Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Business Administration

First Advisor

Kristof-Brown, Amy

First Committee Member

Rynes, Sara

Second Committee Member

Colbert, Amy

Third Committee Member

Firth, Brady

Fourth Committee Member

Li, Ning


Person-Environment (PE) Fit has been a subject of research interest for over 100 years, and although much is know about the consequences PE fit and the types of PE fit, the actions that people take in pursuit of this desirable condition are less well understood. This dissertation develops and tests a model that explains how personality traits influence individuals' choice of coping mechanisms used in pursuit of PE Fit and their ability to use them effectively. Achievement and anxiety motivations influence the choice of coping mechanisms used in pursuit of fit. The efficacy of these coping mechanisms to change the level of PE fit is determined by individuals' ability to respond to feedback from the environment, indicated by narcissism. I also explore the influence of aspects of change in the environment that drive individuals to cope with uncertainty during times of change. Finally, the level of fit achieved and the changes in fit made over time influence individuals' well-being and organizational commitment. I test this model using a pilot study sample of student teams assessed over the course of 5 time periods and a field study sample of working adults assess over the course of 4 time periods. I analyzed this data using Regression, Structural Equation Modeling, Random Coefficient Modeling, and Latent Growth Modeling.

Public Abstract

Nearly everyone has experienced the feeling of not fitting in at one time or another and we all know that it can be an unpleasant and distracting experience. Fitting in at work has been an area of study in the fields of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources for nearly 100 years because employees who do not fit in are more likely to be unhappy at work, to leave their jobs, and to be unproductive. Most of this research has focused on the positive (and occasionally the negative) consequences of fitting in at work and on the way that people and organizations pursue good fitting employees through the application, recruiting, and hiring processes. The purpose of this study is to explore how people work to achieve good fit when their fit is threatened by changes in the organization. This study also considers the role that personality differences play in determining how people cope with the stress associated with not fitting in and whether or not they are able to improve their fit. Finally, I describe how experiencing change in fit also affects individuals’ well-being, their satisfaction at work, and their desire to quit their job or stay in an environment where they do not fit in.


publicabstract, Coping, Personality, Person-Environment Fit, Stress


viii, 153 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 119-127).


Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Honor Follmer