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This page will contain pen pictures (and hopefully real pictures) of the members of the Fit Project.

Jon Billsberry (www.jonbillsberry.co.ukj.billsberry@coventry.ac.ukj.billsberry@coventry.ac.uk)

My interest in fit began before I moved into academia. I was an executive search consultant (more commonly known as a 'headhunter'). I realised that as a headhunter I assessed applicants' knowledge and skills through an assessment of their achievements and from the recommendations of experts. My role as headhunter was to work out whether or not the potential employee would be able to reproduce their performance in the new organisational setting. In effect, the bulk of my job was assessing person–organisation fit. I now realise how subjectively and haphazardly I performed this assessment of fit. Not surprisingly I decided to focus on person–organisation fit in recruitment and selection settings in my Ph.D. studies. I studied the attraction and selection propositions of Ben Schneider's ASA theory. Now that my doctoral studies are completed I am expanding my interest in fit. I am particularly interested in whether 'fit' (and/or 'misfit') are 'real' psychological constructs that influence people's behaviour at work. I am also interested in the influence of high levels of person–organisation fit on organisational performance. And I am interested in how 'fit' can be measured in both academic and managerial settings. Ultimately, I hope to find answers to the two 'big' fit questions: Should selectors 'select for fit'? If they should, how can they do it effectively and fairly?

Philip Marsh (philip.marsh@btinternet.com)

My early experience in University life involved me in research into leadership and motivation of midwifery staff. One outcome of that research was to highlight the influence of what I would now describe as the sense of fit experienced by midwives and their managers with the organisation, its leadership and the relationship of this to other measures of staff performance including retention, sickness absence and clinical indicators. Later as an HR practitioner I became aware of the limitation which exists between the various theoretical perspectives on people at work, and what seems to be experienced in practice. Increasingly, I have found that at least subjectively a person’s fit with their job, their role, their organisation and their managers is a key influence upon work behaviour, attitude and performance, as well as many behaviours outside of work. The project so far has provided many useful insights into the nature of fit. I can see its value operationally in job design, selection, performance management and development, but more particularly it has a strategic role in the areas of change, managing organisational knowledge and learning. Exploration of these issues further, and the development of ways of measuring the various dimensions of fit, carries the potential to get below the surface of other data available on employee morale, motivation, commitment and job satisfaction, particularly, that from conventional survey techniques.

Julian Edwards (julian.edwards@open.ac.uk)

My research background is based in organisational psychology. Work-related stress, work performance, work/life balance and quality of working life are my main areas of interest. My PhD research primarily examined the causal relationship between occupational stress and psychological well-being across both work and non-work contexts. I have a particular interest in questionnaire design and survey methodology. Papers published in peer review journals have focused on scale development and psychometric analysis. I also have a keen interest in longitudinal research and analysis using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) statistical techniques. I have taught research methods over many years at both undergraduate and post-graduate level and supervised students with their research dissertation projects. I currently work as an Associate Lecturer at the OU teaching survey methods within the Faculty of Social Sciences. My main contribution to the Fit Project is to design a personnel selection instrument that measures prospective employees’ sense of fit with organisations. My aim is to design, develop and roll-out a reliable and valid quantitative questionnaire. This questionnaire will have both academic rigour and be practical in organisational situations. Presenting at conferences and publishing research papers will hopefully help develop and promote the Fit Project. I’m looking forward to managing large scale surveys and conducting extensive psychometric analysis in the near future in an attempt to further explore and expand the fit concept.

Véronique Ambrosini (ambrosiniv@cardiff.ac.uk)

I teach strategic management and my research is rooted within the strategy literature. My focus of my research is firm performance: How do firms outperform their competitors? It was when exploring this question that I became interested in organisational tacit knowledge and in causal mapping as a way of eliciting such knowledge. The more I read about tacit knowledge – and the more Jon and I discussed the notion of P-O fit – the more we understood that tacit knowledge and fit shared many characteristics and that causal mapping, which I had used in my strategy research, could be used to research fit. My interest in fit is not just about how to capture fit. I also believe that fit is strategically relevant. Organisational tacit knowledge is difficult to transfer, but one way of doing so is through personal relationships and time, through an apprentice-like relationship, or through socialisation. One could suggest that when organisational members ‘fit’, organisational tacit knowledge is more likely to be transferred within the organisation than if not. Indeed it has been argued that people’s sharing of different values is a barrier to knowledge transfer, that socialisation requires that individuals empathise enough to accept each others beliefs, and that when people value fit there is low staff turnover. As a consequence when people fit, there is likely to be more time for communication, interaction, successful socialisation and arguably then transfer of organisational tacit knowledge. Researching fit and the link between fit and tacit knowledge, and in particular how organisational fit can facilitate the transfer of tacit knowledge, is an avenue for research I want to explore in more depth.

