30.0 per cent of the variance inhaving a fair PC could be accounted for by the fit between a person and a job together
Table III.Study 2: the mediationeffect of PC controlledby the work status(contingent or part-timeworkers) (n 420)
Block 1 regression Block 2 regression Block 3 regression Block 4 regression
Dependentvariable:OrgaComm OAC PC OAC OACPredictors: Constant 2.093 Constant 1.544 Constant 1.796 Constant 1.581P-J fit P-J fit 0.104
(3.585)*P-J fit 0.169
(5.030)*P-J fit 0.039
(1.417)P-O fit P-O fit 0.219
(6.040)*P-O fit 0.380
(9.043)*P-O fit 0.103
(2.812)**Psy. contract PC 0.409
(8.454)*N 418 420 417 417F statistic 42.101 90.762 153.807 57.126RR2 0.165 0.300 0.269 0.288D-W test 1.500a 1.627b 1.578b 1.548a
Notes: Regression coefficients (partial adjustment model) of P-J fit and P-O fit and PC. Thedependent variable is OAC. The t-statistics are shown in brackets. The regression equation is freefrom multicollinearity (VIF < 5). *, **, ***significant at the level 1, 5 and 10 per centrespectively; aD-W test significant at 2 per cent; bD-W test significant at 5 per cent; cD-W testsignificant at 10 per cent
with the fit between a person and an organization. The weight of 1.544 was alsosignificant (t 10.907, p < 0.01) and revealed a positive relationship.
The third step is to demonstrate that the mediator is related to the criterion (Path C).This was also demonstrated; the PC significantly predicted OAC (F (0.409) 12.402,p < 0.01). The adjusted R2 was 0.269 showing that 26.9 per cent of the variation in OACcould be accounted for by having a fair PC. The weight of 1.796 was also significant(t 15.628, p < 0.01) and revealed a positive relationship.
The final step in the process of demonstrating mediation is to show that when theeffect of the presumed mediator is controlled for, the effect of the predictors isminimized or becomes insignificant altogether (Path A1). This was assessed usinghierarchical multiple regression in which P-J fit and P-O fit were added to the equationafter PC (as indicated by Path C) to determine whether each added significantly to theamount of variance accounted for in OAC. In this case, P-O fit did add significantly tothe equation (F-change (57.126) 2.812, p < 0.05), but P-J fit was not a predictor ofOAC since it was not statistically significant (F-change (57.126) 1.417, p > 0.05).These results indicate that PC did not completely mediate the effect on OAC. The R 2
change was only 0.0293, indicating that the amount of additional variation accountedfor was a minimal 2.93 per cent. Further, the weight for P-J fit and P-O fit, whenadded after PC, dropped from its initial level of 1.796 to 1.581. This second weightwas still significant (t 12.372, p < 0.01) but demonstrates that the effect of thepredictor was reduced when the mediator was introduced (that is, the relationshipdescribed in Path A1 was weaker than that in Path A). Thus, PC satisfied therequirements of being a partial mediator in the relationship between the level ofperceived P-J fit, P-O fit and OAC.
DiscussionThe aim of the current study was to extend the field of investigation of P-J fit, P-O fitand PC within a non-western context (UAE) by examining employees at different UAEbusinesses. This was achieved, since the results of the current study showed that theWestern, American theories could be applied in the Middle East.
The current study supported the previous empirical research of Wilk and Sackett(1996) and Werbel and Johnson (2001). It showed that when P-J fit is assessed as thematch between what an employee wants and receives from performing job, it iscorrelated with OC. In addition, the present study added to the previous empiricalevidence by showing that a high level of P-O fit is related to OC (Bretz and Judge, 1994;Chatman, 1991). However, it is inconsistent with other empirical results that suggestedthat there may be negative organizational outcomes from high levels of P-O fit (Powell,1998; Walsh, 1987). Also, there was a significant positive correlation between theperceived fulfillment of the PC and commitment. This is consistent with previousresearch showing that employees with PCs that have been honored have higher levelsof commitment, while failure to meet perceived obligations results in lowercommitment (Rousseau and McLean Parks, 1993; Robinson and Rousseau 1994;Robinson 1996; Cavanaugh and Noe, 1999; Coyle-Shapiro and Kessler, 2000; Kickul,2001). This suggests that it is essential that the entry of a new employee into theorganization is managed successfully (on this point see Rousseau and Greller 1994;Buckley et al., 1997; Rowley and Bensonm, 2000).
Furthermore, the present study contributes to the literature by identifying the effectof work status on P-O fit, P-J fit, PC and OAC. In particular, there is almost no researchthat has explicitly applied the concepts of P-O fit and P-J fit to understand the
difference between permanent and contingent work status. Empirical findings on thesetopics can best be described as inconsistent and quiet mixed.
The current study confirmed the results of many independent studies (e.g.Jackofsky and Peters, 1987; Krausz et al., 1995; Lee and Johnson, 1991; McLean Parkset al., 1998; Pearce, 1993; McGinnis and Morrow, 1990; Van Dyne and Ang, 1998) thatfound that contingent workers do not differ from permanent worker in terms of theirattitudinal and behavioral measures. It has found that work status was unrelated tofacets of job satisfaction, work commitment and perceptions of organizational climate,since there were only slight differences between Table II (permanent workers) andTable III (contingent workers). However, the present study contradicted the results ofStamper and Van Dyne (2001), who argued that contingent workers exhibited lowerlevels of OCs than permanent workers.
