Ability Job Fit

What is more likely to lead to high work performance a fit between ability-job or between personality-organisation?


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The aim of this assignment is to construct an argument to support the proposition, that Performance-Organization fit is more important over Ability-Job fit, for higher job performance.

Scope and Definitions

The scope of the assessment covers only the area of high work performance related to ability-job and personality-organization, using proven research and theoretical information from a wide range of articles and journals that are relatively current and authentic.

Accordingly, both theory and empirical research, drawn from thorough literature review are used to analyse, substantiate and conclude Personality-Organization shall to lead to higher work performance

In this paper, Work performance is broadly viewed as Contextual performance behaviour, counter productive work behaviour, inter personal facilitation and task performance.

Background Information

Globalization and its effects have led organizations into unchartered territories. As institutions valiantly try to thrive in an ever demanding atmosphere, the identification of critical resources is paramount to any organization. The single most important factor that is significant to any organization is its human capital. The success or failure of an organization can be largely attributed to its human resources. Thus making it directly related to their work performance.

The senior executives of most organizations view people and workforce related issues as a critical competitive differentiator and one of their top agenda items. This sentiment is evident in the survey conducted by Accenture in their 2006 Edition of the “Accenture High-Performance Workforce Study”, in which attracting and retaining skilled staff and developing talented leaders were cited by the executives as critical factors in achieving high performance (Accenture Consulting, 2006).

High Work Performance

In an organizational context high work performance is defined as an employee (or group of employees) at any level or functions that is focused on the right priorities and understand that they are accountable for delivering strong results. They are energized, engaged and perfectly positioned to give their best by exceeding or far exceeding their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Ability – Job Fit

Ability-job fit can be defined as the “fit between the abilities of a person and the demands of a job, or the desires of a person and the attributes of a job” (Sekiguchi, 2004).

Personality – Organization Fit

Personality-Organization is defined as the “compatibility between a person and the organization, emphasizing the extent to which a person and the organization share similar fundamental characteristics and/or meet each other’s needs” (Kristof, 1996).

Ability – Job Fit for High Performance

According to the literature on practical job previews, correct and practical job information enables applicants to review the degree of similarity between their knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s) and the job necessities. Applicants who identify a match between the job requirements and their KSA’s are likely to stay in selection and accept the job offer. The basic assumption of the theory is that applicants’ personal assessments play an important part in initial attraction, to remain in the selection procedure and finally in job acceptance decision.

Research also supports that subjective fit is the better predictor of hiring outcomes and applicant attitudes than the objective fit (Carless, 2005).

Ability-Job fit assessment

If you are a job seeker, you might not be considering the importance of “ability job-fit”, but this fit is critical. As research suggests, without it, you become among the estimated 75 percent of the workforce who are dissatisfied with their jobs (Coppola, Carini, 2006).

The ability job-fit model demonstrates that work performance, personal satisfaction and outcomes are enhanced when the employee and work environment are in perfect synch. Synchronization is a process that includes not just education and experience, but many dimensions of individual’s abilities: ability to learn, mental hard-wiring, personality archetypes, leadership dynamics and physical abilities (Coppola, Carini, 2006).

Job Characteristic Belief Dimensions

A primary classification in the job characteristics is Hackman and Oldham’s (1980) Job Characteristics Model, which includes five job characteristics:


Skill variety

Task feedback

Task identity

Task significance

Empirical findings on Job Characteristic Belief

Research on the model has also found that a multiplicative or additive index of the five job characteristics reflecting job complication is a better analyst of the model’s psychological findings than an individual job characteristic (Fried & Ferris, 1987). Thus, for the purpose of conciseness, a single complexity job characteristic feature was developed for the current research, involving the degree to which a job is complicated, challenging, and involves diverse tasks (Ehrhart, 2006).

Further, research finds that the five dimensions, in the Job Characteristics Model (JCM) predominantly relates to an individual’s experience of the job, regardless of other factions such as subordinates, co-workers, supervisors, or customers. Accordingly, the level and nature of interpersonal interaction required by customer service jobs is not represented in the JCM (Ehrhart, 2006).

