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Person–Organization Fit and Turnover Intention

Exploring the Mediating Effect of Work Engagement and the Moderating Effect of Demand–Ability Fit

Peng, Jui-Chen1*; Lee, Yin-Ling2; Tseng, Mei-Man3

Author Information
Journal of Nursing Research: March 2014 - Volume 22 - Issue 1 - p 1-11
doi: 10.1097/jnr.0000000000000019
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Person–organization (P–O) fit has become an increasingly important aspect of the employment relationship in nursing. Previous studies have indicated that P–O fit is significantly related to individual intention as well as attitudinal and behavioral outcomes concerning, for example, turnover intent, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, task performance, and context performance (Greguras & Diefendorff, 2009; Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005; Leung & Chaturvedi, 2011; Tak, 2011). However, a comprehensive review of the P–O fit literature has highlighted the absence of research on mediators that explain how the P–O fit process influences distal intrinsic outcomes. To date, only one study has tested and found support for an intermediate mechanism. Greguras and Diefendorff found that innate psychological-need satisfaction mediated the relationship between P–O fit and employee outcomes, including affective commitment and task performance. However, further exploration of mediating mechanisms in the P–O fit topic may help clarify not only the direct effects of P–O fit on suppressing employee intention to quit but also how and why P–O fit leads to intrinsic outcomes (i.e., turnover intention).

In Taiwan’s hospitals, high nurse turnover rates significantly increase the operating and managerial costs of hospitals and negatively affect the functions of the overall medical system; these outcomes, in turn, reduce medical service quality. According to the person–environment fit paradigm, management scholars have consistently found perceived P–O fit as particularly relevant to turnover decisions (e.g., Cable & DeRue, 2002; Lauver & Kristof-Brown, 2001), including turnover decisions related to nursing workers (Takase, Nakayoshi & Teraoka, 2012). Therefore, the first purpose of this study was to determine whether high perceived P–O fit levels reduce the turnover intention of nurses.

Previous studies have argued that engaged employees are more creative, productive, and willing to “go the extra mile” (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008) as well as have comparatively high energy levels and strongly identify with their work (Bakker, Schaufeli, Leiter, & Taris, 2008). Recent research has found that employee engagement in the workplace is predictive of outcomes such as increased commitment, improved performance, and decreased absenteeism (Rich, Lepine, & Crawford, 2010; Schaufeli, Bakker, & Van Rhenen, 2009). Maslach and Leiter (2008) associated employee-perceived job–person congruity with employee engagement in his or her work. Empirical research has shown that job engagement mediates the relationship between value congruence and job performance (Rich et al., 2010). In a quantitative review of work engagement, Christian, Garza, and Slaughter (2011) suggested that future researchers should examine whether engagement serves as a mediator in the person–environment fit–performance relationship. Therefore, according to the above research and based on the theme of engagement, the second aim of this study was to examine a motivation mechanism by including work engagement as a mediator to elicit the effect of P–O fit on the turnover intention of nurses.

Past fit studies were predominantly restricted to examinations of the main effects of fit perceptions (e.g., Cable & DeRue, 2002; Tak, 2011). However, researchers have recently shifted their focus to the interactive effects of multiple fit perceptions on intention and attitudes (e.g., Chang, Chi, & Chuang, 2010; Resick, Baltes, & Shantz, 2007). In fact, empirical research has shown that the interaction between P–O fit and perceived demand–ability (D–A) fit is important for employee intent to accept a job offer (Resick et al., 2007). Therefore, the third aim of this study was to explore the role of perceived D–A fit in the relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention by testing whether D–A fit acts as a moderator in this relationship.

