The concept of person–environment fit has long enjoyed high popularity in professional behavior and management literature (Chatman, 1989). For matching theory, relevant research includes the fit between person–job, person–subordinate, person–team, person–organization, and person–environment. Among these fields, the latter is a relatively broad concept, including that of NS, referring to the matching between environmental supply and employees’ psychological needs (e.g., desires, values, and goals), and DA fit, referring to the compatibility between environmental needs and individual personality, knowledge, skills, and abilities (Kristof-Brown, 2000; Kristof, 2006; Rounds et al., 1987; O’reilly et al., 1991; Vecchione et al., 2016).
The person–environment fit is shown to have a positive effect on employees’ mental health (Caplan, 1987; Dec and Ryan, 2008; Hogg, 2000), such as personal will (Chatman, 1989; Vansteenkiste et al., 2007; Shen et al., 2018), job satisfaction (Gregory et al., 2010), organizational commitment (Milliman et al., 2017), job performance and organizational citizenship behavior (Nye et al., 2012; Marstand et al., 2017), and interpersonal relationships (Hogg, 2000; Edwards and Cable, 2009). By contrast, mismatched relationships have a negative effect on unproductive work behavior (Nye et al., 2017; Van Iddekinge et al., 2011). At the same time, the matching between people and environment has a significant effect on the basic results (work attitude, such as satisfaction) (Judge et al., 2002; Steel et al., 2008) has no significant effect on behavior results (e.g., performance, turnover rate, and job choice) (Judge and Bono, 2001; Bakker et al., 2014).
Person-Environment Fit and Work Satisfaction
Person–environment fit is essentially a matter of matching person characteristics with environment traits, including personality, job, colleagues, organization, and other factors. Previous literature focuses on consistency and complementary fit (Edwards, 1996; Arthur et al., 2006; Slocombe and Bluedorn, 1999; Jun and Gentry, 2005; Kristof-Brown, et al., 2005). Consistency fit refers to that of values and goals between individuals and organizations, while complementary fit refers to the consistency of needs from each other between individuals and the organization, mainly involving the complementarity between individual needs and organization supply, as well as individual capabilities and organizational demand (Lang et al., 2007). Other existing studies also focus on the person–colleague (leaders) fit, which is closely related to values and work style to a great extent. Limited to the content of this study, and following Shen et al. (2018), we use the complementary fit to represent person–environment fit, which includes NS and DA fit.
Person–environment fit is the match between personal and organizational characteristics, specifically the extent to which individual traits satisfy the organization's demand. These characteristics mainly include employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. The person–environment fit contains two main aspects, namely, DA and NS fit. The former mainly refers to the consistency of employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities with job responsibilities and work contents while the latter refers to whether employees’ material and spiritual needs are met by the organization through their work.
Previous findings on how person–environment fit affects employee behavior remain inexact or even contradictory. Several scholars suggest that person-environment fit is positively related to work satisfaction (Rounds et al., 1987; Kristof-Brown et al., 2005; Edwards, 2008; Edwards and Shipp, 2007; Marstand et al., 2017), while others argue that such relationship is not always positive (Atitsogbui et al., 2018). If employees’ needs are highly satisfied, then improving the person–environment fit by increasing organizational supply does not necessarily benefit performance (Andela and Doef, 2018; Rauvola et al., 2020). Therefore, we believe that nonlinear models can better describe this relationship (Pee and Min, 2017). In the organizational environment, a high level of work satisfaction requires much personal work engagement. People who feel an imbalance between engagement and rewards may feel frustrated and stressed or even leave their jobs. This trend also shows the non-linear relationship between person–environment fit and work satisfaction. Generally, job and employees’ personal characteristics fall under the category of person–job fit, that is, the work environment is contained in the person–organization fit, while relationship with colleagues is contained in the person–colleague fit. Therefore, as the level of person–environment fit increases, the level of employee satisfaction also increases (Atitsogbui and Amponsah-Tawiah, 2019). In other words, better NS and DA fit bring higher level of work satisfaction. However, as the degree of matching increases, employees work hard to acquire new knowledge, master new skills, and even change old cognition. Thus, work satisfaction eventually suffers. On the basis of the above analysis, we propose the following hypotheses:
Hypotheses H1a: Needs-Supplies (NS) fit has a significant positive linear effect and a negative curvilinear (inverted U-shape) effect on work satisfaction. Specifically, work satisfaction tends to increase as the gap between needs and supplies decreases.
Hypotheses H1b: Demands-abilities (DA) fit has a significant positive linear effect and a negative curvilinear (inverted U-shape) effect on work satisfaction. Specifically, work satisfaction tends to increase as the gap between demand and ability decreases.
The Mediating Role of Work Satisfaction in the Relationship Between Person-Environment Fit and Organizational Performance
Work satisfaction is the overall status regarding employee perceptions and expectations regarding their work environment, referring to psychological gap between their desired and actual results, which ultimately affects job outcomes (Bertrais et al., 2021). Work satisfaction is considered closely related to job burnout, turnover intention, and organizational citizenship behavior. Generally, as the gap between employee perceptions and expectations of their environment decreases, their job satisfaction increases (Gerich and Weber, 2020). When perceptions are lower than expectations, employees develop dissatisfaction, which manifests as loss, complaints, intention to leave, and even tardiness, absenteeism, and anti-productivity. When perceptions are equal to expectations, employees develop general satisfaction, which manifests as work on time. When perceptions exceed expectations, employees develop a sense of superiority and happiness, which manifest in high organizational commitment, loyalty, and citizenship behaviors. Hauff et al. (2015) studied the effect of ethnic culture on work satisfaction according to Hofstede's cultural dimension. Significant differences were observed in the effects of job characteristics on work satisfaction across countries. Afsar (2015) investigated how person–environment fit affects employees’ innovative work behaviors and ultimately affects job performance, suggesting its positive relation on innovative work behavior and to job performance through innovation trust. Yu (2016) examined the above relationships by multiple regression analysis and found that dimensions of person–environment fit significantly and positively predicted employees’ work satisfaction. NS fit shows the strongest effect while DA fit shows the weakest effect. The types of fit can improve work satisfaction by promoting work–family balance. On the basis of the above analysis, we propose the following hypotheses:
Hypotheses H2: Work satisfaction has a positive curvilinear relationship (U-shaped) with organizational performance and its various dimensions (task, relationship, innovation, and learning). Specifically, the dimensions of organizational performance tend to increase as the work satisfaction increases.
Hypotheses H3: Work satisfaction plays a mediating role in the effect of person–environment fit on various dimensions of organizational performance (task, relationship, innovation, and learning).