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SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

On-line version ISSN 2071-0763
Print version ISSN 0258-5200


WILLIAMSON, Mervywn K.  and  PERUMAL, Kressantha. Exploring the consequences of person-environment misfit in the workplace: A qualitative study. SA j. ind. Psychol. [online]. 2021, vol.47, n.1, pp.1-12. ISSN 2071-0763.

ORIENTATION: Although the literature on person-environment fit has burgeoned, misfit has been relatively overlooked. The 21st-century business environment has seen an increase in the number of employee misfits in the workplace, and this has proved a challenge to many organisations. It is uncertain how misfit impacts on employees and organisations experiencing this phenomenon. RESEARCH PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to broaden the current misfit research boundaries by exploring the consequences of misfit as experienced by individuals at work. MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY: There exist several under-researched areas in the misfit terrain. One such is the effect of misfit in the workplace. This study aimed to fill this void. RESEARCH APPROACH, DESIGN AND METHOD: A qualitative constructivist grounded theory approach was adopted. Using purposive and snowball sampling, 40 employee misfits participated in face-to-face, semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and data analysed by using four steps prescribed by grounded theory researchers. MAIN FINDINGS: Results highlight two themes that epitomise the consequences of misfit: (1) causing negative reactions in individual employees and (2) producing organisationally directed detrimental outcomes PRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: The study provides managers with a more profound understanding of the adverse consequences of misfit in the workplace and this will assist them in dealing more effectively with misfits. CONTRIBUTIONS/VALUE ADDED: This research contributes to the literature in two ways: (1) it contributes to the theory of misfit by adding to the conception that misfit is a qualitatively different construct to that of low fit or the absence of fit, and (2) our approach sheds light on the multifaceted and intricate construct of misfit and its consequences.

Keywords : misfit; person-environment misfit; person-environment fit; constructivist grounded theory; qualitative research.

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