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From person-environment misfit to job burnout: theoretical extensions

Jiajin Tong (Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing, China.)
Lei Wang (Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing, China.)
Kaiping Peng (Department of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States.)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explore the psychological mechanisms explaining the impact of fit on burnout based on meta-theories.


A total of 199 employees participated in three waves with three-week intervals. Person-organization fit and person-job fit were measured in Wave 1, psychological-mechanism variables were measured in Wave 2, and burnout was measured in Wave 3.


Person-organization fit and person-job fit related to three components of job burnout via multiple psychological mechanisms.

Research limitations/implications

The findings help to extend existing theories on fit and burnout literature. The research advances the understanding of psychological mechanisms about how misfit leads to job burnout. It helps stimulate research interest to further investigation on their relationships and effects with other variables besides burnout. It also helps understand the construct of burnout.

Practical implications

For individuals, person-job fit should be achieved as well as person-organization fit to avoid burnout. Measuring organization-based self-esteem (OBSE), psychological capital, and role conflict may help employers to recognize early signs of burnout and to develop effective interventions to reduce burnout. The findings help better understand the value of P-E fit and effective interventions in burnout.

Social implications

It helps employees better select job and organization and adapt to the job and organization, reduce management cost, and keep mental health.


Two original contributions are that: it adopted three meta-theories to comprehensively investigate the psychological mechanisms explaining how misfit leads to burnout; and it integrated individual and environmental factors of burnout into one fit-based model, which treats the person as a subject rather than a passive agent.



This work is supported by NSFC Grant No. 91224008 and Key Projects in the National Science & Technology Pillar Program of China (No. 2009BAI77B04). The authors would like to sincerely express the gratitude to all those who helped during the writing of this paper. The authors thank the brilliant suggestions from the editor and the reviewers. The authors would also thank Tim Beneke and Tina Arnold for their work in editing the manuscript.


Tong, J., Wang, L. and Peng, K. (2015), "From person-environment misfit to job burnout: theoretical extensions", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 169-182.



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