The effects of work environment on the personality-performance relationship: an exploratory study.
Research to date has focused on direct relationships between personality and employee outcomes in organizations. This study explored the potential mediating effects of work environment preferences on relationships between Big Five personality dimensions and employee performance and commitment. One hundred and fifteen subjects in organizations in the western United States participated in the study. Results indicated that goal-oriented work environments fully mediated the significant direct relationships between the Big Five factor of conscientiousness on employee performance and extraversion on employee commitment. These findings suggest that work environment may play a predominant role in employee performance and commitment.

Work environment (Analysis)
Workers (Evaluation)
Accounting firms (Management)
Accounting firms (Analysis)
Westerman, James W.
Simmons, Bret L.
Pub Date:
Name: Journal of Managerial Issues Publisher: Pittsburg State University - Department of Economics Audience: Academic; Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business; Human resources and labor relations Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2007 Pittsburg State University - Department of Economics ISSN: 1045-3695
Date: Summer, 2007 Source Volume: 19 Source Issue: 2
Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Product Code: 8930000 Accounting & Auditing Services NAICS Code: 54121 Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services SIC Code: 8721 Accounting, auditing, & bookkeeping
Accession Number:
Full Text:
"When in Rome, live as the Romans do: when elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere."

~St. Ambrose (c. 339-97)

The advice, given by the Bishop of Milan to St. Augustine in the 4th Century, may seem an esoteric tangent to the issue of employee performance in organizations. However, as we try to refine our approach to understanding the relationships between individuals and their performance outcomes in organizations, the context of such interactions should not be underestimated. Although examination of direct linkages between employee personality dimensions and performance outcomes is receiving increasing support (Hurtz and Donovan, 2000; Motowidlo and Van Scotter, 1994; Van Scotter and Motowidlo, 1996), what remains less clear is the interaction and influence of the context or place on this relationship. Are dimensions of personality directly responsible for employee success in organizations, or do preferences employees have for factors in their work environment play a more significant role in the relationship? Although selecting employees on the basis of individual dispositions may have a positive impact on employee attitudes and performance, personality-based employee selection processes are notoriously inaccurate (Arthur et al., 2001). And considering the increasingly large spans of control and reduced contact between employees and managers in work situations (De Meuse et al., 2001; Henricks, 2001), an over-reliance on employee selection processes as a means of improving performance and commitment may be a less effective approach than effectively managing work environments. In addition, many managers do not have much flexibility in their staffing patterns in the short-term, and managers must "deal with the hand they are dealt." In such situations, controlling the work environment is often the most feasible short-term option, beyond skill training, for improving outcomes.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between personality, work environment preferences, and the outcome variables, performance and commitment. We develop hypotheses for and test the model presented in Figure I. In developing our model, we begin with a discussion of the relationship between personality and performance, followed by a literature review of the relationships between Big Five personality factors, work environment, and employee performance and commitment. We then develop and test hypotheses suggesting that the personality-employee outcome relationship is mediated by work environment preferences.


Personality, Work Environment, and Performance

According to Schneider (1987), "the people make the place," and people are differentially attracted to, differentially selected, and differentially leave organizations. Costa, McCrae, and Holland (1984) assert that people begin this process by selecting into vocations that match their personalities. Similarity between a job applicant's values and the values of recruiters and employees within organizations has been shown to result in improved work attitudes and increased performance after organizational entry (Judge and Cable, 1997; Chatman, 1991). Research by Cable and Judge (1994) and Judge and Cable (1997) provides evidence that applicants pro-actively choose such organizational environments based on individual preferences, as they found that job candidates seek organizations with reward systems and cultures that fit their personalities. Of even greater significance is the possibility that the relationship between personality characteristics and specific work environments may influence performance (Hurtz and Donovan, 2000).