Antecedents and outcomes of Ability-Job fit

The review of the ability-job fit literature by Edwards (1991) recognized job satisfaction, low job stress, motivation, performance, attendance and retention as outcomes that are positively affected by ability-job fit. When ability-job fit is assessed as the match between what an employee wants and receives from performing job, it is linked to enhance job-satisfaction, integration, and organizational commitment, as well as reduced intentions to resign. Additional benefits for task performance have been established when the meaning of ability-job fit is expanded to include the match between abilities and their job demands.

Research by Sekiguchi in 2004, also demonstrates that structured and validated measures for determining ability-job fit have led to efficient selection of employees leading to high performance compared to unstructured techniques (Sekiguchi, 2004).

Personality – Organization Fit for High Performance

Person-environment (P-E) fit propose that positive responses occur when there is a high level of compatibility between individuals and their environment. Research also emphasizes this proposition that individuals adapt easily to jobs that match appropriately with their career personality traits (Spokane, 1985; Tinsley, 2000).

P-E fit is seen as a general and wider term, and covers detailed concepts of fit. In the high work performance domain, one common form of fit has been identified as person-organization fit (P-O fit).

Further, empirical data suggests that Personality-Organisation fit is the key attribute in maintaining flexibility and dedicated workforce that is essential to a highly competitive organizational environment (Bowen, Ledford and Nathan, 1991; Kristoff, 1996).

The Person-Organization fit is distinguished into two types:

Supplementary fit

Complementary fit

Supplementary fit is defined as “when a person has similar characteristics to other individuals” (Ivancevich, Konopaske & Matteson, 2008).

Complementary fit is defined as “when the individual and the situation suit each other’s needs” (Ivancevich, Konopaske & Matteson, 2008).

In analysing the P-O fit and related affects on high work performance, the personality domain should be taken into account and evaluated.

The main personality domains of interests in the P-O fit are the following:

Big Five personality dimensions

Locus of Control


Big Five Personality Dimensions

In accordance with psychologists, the five big personality dimensions identified in humans are:


Emotional stability



Openness to experience

Extroversion is a trait that indicates a person’s outgoing, sociable behaviour. Research suggests that people with high extroversion thrive in sales and managerial positions as they enjoy interacting and conversing with fellow colleagues and peers Their performance excels in training programs and tends to contain superior levels of overall job contentment (Judge, Heller & Mount, 2002).

Emotional Stability is the ability to be calm, serene, relaxed and secure. Low emotional stability can result in job dissatisfaction and underperformance due to job-related stress (Judge & Ilies, August 2002).

Agreeableness is the tendency to be considerate, forgiving, tolerant, trusting and soft-hearted. In the organizational domain this is classified as “someone who gets along with others” and who possess a cooperative attitude. Agreeableness is a trait for a team player who can develop and maintain good interpersonal relationships and team cohesion (Neuman & Wright, June 1999, pp. 379-389). This trait is paramount for high performing teams, specifically in the occupations within areas of customer service, sales, auditing, nursing, teaching and social work.

Conscientiousness is to be dependable, organized, thorough, responsible and disciplined. Individuals displaying such traits have a tendency to work hard and enjoy achievements, which research has deemed to be important for job performance (Ivancevich, Konopaske & Matteson, 2008, page 75). Further, individuals in this group exhibit higher levels of motivation, job satisfaction and other important forms such as retention, attendance and less counterproductive behaviour which are imperative for job performance (Judge & Ilies, August 2002)..

Openness to experience tends to reflect the extent to which a person is broad-minded, creative, intelligent, inquisitive and willing to take risks. These characteristics are advantageous in occupations where innovation and change is continuous (Ivancevich, Konopaske & Matteson, 2008, page 75).

Empirical Findings on Big Five Personality

Barrick & Mount in 1991 conducted research to indentify the relationship between selected job performance criteria’s and Big Five personality dimensions within five occupational groups.