In addition, a high level of P-J fit is essential in order for organizations to utilizecontingent employees (Lee and Johnson 1991; Matusik, 1998). On the other hand, P-O fitappears to be less important in selecting contingent employees, because theemployment relationship is relatively short-term and thus contingent employees maynot be expected to be committed over the long term or exhibit a significant amount ofextra-role behavior (Davis-Blake and Uzzi, 1993; Krausz et al., 1995). Thus, in thesecontexts, P-O fit may not be as important as P-J fit in selecting contingent workers. Theresults of the current study were not in agreement with these previous empiricalstudies, since Tables II and III show that P-J fit is not a predicator of the OAC for eithercontingent or permanent workers, as it was not statistically significant. However, thecurrent study demonstrates that P-O fit is a valid predicator of OAC within the groupsof contingent and permanent work status, since it was statistically significant. Thisfinding is congruent with whose of researchers such as Kristof-Brown, (2000) and Saksand Ashforth, (1997) who argue that it appears that a fair PC and the concept of apermanent workforce are more relevant to P-O fit than P-J fit, while honoring thePC and the concept of contingent workforce are more relevant to P-J fit than P-O fit(McDonald and Maim, 2000). Combining the above results for P-O fit, P-J fit, PC andOAC indicates that work status partially moderated these relationships. That is, noeffect of work status on the relative weights of P-O fit, P-J fit, PC or OAC wasobserved. Since the present study was conducted in the UAE; some findings may havebeen affected by national culture (Thomas et al., 2003). Specifically, this may beattributed to the effect of the collectivistic nature of the UAE (Hofstede,1984). Collectivists emphasize fitting in with ones group (Hofstede, 1984), andconsequently P-O fit, rather than P-J fit, may be a more influential predictor for OAC(Silverthorne, 2004).
Arguably the most interesting finding in the current research concerned themediating effects of PC on the relationship between P-O fit, P-J fit and OAC. It waspredicted that the effect of P-O fit and P-J fit would be influenced by the PC. This wassupported. Tables II and III showed that PC was found to be correlated with P-O fit andP-J fit. Hence, employees fit to their job and to the organization seemed to be affected bya failure, or otherwise, of an employer to fulfill expectations. However, OAC wouldseem to be predicated upon P-O fit rather than P-J fit. (On this point see VanVianen,2000). In other words, this interpretation is supported by the finding that positiveperceptions of the PC mediated the effect of P-O fit on OAC, but did not fully mediatethe effect of P-J fit on OAC. This indicates that PC acts as a mechanism through whichthe perception of P-O fit affects the outcomes of OAC. This is a finding which has been
hinted at (e.g. Cavanaugh and Noe, 1999) but not reported in previous research on thePC and thus represents a unique contribution to the field.
Research implicationsThe implications of the preceding findings are clear. There are implications formanagers, who should understand that different components of HRM practices (e.g.staffing, rewarding and developing) play different roles in promoting various types ofP-O fit and P-J fit (Guest and Hoque, 1994). Some practices may be designed exclusivelyto promote a particular P-O fit, and other practices may be designed to promote P-J fit(Huo et al., 2002). In addition, managers should take into account the institutional andcultural factors that influence the promotion of these kinds of fit. Multi nationalenterprises and diverse firms, like those operating in the UAE, may need to understandthese factors (Atkinson, 2002; Robinson, 2003). Current findings strongly suggest thatthose individuals who strive for P-J fit and P-O fit, and who have a positive perceptionof the PC in the pre-entry phase, are more likely to continue to experience these fitsafter they enter the organization. This post-entry fit, in turn affects their subsequentwork attitudes and behaviors. Organizations should continue to look at theirsocialization tactics to enhance OC among their employees.
Research limitation and future researchA limitation of this study was the fact that all of the data were collected using self-report questionnaires. In addition, many of the measures used in the study were Likertscales. This threat to validity is known as mono-method bias. The problem withcollecting much of the data using the same method and/or type of scale is that thefindings can then be attributed to individuals tendencies to respond to similar types ofmeasures in similar ways. While this bias might have been a threat, it is unlikely.Further research in this area needs to be conducted to examine P-J fit, P-O fit, PC andOAC in other contexts, taking into account the effect of different industries anddemographics. In particular, larger samples from different professions and occupationsmight provide a basis for more robust results and findings that help managers tomanage the level of P-J fit, P-O fit and the level of congruence between employees andemployers perceptions. In addition, further debate is needed regarding the strategicrole HRM can play in managing the PC in the UAE. This has, generally speaking,received little attention. More research about the types of PCs; rational andtransactional, and their effect on OAC is needed.
ConclusionThis study provides an initial attempt to examine the effect of P-O job fitting andOAC in a cross-culture context, namely the UAE. The research findings show thatorganizations may improve organizational outcomes by ensuring high levels of P-O fitand P-J fit. In addition, the results show that the decision to hire temporary workersmay not necessarily have negative effects, provided that these workers develop a fairPC. These findings have implications for organizational selection procedures, as well asfor individuals interested in planning their own careers.
1. Power distance: The extent to which a society accepts that power in institutions andorganizations is distributed unequally.
2. Uncertainty avoidance: The extent to which a society feels threatened by uncertain andambiguous situations and tries to avoid them.
3. Collectivistic: A tight social framework in which people expect others in groups ofwhich they are a part to look after them and protect them.
4. Masculinity: The extent to which the society values work roles of achievement, powerand control, and where assertiveness and materialism are also valued.
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Corresponding authorMohamed H. Behery can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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