This study extends previous research in four ways. First, the literature has thus far not revealed the mediating mechanisms of employee psychological states in the behavior–outcome process of P–O fit. This study integrated the fit and engagement research by exploring the mediating role of employee work engagement as it affects perceived P–O fit and thus employees’ turnover intention. This approach is important because it extends the research domains of these two fields and clarifies issues regarding how and why P–O fit relates negatively to the turnover intention of nurses. Second, this study is a response to the call of Kristof-Brown et al. (2005) that there is a “need for future research on personal and situational characteristics that moderate fit–outcome relationships” (p. 322). We now examine the potential moderating effect of D–A fit on the relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention. Third, following the suggestion of Bakker and Schaufeli (2008), organizations need engaged employees to be proactive, show initiative, collaborate smoothly with others, take responsibility for their own professional development, and be committed to high-quality performance standards. To achieve these expectations, many organizations seek employees who feel energetic and dedicated and are absorbed in their work. Thus, this study explored the role of positive psychological states (i.e., work engagement) in employee behavior, which may help establish positive psychological and organizational human capital. Finally, we address the generalizability of perceived fits and engagement with ethnic Chinese in Taiwan and elsewhere, as most extant studies have relied on data from Western samples.

Literature Review and Hypotheses

Linking person–organization fit to turnover intention

P–O fit is defined as “the compatibility between people and organizations that occurs when (a) at least one entity provides what the other needs (complementary fit), (b) they share similar fundamental characteristics (supplementary fit), or (c) both” (Kristof, 1996, pp. 4–5). P–O fit can be further categorized into three types of fits: (a) perceived fit (when an individual directly judges the compatibility between him or her and an organization), (b) subjective fit (when a fit is assessed indirectly through comparison of an individual and an organization reported by the same person), and (c) objective fit (when a fit is calculated indirectly through comparison of an individual and an organization as reported by external sources; Kristof-Brown et al., 2005). This study characterized P–O fit as a perceived supplementary fit (i.e., value congruence) to examine its relationship with employee outcomes.

A few theoretical frameworks have connected P–O fit to the attitudes and behavior of employees. For example, the attraction–selection–attrition model (Schneider, Goldstein, & Smith, 1995) pointed out that, in the process of recruitment, selection, and socialization, an organization can attract employees that share an affinity with it, creating a situation where its employees share homogeneous traits. In other words, employees willing to stay with the organization have values and preferences approaching those of the organization (i.e., fit). Hence, the less value-related conflict and more similarity in preferences and goals, the greater the number of attitudinal-related outcomes, meaning that turnover intention will decrease.

Relevant empirical studies have shown that P–O fit is negatively associated with turnover intention (Wang, Zhan, McCune, & Truxillo, 2011). Tak (2011) showed a statistically significant negative relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention. Vandenberghe (1999) found that a sample of nurses in Belgium were less likely to quit after 12 months if they perceived high P–O fit. On the basis of the above arguments, we formed an initial expectation of a negative association between nurse P–O fit and nurse turnover intention.

Work engagement as a mediator

Engagement is a motivational construct used to describe “a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption” (Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Romá, & Bakker, 2002, p. 74). Rather than a momentary and specific state, engagement refers to a more persistent and pervasive affective–cognitive state that is not focused on any particular object, event, individual, or behavior (Schaufeli et al., 2002). Vigor is characterized by high levels of energy, willingness, and perseverance in dealing with workplace duties and difficulties. Dedication is characterized by a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, and challenge. Basically, dedication refers to an individual’s knowledge, enthusiasm, and honor in the workplace. The final dimensions of engagement and absorption are characterized by having an emotionally stimulating preoccupation with work. However, increasing evidence suggests that absorption should be considered a consequence of work engagement, rather than one of its components (Salanova, Llorens, Cifre, Martínez, & Schaufeli, 2003). Therefore, in measuring nurses’ work engagement constructs, only the two subdimensions of vigor and dedication were used to assess the presence of a mediating effect between P–O fit and turnover intention.

