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The incongruity of misfit: a systematic literature review and research agenda

Englert, B., Sievert, M., Helmig, B. and Jansen, K. (2023) The incongruity of misfit: a systematic literature review and research agenda. Human Relations. ISSN 1741-282X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/00187267231187751


For decades, research on person-environment (P-E) fit has been a prevalent topic, emphasizing alignment between employees and the work environment and the accompanying positive consequences that flow from good fit. However, given the frequency of change and volatility experienced in organizations, it is far more likely that individuals, work groups, and organizations will sporadically experience misfit with various aspects of the environment. This recognition has led to steady growth in misfit research, but this literature lacks conceptual clarity, provides differing views on the interplay between fit and misfit, and as a result, insights on the consequences of misfit are fragmented. To address these shortcomings, we conduct a systematic review the misfit literature, analyzing 106 scholarly articles published between 1981 and 2021. Our review is guided by the following questions: (1) What is misfit and how is it measured? (2) How does it develop, grow, and change over time, and (3) What are its antecedents and outcomes? Our review offers three key contributions. First, we identify four distinct conceptualizations of misfit from the literature and then offer an integrative definition of misfit as the recognition of misalignment with one or more aspects of the environment experienced in moments, as events occur, or as situations evolve. Second, we provide a multilevel synthesis of the antecedents and outcomes of misfit that highlights the need for more cross-level and multilevel research. Third, we lay out a rich and detailed agenda of future research to further enhance our knowledge of misfit as a concept distinct from its P-E fit roots.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
ID Code:112320
Uncontrolled Keywords:Person-environment misfit, systematic literature review, temporal dynamics, conceptual critique, integrated research agenda
Publisher:SAGE Publications


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