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Project history

The Fit Project is an exploration of person–organisation fit in real business situations. It began as a study of the impact of high levels of person–organisation fit five years ago, but it has expanded its remit to consider the nature of fit itself.


The Fit Project began as a meeting of interests between Jon Billsberry and Philip Marsh at the Open University. Jon was actively pursuing research into person–organisation fit with his doctoral studies (he tested the A and S propositions of the ASA framework; see www.jonbillsberry.co.uk for more details) and Philip was interested in finding out more about the antecedents and consequences of long tenure at the Open University. He was also interested in getting beneath the statistical data in the regular staff surveys. As a result, the Fit Project began as an empirical study of the impact of high levels of person–organisation fit in organisational settings. Reflecting the dual research and managerial nature of the study, matched funding for the first stage of the project came from the business school and the HR division.

Stage one

In the first stage of the project, the project’s first Research Fellow, Dr. John Moss-Jones, conducted sixty in-depth interviews using the techniques of storytelling and cognitive mapping to form an understanding of employees’ sense of fit. This qualitative data revealed a complex web of factors influencing people’s perceptions of fit that has been portrayed as a taxonomy in our papers (see Publications section). In addition, the analysis of the data suggested that positive levels of fit were largely tacitly held whereas people who rated themselves as a misfit were very conscious of their sense of fit and the misfit had negative effects on their behaviour.

Stage two

In the second stage of the project we are developing a questionnaire, based on our taxonomy, to capture employees' sense of fit across a broad spectrum of fits. This questionnaire will have both academic rigour and be practical in organisational situations. Currently we are testing our new items with a large set of respondents through StudyResponse. We hope to have initial results in the new year. If you wish to find out more about this work, please contact thest recruited the project's  Research Fellow, Nathalie van Meurs at the Open University.

Stage three

We have just been awarded some seedcorn funding to investigate the potential for developing a selection test that will assess applicants' fit. If you want to read more about the challenges of assessing applicants for their fit, Jon has just published an article on the topic in the most recent edition of People and Organisations at Work.

Current team

The current team consists of:

Jon Billsberry, senior lecturer in organisational behaviour at the Open University

Philip Marsh, Open University Director of Human Resources, just retired (but active on the team)

Julian Edwards, research fellow at the Open University

Steph Broadribb, head of HR development at the Open University

Ros Searle, senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University

Deborah Price, lecturer in management at the Open University

Dannie Talbot, PhD student at the Open University

Patrick Nelson, PhD student at the Open University

Jitse van Ameijde, PhD student at the Open University

Ross Davidson, PhD student at the Open University

Véronique Ambrosini, professor of strategic management at Cardiff University

Nathalie van Meurs, senior lecturer at Middlesex University

David Coldwell, visiting professor at the Open University and professor of management at KwaZulu University, South Africa

Denise Skinner, professor of human resource management at Coventry University