Person-organization fit – my thoughts

Organization is a social unit of people, systematically structured and managed to meet a need or to pursue a collective goal, what Buchanan & Huczynski (2010:13) refer to as a social arrangement in which people strive to achieve control over resources in order to produce goods and services efficiently.

Culture on the other hand, refers to shared values, patterns of thought and behaviour, interactions, cognitive constructs and beliefs in a given group of people. An organization is made up of people. Put together, organizational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs and norms which influence the way things are done in an organization (Jackson & Parry, 2008:64). Organizational culture generates the organization’s identity and characterizes it from other organizations.

Person-organization fit is the compatibility that is determined when an entity provides what the other needs. Individuals are employed in an organization based on the need to “take care of themselves and look after their own interests and those of their close families” (Jackson & Parry, 2008:70). The employee’s needs include pay, promotion and the space or freedom to function within the organization.


The congruence perspective (O’Reilly et al, 1991) is based on the notion that employees adapt and adjust better to their work environment when the organization’s characteristics match their personal orientation. Replicating this study, Vandenberghe (1999:182) is of the view that “recruits whose value profile is close to that of their employing organizations are more likely to stay with it during the early employment period.”

On the other hand, sense-making as a social process, is an approach to thinking about and implementing identity construction, looking for cues as a response to how people see or understand things. This is what Pye (2005) means when she held that people are active interpreters of their social worlds and that “the measure of any piece of behaviour is the response to it.” Sense-making therefore applies to the social nature of organizations, offering the opportunity to extract and enact cues and construction of individual and collective identities.

Leadership as influence is all about sense-making and what leaders do and uphold firmly forms some aspects of their organizational culture. Leadership according to Jackson & Parry (2008:71) is judged according to the extent to which they provide environments for their followers to express themselves. The objective of organizations is to increase productivity and turn over in profit. From O’Reilly et al.’s (1991) conclusion fit between an individual’s preference for a particular culture (values) and the culture of the organization he/she joins has a role in the employee’s job commitment, satisfaction and on-the-job performance.

It is my view therefore, that when an individual is employed in an organization whose culture he/she idealizes, engaged in the role for which the employee is fit and given the right environment and motivation, he will give the best of his time, talent and energy.


I am working in broadcasting medium with the focus of informing, educating and entertaining the viewing public on all issues. My own profession is journalism and journalists by role, function round the clock. Among the ethics of journalism practice are fairness and objectivity. The role especially on television (sound and picture) demands clarity. One of the things that attracted me to take a job in television was the glamour and organization.

There are a number of culture profile items in O’Reilly et al.’s (1991) study that reflect my organization’s culture and these, to a large extent, gave me job satisfaction in playing role in the organization.

  1. Demanding: The organization demands so much of employees’ time to sustain its 24/7 operations. In the course of my study in Journalism and Television, I was groomed for it and since taking up the job over the past three decades as a television journalist, I try always to beat deadline.
  2. Working long hours: The organization transmits 24/7 and to keep up with this commitment to its viewers, the number of workers in the service has to work for minimum fifteen hours daily on the average. This is in view of the fact that the organization cannot take on more than a specific number of workers at a time.
  3. Supportive: The management of the organization supports and stands by its workers at all times. Even when a staff (journalist in particular) is in conflict with government, the organization comes to stand between. I have been involved in the investigation of number of issues which brought me into conflict with governments, security forces (police and army) and some other groups and my organization had always stood by me in support.
  4. Fairness: The fairness doctrine of the journalism profession is central in the organization’s news and programmes and reprimands conduct in violation of the culture hence the inclusion of the clause on ‘right of reply’ in its broadcast manual.
  5. Emphasis on quality: The organization does not compromise on quality in all aspects of its operation and therefore invests heavily on technology and human capacity building.

The Chief Executive and management team in the organization are professionals, with each heading the department of his calling. They are involved in the operations and show the culture of how things are done. That way, workers take the cue and new comers fit in through the high level of socialization.


Buchanan, D.A & Huczynski, A.A (2010) Organizational Behaviour (7th ed.) Harlow England p. 13

Jackson, B. & Parry, K. (2008) A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying leadership, Sage (1st ed.) City Road London p. 71

O’Reilly, C.A., Chatman, J. & Caldwell, D.F. (1991) ‘People and organizational culture: a profile comparison approach to assessing person-organization fit’, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 34 No. 3 p. 511-512. Available from:

Pye, A. (2005) ‘Leadership and organizing: sense making in action’, Leadership Vol. 1 No. 31 p. 36. Sage [online]

Smircich, L. & Morgan, G. (1982) ‘Leaders: the management of meaning’, Journal of Applied Behavioural Science Vol. 18 No. 3 p. 259. Available from:

Vandenberghe, C. (1999) ‘Organizational culture, person-culture fit, and turnover: a replication in the healthcare industry’, Journal of Organizational Behaviour Vol. 20 p. 182.







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