Exploring the relative importance of normative and distinctive organizational preferences as predictors of work attitudes

Dustin Wood, Graham H. Lowman, P. D. Harms, Brent W. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Profile approaches to operationalizing person-organization (P-O) fit as the within-person correlation between an individual's ideal organization characteristics and their actual organization characteristics regularly find strong associations between P-O fit and an individual's work attitudes. However, profile correlation indices and other overall indices of P-O fit regularly confound normative and distinctive components of fit-that is: the extent to which the person's organization culture fits the culture that would be preferred by the average person, and the extent to which their organization fits an individual's idiosyncratic preferences. Here, we show how these two normative and distinctive P-O fits can be differentiated and related to an individual's attitudes about their organization experience. Utilizing data from 723 participants from four samples, we show that the degree to which an individual's description of their organizational culture corresponds to the normative ideal organizational culture may account for nearly all of the large associations regularly found between overall P-O fit indices and positive workplace attitudes. In contrast, the degree of fit between an individual's work environment and their distinctive or idiosyncratic preferences may play a relatively small role in predicting the positive workplace attitudes. We discuss broader implications for the design of organizational cultures and the more general understanding of the nature of P-O fit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-292
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Job satisfaction
  • Normativeness
  • Person- environment fit
  • Person- organization fit
  • Profile correlations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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