Poster Paper: Does Person-Environment Fit Reduce Employee's Perception of Organizational Goal Ambiguity?

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 12:00 PM
Liberty A & B (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Rusi Sun, Shuyang Peng and Sanjay K. Pandey, Rutgers University - Newark

The clarification of organizational goals is widely assumed to be an effective strategy for improving organizational outcomes and employee’s work related attitudes in the public sector. Even though the significance of reducing goal ambiguity has been widely accepted, research on its antecedents is scant.  On the one side, a number of existing studies focus on the reasons leading to goal ambiguity at the organizational level. While these studies have value, they are not able to answer why even in the same public organization, some employees report higher goal ambiguity than others. On the other side, although a few have proposed that individual disposition and personal traits might contribute to the variance of public employee’s cognition of organizational goals (Pandey and Rainey, 2006), these models need to be elaborated further and subjected to empirical testing. Therefore, in this research, we turn our attention to the perceived organizational goal ambiguity and examine  the combined influence of employee’s individual characteristics and their working environment. We propose that employee perceptions of organizational goal ambiguity can be advanced by exploring the compatibility between person and their environment. This is because the day-to-day job-level experiences shape how employees view organizational goals. Based on survey questionnaires from employees of public organizations or non-profit organizations in Northern New Jersey, we test our hypotheses. Findings suggest that employee’s cognition of organizational goal ambiguity varies across situations when employees are congruent with other members in the working teams (person-team fit), competent for the job requirements (person-job fit) or compatible with supervisors (person-supervisor fit). Moreover, their reported level of role ambiguity, affective commitment and public service motivation is also related to perceived level of goal ambiguity even after controlling for other critical factors. Thus, our findings have both theoretical and practical implications for research on goal setting programs as well as the management practice in the public organizations.