Regarding the connection between P–O fit and work engagement, the value-congruence perspective can be applied to relationships between individuals and organizations when specifically considering the relationship between P–O fit and engagement. Value congruence is based on the notion of supplementary fit such that individuals possess characteristics that are similar to others’ characteristics in the overall environment (Kristof, 1996). Thus, value congruence may be the outcome of an organization’s recruitment and selection of personnel and may also develop during the time in which an employee gradually socializes into an organization (Verplanken, 2004). In general, organizational values express themselves through an organization’s standard communication channel, conveying information to organization members regarding appropriate behavior and work-role expectations. Therefore, certain personal values held by organization members may reflect not only organization-expected behavioral standards but also employees’ perceptions of themselves within the organization (i.e., employees’ preferred self-images). If employees believe that their values are congruent with those of their organization, then their preferred self-image and perception of the organization’s employee-role expectations also stand a good chance of becoming congruent (Kristof, 1996). The psychological perceptions of employees of worthwhile and valuable actions at work encourage them to consider their work meaningful, which makes them much more inclined to perceive themselves worthwhile in the workplace (Kahn, 1990). In fact, Rich et al. (2010) pointed out that perceived value congruence relates positively to job engagement and that engagement mediates the relationship between value congruence and performance.

Regarding the connections between employees’ workplace engagement and turnover, employees who are engaged are more likely to be psychologically and physically devoted to their work. In other words, highly engaged employees find it difficult to detach themselves from their jobs because they devote considerable physical–emotional energy and invest their own identities into their work, thus entwining personal emotions with professional responsibilities. In contrast, the job characteristics model (Hackman & Oldham, 1975) posits that work itself yields feedback capable of affecting employees’ perceptions of their work, further influencing personal behavior and work performance. Thus, employees who identify with and have deep affective attachment to their work gain more resources (e.g., flexibility, work-related skills) and are more hesitant to consider leaving their jobs (de Lange, De Witte, & Notelaers, 2008).

Furthermore, the conservation of resources theory posits that, if employees leave their current jobs, they may need to devote precious resources to finding new jobs. Thus, for employees, the risk of changing jobs is very high. A highly engaged employee has likely devoted many resources to—and can gain precious resources from—his or her current work; therefore, it would be reasonable for him or her to take steps to protect these resources (Hobfoll, 2001). These employees are relatively more likely to continue in their current jobs, a tendency that translates into relatively low turnover intention.

Among studies examining work engagement and outcome variables, Halbesleben (2010) presented a meta-analysis of the literature on the subject of work engagement, finding strong relationships between engagement and intention to leave, with corrected population correlations ranging from .25 (for the vigor dimension) to .45 (for the dedication dimension). Therefore, on the basis of the above literature and relevant empirical analyses, we assume that work engagement in nurses plays a mediating role between P–O fit and turnover intention.

Demand–ability fit as a moderator

Management scholars have consistently found that the P–O fit and person–job (P–J) fit are particularly relevant to turnover decisions (Cable & DeRue, 2002; Lauver & Kristof-Brown, 2001). P–J fit reflects the match between employees’ personal characteristics and job attributes, which corresponds to complementary fit (Cable & Edwards, 2004). Complementary fit encompasses both D–A fit and need–supply (N–S) fit (Cable & DeRue, 2002). D–A fit reflects the level of compatibility between employees’ job requirements and employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), and N–S fit reflects the extent to which the attributes and rewards of a job fulfill employees’ psychological needs or preferences. Resick et al. (2007) suggested that the interaction between D–A fit and P–O fit is an important factor in employees’ turnover intention, whereas the interaction between N–S fit and P–O fit is an important factor in employees’ job satisfaction. Following these suggestions, this study focused on D–A fit and treated this fit as a moderator, because it is more relevant to outcome variables (i.e., turnover intention). Furthermore, N–S fit was added as a control variable.

D–A and P–O fits are interdependent constructs and influence employees’ work attitudes in unique ways (Cable & Edwards, 2004; Lauver & Kristof-Brown, 2001). However, these studies have focused only on the main effects of each fit type, representing simple additive effects. To date, only two related studies have examined the interactive effects of P–O and D–A fits on the turnover intention of employees. In a study of interns working at a large manufacturing company, Resick et al. (2007) found that D–A fit moderated P–O fit and intent to accept a job offer. Another study, with research and development engineers at high-technology companies, Chang et al. (2010) found that employees’ perceived P–O and D–A fits jointly interacted with perceived training investment to influence turnover intentions. These findings suggest that employees combine information about their environments in more complex ways than would be identifiable using simple additive models and that high fit with one aspect of the work environment may compensate for low fit in another area. In other words, when employees experience good fit with one facet of the environment and poor fit with another area, they may downplay the lack of a fit to reduce the dissonance that might arise from conflicting perceptions of another fit. As a result, good fit with one aspect of the work environment becomes the dominant fit cue that is relied upon when forming work-related attitudes or intentions.