The job performance criteria’s were:

Personnel data

Training proficiency

Job proficiency

Meta-analysis findings of different occupational groups (professionals, skilled/semi-skilled labour, managers, police and sales) across Big five personality dimensions are presented in Table 1 – appendix1 (Barrick & Mount, 1991, p.12).

The results confirmed that for all the occupational groupings Conscientiousness was the valid predictor. The 5 occupational groups’ shows consistency across other personality dimensions (Barrick M.R & Mount M.K, 1991, pp.12-13)

In terms of Emotional Stability (ES) very little evidence was found. The correlations for ES were lower compared to conscientiousness, but ES for professionals was in fact in the opposite direction. Agreeableness and Extraversion were theorized as valid predictors for sales representatives and managers. This theory was found support for Extraversion in both occupations.

However, very less support was found for Agreeableness, for sales and for managers. Rest of the true score correlations with respect to other dimensions were quite low (Barrick M.R & Mount M.K, 1991, pp.14)

Table 2 in Appendix1 shows that Conscientiousness as a credible tool for all three criterion types and the results for Conscientiousness are consistent. Extraversion and Openness to Experience (OE) were significant predictors of training proficiency criterion. Most of the other remaining correlations were comparatively small for all three criterion types (Barrick M.R & Mount M.K, 1991, p.14)

Van Scotter and Motowidlo (cited in Murphy, Cleaveland & Beaty, 2001, p. 127) examined correlations between task performance and personality measures scores, and also the two dimensions of contextual performance:

Job dedication such as self-disciplined behaviours like working hard, following rules and taking initiative to solve a problem

Interpersonal facilitation (cooperative behaviours which helped co-workers in finishing their tasks)

These researchers found that Agreeableness, Extroversion, Conscientiousness, and Positive Affectivity were significantly related to inter personal facilitation and only Conscientiousness was related significantly to task performance (Murphy, Cleaveland and Beaty, 2001, pp.127)

The relationship between job context, job content sources of stress and selected behavioural and attitudinal outcomes, absenteeism and perceived performance, were empirically examined, while controlling for differences in personality, occupation and organizational culture. The research was conducted with twelve hundred hospital workers using an occupational stress questionnaire and attendance records. It was found that job content stress was found to reduce absenteeism but not to influence perceived performance, while job context stress increased absenteeism and reduced perceived performance (Arsenault, 1983, p.227)

The outcome of the research attributed personality to have significant effect on performance but not on absenteeism, but occupation influenced absenteeism but not performance; while organizational culture contributed to the explanation of both absenteeism and performance (Arsenault, 1983, p.227).

Smithikrai in 2008 conducted a study on Counter Productive Work Behaviour (CWB) and the extent to which the strength of situations moderates the relations between personality traits (Smithikrai, 2008, p.253).

The study set the following as the CWBs:


Production deviance

Workplace aggression


Sabotage or fraud

The Research found that conscientiousness is the strongest predictor of CWB (Hough, 1992; Salgado, 2002; Dalal, 2005; Sackett et al., 2006(cited in Smithikrai, 2008, p.253)).

The results also indicated that, in a weak situation only, conscientiousness has a stronger, negative relation to CWB when agreeableness is low than when agreeableness is high (Smithikrai, 2008, p.261).

Locus of control

Locus of control refers to the extent a person believes that specific outcomes are caused by their actions. If someone feels that they are in control of the outcomes, then they have an internal locus of control and the opposite be interpreted as external locus of control (Salazar, Hubbard & Salazar, 2002).

Empirical Findings on Locus of Control

Dailey’s (1980) study, conducted with 281 scientists, tackled the association between locus of control and task difficulty, task variability and job performance. The research indicated that individuals with an internal locus of control exhibited greater satisfaction, motivation and had an elevated level of involvement in their jobs leading to high performance.

Research with a group of accountants performed in Taiwan, also suggests that accountants’ personality, as measured by locus of control, plays an essential function in predicting the intensity of job performance (Jui-Chen Chen, Colin Silverthorne, 2008).

