The concept of person-environment fit is designed to help you find a job you like. In this lesson, you’ll learn about person-environment fit, the theory underlying it, and some ways the theory is modeled. A short quiz is provided after the lesson.
What Is a Person-Environment Fit?
Person-environment fit is the degree of fit, or match, between you and your work environment. The theory behind person-environment fit is that everyone has a work environment with which they are most compatible. The idea of PE is grounded in Kurt Lewin’s maxim, the behavior is a function of person and environment. Characteristics on the person side of the equation include interests, preferences, KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities), personality traits, values, and goals. The environmental factors may include such things as vocational norms, demands of the job, job characteristics, and organizational culture and values. The basic rationale of the theory is simple: if you work in an optimally compatible environment, all sorts of good things happen, such as improved work attitude, performance, and less stress.
Four Models of Fit
Person-environment fit research has focused on four different sub-categories of environmental fit. Let’s take a brief look at each of them:
Person-vocation fit is a fit between you and a specific vocation. This is the broadest form of PE and is defined by how closely an individual’s interests match the interests of others who are members of the vocation. For example, if you love science, learning about the human body, and helping people, nursing or medicine may be a good vocational fit.
Person-job fit is a fit between you and a particular job. It is a fit between your knowledge, skills, and abilities and the requirements of the job; or your needs and interests and the resources that can be provided to you by the job to fulfill them. For example, you may enjoy medicine but don’t have a good bedside manner and you don’t want to develop one. You do enjoy research and find that a position as a medical researcher would be good fit.
Person-organization fit is the fit between you and a particular organization. The reality of person-organization fit might explain the homogeneity of certain organizations. It can also be seen as selection criteria. Managers select individuals with values that they believe best match those of the organization. Let’s continue with our aspiring doctor example. You’ve looked as several medical research opportunities. You’re a bit of a do-gooder and aren’t interested in being a corporate cog. So, you look for some nonprofit research opportunities serving the developing world that happen to match your personal goals and values.
Person-group fit is the fit between you and your work group. Research indicates that person-group fit has a lot to do with demographic similarities as well as personality traits, goals, and similar knowledge skills and abilities. In our example, you landed a job with an American international organization that is researching some exotic tropical diseases. Your group consists of your fellow Americans, all with either MDs or PhDs and with similar drives, values, and goals as yours.
Person-environment fit is the degree of match between you and your work environment. The idea behind the concept is that if you work in an optimally compatible environment, you’ll have an improved work attitude and performance and less stress. Researchers have studied four general types of fits: person-vocation fit, person-job fit, person-organization fit and person-group fit.