Regarding the interactive effects between P–O fit and D–A fit on turnover intention, in the current case addressing nurses, high D–A fit indicates adequate KSAs to perform their job and meet professional requirements and thus higher job performance (Cable & DeRue, 2002). However, as Jackofsky (1984) argued, high performers enjoy the benefit of having numerous actual or perceived alternative job offers and greater ease of movement. Therefore, when high performers are not attracted to their current organizations, they are more likely to leave. In other words, employee perception of a potential job demand suited to their ability may become a salient and dominant D–A fit cue. Following in this vein, good D–A fit should increase the job performance of nurses, which will, in turn, enhance their “movement capital” in terms of good ability or skills (Trevor, 2001) and may make them more attractive to other employers. Therefore, nurses with high D–A fit but low P–O fit are more likely to consider leaving their current organizations than those with high D–A and P–O fits.

Similarly, Wheeler, Buckley, Halbesleben, Brouer, and Ferris (2005) proposed a misfit model to probe employees’ responses to misfit perceptions, including “adaptation” and “exit.” If employees perceive they fit well with their current job or organization, they tend to stay with the current organization. However, employees who perceive low D–A fit with their job but good P–O fit with their organization are likely to have KSAs that are incompatible with given job requirements although their employee values are congruent with the given organizational culture. This incompatibility will prompt these employees to regard their organization as attractive, so that they will be more likely than employees with low D–A fit and P–O fit to employ “adaptation” as a strategy to deal with their incongruent professional fit. Therefore, on the basis of the above literature and relevant empirical analyses, we expect that D–A fit is a necessary condition for P–O fit to reduce the turnover intention of nurses.


On the basis of the above discussions, we tested the following hypotheses in our model.

  • Hypothesis 1: P–O fit relates negatively to turnover intention.
  • Hypothesis 2: Work engagement mediates the relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention.
  • Hypothesis 3: D–A fit moderates the relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention such that the negative relationship will be stronger for employees with high D–A fit than for those with low D–A fit.

Figure 1 presents the hypotheses of this study. We hypothesize that P–O fit is associated with turnover intention directly and indirectly (through work engagement) and that D–A fit moderates the direct relationship.

Figure 1
Figure 1:
Hypothesized model showing the proposed relationship between person–organization fit and turnover intention as mediated by work engagement and moderated by demand–ability fit.


Data Collection

Study participants were recruited from registered nurses working at two hospitals, a 1,000-bed regional teaching hospital and a 600-bed regional hospital, in Yilan County, Taiwan. The administrations of each of the two target hospitals approved this study. To ensure that all participants were familiar with nursing department procedures, recruitment was limited to nurses who had been employed by the hospital for at least 3 months. This limitation gave researchers a potential participant pool of 450 nurses. Participants were asked to assess their perceived P–O fit, N–S fit, D–A fit, work engagement, turnover intention, and control variables.

A survey questionnaire was distributed to 450 respondents during working hours with all responses guaranteed to remain confidential. Three hundred forty-nine participants (229 and 120 nurses from the teaching and regional hospitals, respectively) completed and returned the survey to administrative assistants of the respective nursing departments. The first author collected questionnaires from the administrative assistants. The valid response rate was 77%. Because Taiwan’s cultural context has pronounced gender divisions in the workplace, the sample for this study was 100% women. The average age of participants was 31.8 (standard deviation = 6.62) years, and average job tenure was 7.9 (standard deviation = 5.89) years. In terms of nursing education, 4.2% held a high school degree, 59.6% held an associate degree, and 36.1% held a bachelor’s degree.

