Group Size as a Moderator of the Effect of Equity Sensitivity on Employee Job Satisfaction

Article excerpt

Most previous studies of Person-Environment fit have failed to use objective measures of the work environment i.e., measures that are not about how subjects perceive the environment and do not require them to make judgements about it. This study aims to further develop and improve the operationalisation of Person-Environment fit by investigating objective fit and by using concepts from Equity Theory (Adams, 1965). Equity sensitivity was measured as a personality trait by the 16PF (Cattel et al 1987) and group size (the objective measure of the work environment) was obtained from company records. Pay and co-worker satisfaction were each measured by a twenty-point scale adapted from Meir Hadas & Noyfeld (1997). Using data from 257 shop-floor workers in a factory in the United Kingdom, the results of hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that the relationship between sensitivity and pay and co-worker satisfaction are moderated by group size such that the relationship is positive in small groups and negative in large groups.


Parsons' (1909) seminal work appears to be the first to have stressed the importance of both person and environment variables in vocational choice. There is an abundance of research that examined the degree of fit between the person and the environment i.e., person-environment fit or P-E fit and how that is associated with satisfaction. Buboltz, Ebberwein, Watkins and Savickas (1995) discovered that in the last twenty years preceding their article, a total of two-hundred and twenty -nine articles on P-E fit appeared in the Journal of Vocational Behavior and seventy -five articles on it appeared in the Career Development Quarterly. They also noted that, about sixty -three of the two-hundred and twenty -nine articles on P-E fit in the Journal of Vocational Behavior and twenty -two out of the seventy -five in the Career Development Quarterly appeared during the last five years preceding their article. Kristof, Zimmerman and Johnson (2005) have given one of the most up-to-date and comprehensive review of the previous studies on P-E fit. So have Piasentin and Chapman (2006) and Verquer, Beehr and Wagner (2003) when they conducted a meta-analytic review of 46 and 21 studies of P-E fit respectively. Thus, it still remains a current area of research interest (Bardi, Guerra and Ramdeny, 2009; Lyons, and O'Brien, 2006; Edwards, Cable, Williamson, Lambert, and Shipp, 2006; Kristof, Zimmerman and Johnson, 2005; Caldwell, Herold, and Fedor, 2004). The concept of P-E fit has been described as, "so pervasive as to be one of, if not the dominant conceptual forces in the field" (Schneider, 2001 : 142).

Yet, despite the illuminating articles by Kristof et al., (2005, 1996), other researchers appear somewhat confused especially when it came to operationalising objective fit, as evident in a recent study by Wessel, Ryan and Oswald (2008). True objective fit, is the fit when the measures of the environment are taken from a separate source and not from the respondent i.e., the one who is providing the information relating to the 'person' variable (Kristof et al, 2005, 1996). One example of a measure of the environment that can be obtained objectively from company records is group size. Until today, there has not been a single P-E fit study that addressed this issue specifically. Moreover, most P-E fit research looked at various conceptualisations of personality or values when measuring the person. Equity sensitivity, as a measure of the person has previously been ignored in P-E fit literature.


The objective of this study is to examine the degree of objective fit between the person and the environment and how that is associated with satisfaction. More precisely, it examines the interaction between sensitivity (person) and group size (an objective measure of the work environment) and how that is associated with pay and co-worker satisfaction (dependent variables). …


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