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Title: Towards an understanding of the psychological construct of misfit : a grounded theory study
Author: Hollyoak, B. M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7968 810X
Awarding Body: Coventry University
Current Institution: Coventry University
Date of Award: 2016
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The subject of a person's perceived degree of organisational fit is well known because if someone considers that they fit in well not only with the job but with the many dimensions within the work environment, then they will feel happy, content and more productive. The topic of someone's perceived misfit, however, has not garnered much research within the fit field despite anecdotal information indicating negative outcomes such as anxiety, depression, silent rebellion and disconnect with work, thus a decline in the productive input. Misfit research needs to look at the psychological aspect in order to understand what it is, but the field is in its infancy and researchers know very little about how misfit comes about and how individuals within the workplace experience, and indeed how they cope. Moreover, the current fit and related literature seem to view misfit as an absence of fit or as the opposite to fit, and as such offers only a few definitions. The aim of this study is to present an understanding of the misfit construct from the aspect of the sufferer to the experience so that a well-founded foundation is available for future research. The findings include the identification, description, and analysis of two forms of workplace misfit: social misfit and maverickism. An affective state of misfit is more than an absence of fit and through this study that gap in the literature will be addressed as well as opening a look into the psychological state of misfit that a person experiences. This has been represented in a conceptual model that explains the misfit cognition process, its antecedents, external and internal inputs and the resultant mental state arrivals, as well as consequences to self and the organisation. The study, answers a call from the fit discipline for in-depth studies that take an inside-out approach to studying misfit from the individuals' perspective. To do so required a qualitative research design that used a constructivist grounded theory methodology approach. The sample set was made up of six proclaimed misfits who were interviewed but in the absence of many coming forward a unique and innovative approach was taken within the fit field, that of Netnography (the application of ethnographic methods to explore data off digitally enabled media). To go to where misfits were expressing voice in an unabridged fashion, and capture for analysis what they had to say from open fora Web-based English-speaking discussion blogs. Misfit was found to be a very personal experience based not around the job or relational demographics such as age, race, sexuality or gender but connected to people's desire to be part of a workgroup to affirm their most basic sense of self-identity and self-worth. The most powerful emotions and feelings come through this study were those connected to the perceptions or actual act of ostracism from the immediate work group, which lead on to a debilitating state of social defeat and the subsequent increased risk of psychotic symptoms and disorders. People coped as best they could with input from referent others so that they could feel as if they do fit in. If that didn't work out, then to escape the emotional andpsychological distress of a sense of misfit people sought to leave the organisation, but that was always a viable option because of their level of continuance commitment or a poor job market. At worst, people suffering from a sense of misfit say that they were forced to leave the organisation. If people were able to stay in employ they did one of two things; 1) stay, put up a façade of fitting in under the support of coping behaviours or 2) to mentally reframe their sense of misfit into that of a 'socially acceptable' position of maverikism so that they could be seen as purposefully standing apart and thus unique and special. Whatever the outcome, a sense of misfit brings with it emotional pain and distress with reduced input from unhappy people and is an aspect that could do well to be addressed through revised management practice and support systems. This study has been able to confirm Schneider's 1987 proposition that it is indeed 'the people who make the place' and that organisational culture and the power of groups within it have a powerful influence on a person's sense of fit or misfit.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available