Measurement Instruments

We used scales that have been used in studies of English speakers. All scale items were translated into Chinese and back-translated into English by two professional English–Chinese translators to ensure semantic equivalence.

Perceived Person–Organization Fit

Respondents were asked to indicate fit with the organization according to three items derived from Cable and DeRue (2002). An example item was as follows: “The things that I value in life are very similar to those that my organization values.” A 6-point scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree was used. Cronbach’s α for the P–O fit scale was .93.

Perceived Demand–Ability Fit

Perceived D–A fit was also adapted from Cable and DeRue’s (2002) three item scales (sample item: “The match is very good between the demands of my job and my personal skills”). Respondents were asked to evaluate their perceptions of D–A fit using a 6-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree. The Cronbach’s α for the D–A fit scale was .94.

Work Engagement

The two work engagement subscales consisting of vigor and dedication measures were adopted from the Utrecht work engagement scale, as suggested by Schaufeli et al. (2002). These subscales were measured using a 6-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = never to 6 = always. Vigor contained six question items (e.g., “When I get up in the morning, I feel like going to work”). Dedication contained five question items (e.g., “To me, my job is inspiring”). Because hypotheses in this study operated at the construct level, our analyses used a composite score for engagement rather than a score based on subfacets. Cronbach’s α for the measure of work engagement was .93.

Turnover Intention

We measured nurses’ turnover intention using three items from Bozeman and Perrewé’s (2001) Turnover Cognition Scale (e.g., “I am thinking about quitting my job”). Responses were made on a 6-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree. The Cronbach’s α for the turnover intention scale was .93.

Control Variables

N–S fit was measured using Cable and DeRue’s (2002) three-item scale (e.g., “The attributes that I look for in a job are fulfilled very well by my present job”). Responses were scored on a 6-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree. The Cronbach’s α for the N–S fit scale was .91. In addition, level of education (1 = vocational high school degree, 2 = associate degree, 3 = bachelor degree, and 4 = master degree) and job tenure were added as control variables to minimize potential effects.


The institutional review board of the Cathay General Hospital approved the questionnaire survey used for the teaching hospital. The administrative management department of the regional hospital approved the questionnaire survey used at that hospital.


Descriptive and Inferential Analyses

Table 1 shows the correlations, descriptive statistics, and coefficient alphas for the study variables. As expected, we found a significant negative correlation between P–O fit and turnover intention (r = −.40, p < .01). Furthermore, the moderator of D–A fit correlated negatively with turnover intention (r = −.16, p < .01). Moreover, significant positive correlations were found between P–O fit and work engagement (r = .59, p < .01) and between D–A fit and work engagement (r = .44, p < .01). Finally, work engagement correlated negatively with turnover intention (r = −.51, p < .01).

Mean, Standard Deviation (SD), and Intercorrelations (N = 349)

Hypothesis Testing

Hypothesis 1 stated that perceived P–O fit correlated negatively with the turnover intention of nurses. Hierarchical multiple regression was used to test this hypothesis. Using turnover intention as the dependent variable, we entered the control variables in the first step of the equation. Models 1b and 2b in Table 2 show the regression analysis results for P–O fit. P–O fit was significantly related to turnover intention (β = −.273, p < .001), which verified Hypothesis 1.

Hierarchical Regression Test of the Mediating Role of Work Engagement (N = 349)

Mediating effect of work engagement (Hypothesis 2)

We used Baron and Kenny’s (1986) multistep regression procedure to test for the mediating effects of work engagement. After controlling for job tenure, level of education, and N–S fit, we conducted a three-step analysis as follows: (a) regress the mediator (work engagement) on the independent variable (P–O fit), (b) regress the dependent variable (turnover intention) on the independent variable (P–O fit), and (c) regress the dependent variable (turnover intention) on both the independent (P–O fit) and mediator (work engagement) variables. As shown in Table 2, the linear regression modeling results show a continued significant positive effect of P–O fit on work engagement (β = .453, p < .001) after controlling for the significant effect of job tenure and N–S fit (Model 2a). Next, step 2 (Model 2b) shows that P–O fit retained its significant negative effects on turnover intention (β = −.273, p < .001) after controlling for the significant effect of job tenure and N–S fit. In step 3, both P–O fit and work engagement were included in Model 3b, with estimation results showing work engagement as significant to turnover intention (β = −.327, p < .001) and a lower but still statistically significant P–O fit effect (β = −.125, p < .05). We used a Sobel (1982) test to verify this reduction as statistically significant (z = 5.53, p < .01). Therefore, work engagement partly mediated the effects of P–O fit on turnover intention, which supports Hypothesis 2.

