Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2019

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 09/04/2021

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Business Administration

First Advisor

Kristof-Brown, Amy L

First Committee Member

Rynes, Sara

Second Committee Member

Su, Rong

Third Committee Member

Firth, Brady

Fourth Committee Member

Li, Ning


Person-Group (PG) fit is defined as the perceived compatibility between an individual and his or her workgroup, reflecting various social- and task-related elements of group work (Li, Kristof-Brown, & Nielsen, 2019). Although Yu’s (2013) theoretical motivation model of fit suggests that individuals are motivated and capable of changing and managing their PG fit perceptions, there is limited research on the specific actions that individuals take to manage their fit perceptions. Rather, most of the research in fit is concentrated on the positive outcomes (e.g., job satisfaction, commitment, performance) associated with fit (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005) and portrays individuals as passive recipients of their fit perceptions. The purpose of this study is to extend Yu’s (2013) model to demonstrate that individuals are active agents who seek to maintain high levels of PG fit and alter low levels of PG fit. To understand how individuals manage PG fit, I adopt the perspective that fit perceptions are, in part, socially constructed, such that groupmates’ actions can make individuals believe that they are more/less of a fit (Follmer, Talbot, Kristof-Brown, Astrove, & Billsberry, 2018). Thus, individuals are triggered to use impression management (IM) tactics to create, maintain, alter, control, and protect the images that others form of them (Leary & Kowalski, 1990). However, with the myriad of IM tactics, it is unclear what type of PG fit perceptions will trigger which specific IM tactics. This dissertation develops and tests a model that situates IM tactic usage based on what type of PG fit (e.g., social vs. task-based PG fit) is being pursued and what level of PG fit (higher vs. lower) the individual is currently perceiving. To facilitate the connection between PG fit and IM tactics, I also develop a typology that classifies commonly used IM tactics for explaining the situations that will influence the selection of specific tactics. Finally, I explore the psychological and emotional aftermath of engaging in IM tactics by examining which specific IM tactics are more likely to promote or harm: 1-individuals’ perception of PG fit, 2-individuals’ perception how groupmates perceive their PG fit, and 3-groupmates’ perception of the focal individuals’ PG fit.

I tested this model with a multisource, three waved time-lagged field survey study across a two-month period. I collected data in two samples: university staff employees who work in group settings and student groups in a business consulting class. Using structural equation modeling and latent change scores, I found that individuals are not passive respondents of their PG fit perceptions. Rather, they are active agents who seek to maintain higher levels of fit and alter lower levels of fit using IM tactics. Yet, the likelihood of using certain tactics for individuals with higher levels of fit differed from the tactics used by individuals with lower levels of fit. Some tactics were associated with improvements in fit, others were not, and a few were associated with reductions in fit. Generally, individuals who began with higher levels of perceived PG fit engaged in IM tactics that were later associated with improved fit. In contrast, individuals who had lower levels of perceived PG fit (namely social-based PG fit) engaged in IM tactics that were later shown to be associated with reductions in fit. These results suggest that individuals with high levels of fit tend to choose the “correct” IM tactics to maintain and improve their fit to an even higher degree, but the misfits tend to choose tactics that damage their fit even further. This highlights the importance of understanding that even though individuals are active agents who seek to manage their perceived fit, the specific actions they engage in to do so are complex and not always appropriate. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as future research directions, are discussed.


Impression Management, Person-Environment Fit, Person-Group Fit


x, 145 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 123-130).


Copyright © 2019 Christina S. Li

Available for download on Saturday, September 04, 2021