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Improving job fit for mission workers by including expatriate and local job experts in job specification

Jennifer M. Manson (Poverty Research Group, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)
Stuart C. Carr (Poverty Research Group, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




International development policy proposes that reducing poverty depends on alignment of international aid projects with local priorities, which would imply a role for local as well as expatriate job experts in job selection processes. This paper aims to explore whether person‐job “fit” with both local and expatriate job specification relates to work performance indicators.


Mission organizations and their individual workers play an influential role in poverty reduction projects. In Study I, N=70 host nation missionaries, i.e. local job experts (n=22), expatriate mission leaders (n=25) and expatriate mission workers (n=23) provided mean panel ratings of the importance of SHL's Universal Competencies, alongside religious values, for mission jobs. In Study II, N=130 individual expatriate mission workers also provided ratings of the same set of competencies for mission jobs and rated themselves on these competencies. Each individual worker's profile was assessed for “fit” with competencies identified by the panels in Study I. Individuals were also measured on the criteria of job satisfaction, work engagement and satisfaction with life.


From Study I, we learned that local and expatriate ratings differed significantly, indicating different job criteria, as policy suggests. In Study II, degree of fit with local and expatriate priorities each predicted significant amounts of variance in job satisfaction, engagement and life satisfaction. Hence at an everyday behavioural level, alignment with local job experts' perspectives on required competencies played a role in aid worker motivation.


Whilst recognising the limits of self‐report, this paper applies fit theory to poverty reduction projects. Discussed are the findings' relevance for psychological theory, methods and interventions in poverty reduction work.



Manson, J.M. and Carr, S.C. (2011), "Improving job fit for mission workers by including expatriate and local job experts in job specification", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 465-484.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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