Moderating effect of D–A fit (Hypothesis 3)

To test Hypothesis 3, we reasoned that D–A fit should moderate the relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention. We centered the control, independent, and moderator variables before creating product terms for testing interaction effects and used standardized scores in subsequent analyses (Aiken & West, 1991). Controlling for the effects of demographics, N–S fit, and P–O fit, Model 4 in Table 3 reveals that the interaction of D–A fit with P–O fit relates significantly to turnover intention (β = −.154, p < .01) in the direction originally hypothesized in this study.

Hierarchical Regression Test of the Moderating Role of D–A Fit (N = 349)

To examine the form of this interaction, we followed Cohen, Cohen, West, and Aiken’s (2003) procedures by plotting the regression lines, as shown in Figure 2. The result indicates the relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention as generally negative and slightly stronger and weaker, respectively, for nurses who perceived higher and lower D–A fits. This result supported Hypothesis 3.

Figure 2
Figure 2:
Interactive effects of person–organization (P–O) fit and demand–ability (D–A) fit on turnover intention. High P–O fit = 1 standard deviation above the mean; low P–O fit = 1 standard deviation below the mean.


The findings of this study extend beyond research on the relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention (e.g., Tak, 2011; Wang et al., 2011). Specifically, findings suggest that P–O fit relates negatively to turnover intention and that level of work engagement may partially mediate this relationship. The findings of this study also extend prior research by explaining the D–A fit condition under which P–O fit relates to turnover intention (e.g., Resick et al., 2007). Overall, results indicate that P–O fit relates positively to nurses’ work engagement, regardless of D–A fit. Work engagement, in turn, was shown to relate negatively to turnover intention. Our findings also support the hypothesis that D–A fit moderates the direct relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention. The high D–A fit in these samples significantly strengthened the direct relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention. In summary, the findings of this study offer glimpses into the mechanisms by which P–O fit manifests itself in turnover intention and the boundary conditions surrounding effectiveness.

Theoretical Implications

First, this study provides a motivation mechanism for understanding whether work engagement plays a mediating role between P–O fit and the turnover intention of nurses. The findings suggest that, when nurses perceive an appropriate P–O fit, turnover intention is suppressed because of greater work engagement. Whereas a significant amount of practical literature addresses the effects of P–O fit on organizations, organizational behavior research has done little to explain how and why P–O fit predicts the turnover intention of nurses. This study is the first to introduce work engagement into fit theory using intermediary processes to explore how P–O fit affects turnover intention. Therefore, our study contributes significantly to the literature on fit theory and employee engagement in the hospital workplace.

Second, this study provides evidence that D–A fit positively moderates the relationship between P–O fit and turnover intention. The interaction plot suggests that, at very low P–O fit levels, a high D–A fit will result in higher turnover intention than lower D–A fit. This finding highlights an important implication for the fit literature: apart from main effects, the interactions between P–O and D–A fits may have differential effects on the turnover intention of employees.

Finally, this study applied a Western research context to a research sample of nurses belonging to the Eastern collectivist cultural context. This extends and confirms the theoretical model of fit theory in which one type of fit buffers a misfit on another type (Jansen & Kristof-Brown, 2006) and the theoretical model of work engagement theory (Kahn, 1990), both originally constructed within the Western context of individualism and liberalism. Results of this empirical study support both conceptual models. Therefore, this study benefits work to generalize both fit and work engagement theories.