Deborah Price (d.price@open.ac.uk)

My interest in ‘fit’ emerged in the wake of my doctoral thesis. The thesis undertook a bi-paradigmatic analysis of organisational culture. It concluded that organisational culture can be conceptualised as a rubric. A set of rules, but not the set of rules which frame the ways in which people make sense of their relationship with the organisation. In developing this theme I have engaged with the literature on organisational identity. Accordingly, I am currently developing my research focus on person-organisation fit in two directions. First, a consideration of organisational identity and how this may provide a comparator against which people judge their fit within an organisation. Within this I am engaging with the literature on social identity and personal identity to try to identify the impact person-organisation fit has on a person’s sense of social self and individual self. Second, I am looking at the mechanisms of fit. In particular I am interested in the ways in which people use social construction to produce person-organisation fit in situations where fit is desirable but compromised. I have called this mechanism 'pathogenic fit’, i.e. the use of deviant mechanisms as a means of creating a ‘genuine’ perception of fit. Where people are unable to re-negotiate their relationship with the organisation, such a perception allows them to re-construct that relationship, producing one which is to them, less disadvantageous.

Nathalie van Meurs (n.van-meurs@mdx.ac.uk)

I was particularly interested in joining the team working on the Fit Project as I am both academically trained in cultural values research and questionnaire design and analysis and I also worked in recruitment for multinationals in the UK and the USA. I am passionate about organisational research that can be applied to the real world, whilst furthering our understanding of behavioural processes. Specific highlights of my research are the combined focus on organisational and cross-cultural values within a multinational corporation, using qualitative and quantitative research methods. I developed and piloted several scales measuring, for example, cultural values, conflict, and communication and recently presented fit related findings at the IACCP conference (see conferences section). My academic experience is fit related as I taught organisational, social, and Cross-cultural psychology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and research methods (questionnaire design) at undergraduate level. At the same time, I like to be involved in more practical issues; I organised the first global e-conference Building Bridges with guest speakers from the UN and business and academic community, bringing together academic and practical experts in the area of organisational conflict and communication for www.dialogin.com. They recently did another e-conference on HR management, so check them out. To me the concept of fit is relatively new as a theoretical construct, although I have worked in recruitment and dealt with the issue of person-organisation fit on a daily basis. It occurs to me that being happy in the work place is a multi-faceted matter: communication with colleagues and manager, the mission and values of the organisation, the sense of belonging (ingroup vs. outgroup and self esteem), among others, and I am excited about exploring such observations by doing research with an excellent team.

Dannie Talbot (d.talbot@open.ac.uk)

I worked for several years as a university placement manager, firstly, finding one-year industrial placements for Business Studies students and secondly, placing university staff members in short and long term placements to broaden their experience and enhance their skills. Although I was assessing individuals’ fit on a daily basis, I was blissfully unaware of the academic research interest in this area until I saw a presentation by Jon outlining his person-organisation fit research. Jon’s presentation prompted me to consider whether fitting in is ‘good’ for individuals and organisations or whether in fact misfits provide ‘the grit in the oyster’. Over a coffee with Jon, I decided to apply for a place on the OU’s PhD programme. For the MSc in research methods, I completed a small scale study to start to identify the antecedents of misfit. The results of this study suggested that misfit and fit may be categorical states rather than two ends of a continuum: i.e. perhaps misfit is not the opposite to fit, as has been widely assumed. For the PhD, I have decided to again focus on misfit, an area which has to date received little research attention. I am specifically asking whether misfits leave organisations (as hypothesised by Schneider’s (1987) ASA theory) and whether there are trigger events which cause people to perceive themselves as misfits. By addressing these questions, I hope to provide some new insights to augment the fit literature but which will also have practical application.

Patrick Nelson (p.nelson@open.ac.uk)

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Ross Davidson (r.a.g.davidson@open.ac.uk)

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Steve Godrich (s.g.godrich@open.ac.uk)

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Chris Carter (c.j.p.carter@open.ac.uk)

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