DOI: 10.1177/00187267231187751 ISSN: 0018-7267

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

Benedikt Englert, Martin Sievert, Bernd Helmig, Karen Jansen
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • General Social Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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 conducted a systematic review of the misfit literature and analyzed 106 scholarly articles published between 1981 and 2021. 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. Second, we provide a multi-level synthesis of the antecedents and outcomes of misfit that highlights the need for more cross-level and multi-level 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.

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