Practical Implications

In Taiwan’s medical system, high nurse turnover rate is an important reason for low medical-care quality. Because P–O fit is significantly negatively related to turnover intention in our study, nursing departments’ directors and head nurses should ensure that details of their organization’s culture are presented as explicitly as possible using internal publications, executive presentations, socialization programs, and/or formal training courses to increase nurses’ perceived P–O fit (Erdogan & Baurer, 2005).

Second, considering high P–O fit, we found that nurses’ perceived P–O fit was slightly negatively related to turnover intention when nurses perceived low D–A fit. Therefore, if hospital managers find that their nurses’ skills fail to meet given job requirements, hospitals should offer necessary training to increase nurses’ perception of D–A fit. In addition, hospitals should constantly review and revise their selection tools to successfully select nurses with high D–A fit (Chang et al., 2010).

Third, we provide a better understanding of the antecedents and outcomes of work engagement. Kahn (1990) suggested that engagement is rooted in the psychological conditions of meaningfulness, safety, and availability and that perception of self and work context cause these psychological conditions. We applied this framework and identified P–O fit as an important antecedent of engagement. Employees’ work engagement has been treated as a factor to lower employee turnover intentions. Therefore, hospital management should focus on developing nurses’ positive psychological states (i.e., work engagement) using organizational human-resource management policies to decrease nurses’ intentions to change jobs. For example, hospitals may foster congruence between employee work values and organizational value systems through recruitment and organizational socialization. Conformity between employee and organizational values strengthens nurses’ work engagement and consequently lowers turnover intention.

Finally, although most hospitals operate as medical service businesses, professional nurses are expected to operate according to the core concept of “patients first.” This dichotomy creates conflict between the value systems of nurses on the one hand and hospitals on the other (i.e., low P–O fit). Value conflict is one of the key factors in decreased work engagement (Maslach & Leiter, 1998). Thus, to minimize incongruence in values, hospital management should encourage nurses to identify with and accept the hospitals’ values by familiarizing nurses with human-resources practices (e.g., career management and guidance, training systems, the provision of internal information, internal psychological reward mechanisms). Personal perception and internalization may gradually transform nurses’ values into behavioral will and thus align organizations and individuals within a basic value framework in which nurses have better work engagement, resulting in higher rates of retention.

Possible Limitations and Future Research

The cross-sectional field survey design used in this study limits causal-relationship credibility. Longitudinal designs (experimental or time-series designs) are usually preferred over cross-sectional designs to establish causal relationships. Moreover, as this study’s data were collected from a single source, common method variance (CMV) may bias results, producing inflated correlations among the variables of interest (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003). We suggest that, to minimize the potential for interference from CMV, future studies use longitudinal designs to evaluate cross-lagged effects between various research variables in addition to varied methods (self-evaluation or other-evaluation) to measure research variables. This design should reduce the potential influence of CMV on measures (Spector, 2006).

This study explored the relationships among P–O fit, D–A fit, and outcome variables. Given the importance of work teams in organizations, the degree of fit between employees and the work environment (e.g., person–supervisor, person–group, and person–vocation fit) also plays an important role in determining employees’ attitudes and behaviors (Anderson, Lievens, van Dam, & Ryan, 2004). Thus, we suggest that future studies (1) explore the effects of various person–environment fits on work engagement and on turnover intention and (2) clarify the contrastive relationships among, and incremental validity of, different person–environment fits and work attitudes or behaviors.

Furthermore, we used quantitative research methods to explore the role of nurses’ work engagement in a hypothetical model (a mediating model). Other types of qualitative studies may also shed light on the phenomenon of employee engagement. For example, where possible, researchers may conduct structured interviews (Patton, 2002) with employees who have voluntarily left or are leaving an organization and interpret findings from an employee-engagement perspective. Such studies may provide more direct insights into the use of employee engagement as an organizational-outcome variable. The convergence of such research methods is necessary to increase the external validity of this research.

Finally, we used only turnover intention as the dependent variable. Future studies may use actual turnover, job performance, and mental health as longitudinal data to determine the relationship between the roles of various types of fit and attitudinal or behavioral outcomes.


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person–organization fit; demand–ability fit; work engagement; turnover intention

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