Self-efficacy (SE)

SE is essential for successful job performance and must not be underestimated as simply the belief that one’s capability and competence may even determine an individual’s attempt at completing a particular task. SE affects a person’s choice, behaviour, motivation, perseverance, and facilitative thought patterns. Low SE can result in incapacitating effects such as stress and depression, and thus should be handled with care for high job performance (Christopher, 1999).

Empirical Findings on Self-efficacy

Research was conducted amongst 118 employees in an Australian financial services firm Christopher, 1999). In the study, self-efficacy was found to mediate the association between the amount of prescribed training and superior ratings of improved performance among individuals in jobs where self-confidence was perceived to be crucial for positive outcome, but not among individuals in any positions where it was considered irrelevant (Christopher, 1999).

Research confirms the significance of self-regulatory mechanisms in performance achievements and motivational processes (Locke & Latham, 1990; Kanfer, 1990; Bandura, 1997; Carver & Scheier, 1985). Meta-analytic investigations and performance outcomes in a variety of contexts have been clearly established when self-efficacy is associated (Bandura, 1997) and meta-analytic investigations (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998a).

A positive connection between self-efficacy and work-related performance is found by researchers in areas such as computer-related tasks (Harrison, Rainer, Hochwarter, & Thompson, 1997), academic research productivity (Taylor, Locke, Lee, & Gist, 1984), managerial decision-making (Wood & Bandura, 1989a), career choice (Lent, Brown, & Larkin, 1987) organizational change (Judge, Thorensen, Pucik, & Welbourne, 1999) and coping with career-related stressful events (Stumpf, Brief, & Hartman, 1987).

The Importance of P-O Fit over Ability-Job Fit

Although studies of Ability Job Fit and Personality-Organization (P-O) Fit have been extensive and increasing, researchers have increasingly put more emphasis on P-O Fit. Kristof (1996) contends that there has been a growing interest in P-O Fit during the recent years by both scholars and managers. Bowen et al (1991) (cited in Sekiguchi, 2004) explains that “P-O fit is the key to maintaining the flexible and committed work force that is necessary in a competitive business environment and a tight labour market”.

Kristof, (1996) contends that P-O fit occurs when an organization satisfies an employee’s needs desires and preferences. The P-O fit argues that employee/persons leave jobs that are not compatible with their personalities. However, it has been argued that the ability job fit model emphasizes the performances of employees, but their satisfaction and thus the outcomes are enhanced when the employees and their work environment are in perfect synchronization (Coppola & Carini, 2006).

Also, according to Coppola and Carini (2006), individuals past experience and educational skills would not produce any tangible performance outcomes as they try to match their skills with a new job.

Sekiguchi, (2004) contends that employees and organization attract each other based on their similarities. This was confirmed by empirical evidence that an elevated level Personality-Organization fit is linked to a number of positive results. Vancouver & Schmitt, 1991, Brets & Judge, 1994, Chatman, 1991, Boxx et al; 1991, Downey et al; 1975, O’Reilly et al, 1991, Postner; et al; 1985, Tziner, 1987(cited in Sekiguchi, 2004) explains that empirical evidence discovered that Person Organization Fit was correlated to a number of positive performance outcomes.

Cable and Judge, (1996) explains that people select organizations that fulfil needs that has been seen a process that resulted in P-O fit. Chatman, 1989, 1991, Judge, 1993, O’Reilly et al., 1991, Meglino, et al., 1989 (cited in Cable & Judge, 1996, p. 297) further explains that employees are fully committed towards their organization when they share the values of their organizations and in turn they achieve maximum job satisfaction resulting in high performance.


Theory and research on Ability-Job Fit and Personality-Organisation fit involved a variety of levels of study with respect to high job performance. The analyses were conducted using various job abilities and personality traits in multiple conceptualizations leading to job performance. The P-O is the important attribute to an employee’s adaptability in an organization providing the essential impetus to higher work performance. This basically means that recruitment of persons possessing the right personality would result in far better job performance when the person and the organization are aligned together.

Based on the theoretical and empirical research on personality-organisation fit and ability-job fit, it’s extensively proven that personality-job fit carries more importance than the ability-job fit.


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