The general trend in the research has been towards increased optimism regarding the utility of personality tests in personnel selection with the goal of ultimately enhancing job performance (Behling, 1998; Hogan et al., 1996; Hurtz and Donovan, 2000; Mount and Barrick, 1995). The general consensus has been that personality holds utility as a predictor of job performance, specifically the conscientiousness dimension (Behling, 1998). Research has also provided evidence of linkages between personality dimensions with narrower facets of performance. Research by Motowidlo and Van Scotter (1994; Van Scotter and Motowidlo, 1996) suggests that personality has a larger impact on contextual (as opposed to task-oriented) dimensions of performance; specifically, extraversion and agreeableness were more strongly related to interpersonal facilitation. Hurtz and Donovan (2000) found that emotional stability and agreeableness were also significant predictors of interpersonal facilitation, and emotional stability was a predictor of task performance.

However, a number of different studies have begun to illustrate that the effects of personality on performance may be more indirect than bivariate. Recent research indicates the intervening effects of performance expectancies, self-efficacy, and goal-setting on the relationship between conscientiousness and performance (Barrick et al., 1993; Gellatly, 1996; Martocchio and Judge, 1997). These studies illuminate a significant gap in the literature--that the research to date has disproportionately focused on the direct linkage between personality and performance, and "... if we are to truly understand the relationship between personality and job performance, we must move beyond this bivariate relationship and toward specifying the intervening variables that link these domains" (Hurtz and Donovan, 2000: 877). Although specific personality traits like conscientiousness (Behling, 1998) have been linked to a variety of employee outcomes, what remains unclear is the nature of the relationship between personality, work environment preferences, and such outcomes. It is possible that personality is primarily expressed in individual preferences for work environments, and that the direct effects of personality on workplace outcomes are fully or partially mediated by such preferences. Thus, we may find that specific work environment preferences may be more substantial predictors of employee outcomes in organizations than Big Five personality factors.

This study utilizes Barrick and Mount's (1991) Big Five factors of personality, and Moos' (1994) conceptualization of work environments as the theoretical bases for the constructs of personality and work environments. Barrick and Mount's (1991) Big Five factors represent a widely accepted approach to conceptualizing personality, as meta-analyses consistently support the construct validity of this approach (Mount and Barrick, 1995; Salgado, 1997; Tett et al., 1991). The Big Five factors consist of an individual's openness to experience (proactive seeking, toleration for and exploration of the unfamiliar), conscientiousness (thorough approach, hard-working, organized), extraversion (the need for stimulation, desire for activity levels with interpersonal interaction), agreeableness (cooperative nature, likeability), and emotional stability, (calm and secure, low in anxiety).

According to Moos (1981), work environment preferences can be measured using three dimensions of work environment settings: system maintenance, goal orientation, and relationship dimensions. System maintenance refers to how orderly and organized the work setting is, how clear it is in its expectations, and how much control it maintains. Goal orientation assesses the degree to which an environment encourages or stifles growth through providing for participation in decision making and autonomy, maintaining a task orientation, and providing job challenge and expectations for success and accomplishment. The relationship dimension measures the degree of interpersonal interaction in a work environment, such as the social communication exchanges and cohesion among workers, and the friendship and support provided by co-workers and management. These work environment preferences have been shown to affect individuals' personal functioning at work (Billings and Moos, 1982). Examination of work environment preferences can help identify organizational factors that may be problematic, and can guide interventions aimed at reducing employee stress in a variety of work settings.


For the reasons which follow, we believe that the personality factors--conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extraversion--will work specifically through goal orientation and relationship work environment preferences on their way to influencing job performance and commitment. The personality factors openness to experience and emotional stability will manifest themselves in relationship and system maintenance work environment preferences, and through their influence on such preferences will affect job performance and commitment.

Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Extraversion and Employee Performance

Conscientiousness is the personality trait most strongly linked to performance outcomes. Two recent meta-analyses provide strong linkages between conscientiousness and employee outcomes. Salgado (2003) found that, of the Big Five dimensions, conscientiousness was the strongest predictor of job performance. Judge and Ilies (2002) also found that conscientiousness was a strong and consistent predictor of performance motivation. Conscientious individuals are more likely to be orderly and decisive, be autonomous in goal-setting behavior, show greater ability to cope with time management issues and stress, and generally strive for continuous performance improvement (Judge and Ilies, 2002; Thoreson et al., 2004). Conscientiousness has been shown in individual studies to predict performance in such diverse settings as student GPA (Nguyen et al., 2005), sales outcomes (Thoresen et al., 2004), and performance in manufacturing teams (Morgeson et al., 2005).

However, the potential influence of the mediating effects of work environments on the conscientiousness-performance relationship has been hinted at in several recent empirical studies. Research by Witt, Burke, Barrick, and Mount (2002) and Witt and Ferris (2003) found that low levels of social skill on the part of conscientious employees removed the significant relationship with performance. This result indicates the potential importance of the interpersonal interaction-oriented relationship dimension of work environments as a mediator in the conscientiousness-performance relationship.

The importance of the goal achievement dimension and maintaining a task orientation in work environments on the conscientiousness-performance relationship has been indicated in research by Stewart, Fulmer, Barrick, and Hollenbeck (2005), whereby conscientious employees were shown to focus on task role behavior in their pursuit of team performance outcomes. The relationship between conscientiousness and increased commitment also seems to have a goal achievement mediator, as Moon (2001) found that conscientiousness operationalized through achievement-striving was associated with an escalation of commitment.

The relationship between the personality dimension of agreeableness and performance has also received some recent support. Agreeableness may lead to enhanced customer contact and interactions, and improved relationships and communication with managers. Agreeable employees may be viewed as more trustworthy, and as possessing higher levels of integrity, which can aid them in customer relationships and in access to valued information (Costa and McCrae, 1995; Sackett and DeVote, 2001). Hogan and Holland (2003) report the meta-analytic validity of agreeableness to specific job criteria performance outcomes to be significant (.34).

An employees' agreeableness represents an interpersonal orientation of likeability and cooperativeness that would likely prefer environments with an emphasis on relationships. Nikolaou's (2003) study of 227 employees indicated that agreeableness was related to performance in occupations that had high levels of interpersonal interaction in the work environment, and Stevens and Ash (2001) found that agreeableness was related to an employee's preference for participative styles of management. The importance of relationship-oriented work environments has also been demonstrated by LePine and Van Dyne's (2001) research, whereby agreeableness was more strongly related to cooperative behavior than to task performance, and by Witt, Kacmar, Carlson, and Zivnuska (2002) whose results showed that the interaction between agreeableness and politics explained a significant amount of variance in contextual performance. Agreeableness has also been positively associated with employee commitment, predicting expatriates' termination decisions (Caligiuri, 2000).

Extraversion, characterized by personalities with a need for stimulation and high externally-oriented activity levels, was found to be the most important correlate of predicted job performance of all the Big Five personality dimensions in a study of managers from both the United States and Japan (Robie et al., 2005). The levels of assertiveness, positive emotionality, activity and sociability among extraverted employees can be beneficial in terms of performance outcomes. Further, extraverts are often motivated by external rewards and recognition in the form of status and rewards at work that can lead to improved performance outcomes (Barrick et al., 2002). Hogan and Holland's (2003) meta-analysis supported a relationship between extraversion and performance on specific job criteria of .35.

The work environment dimension of goal achievement may play a significant mediating role in the relationship between extraversion and employee outcomes. In examining the ratings of performance in a sales job, Barrick et al. (2002) found that an individual's striving for status and accomplishment mediated the extraversion-performance relationship. And Barry and Stewart (1997) noted that extraverts induce perceptions of their contributions to group outcomes by focusing on providing task-related inputs. Such task- and accomplishment-oriented efforts indicate the importance to extraverts of goal achievement-oriented work environments.

Extraverts also may seek out work environments with high levels of relationship orientation as a result of their craving for interpersonal interactions. Research by Van Vianen and De Dreu (2001) demonstrated that high levels of extraversion contributed positively to social cohesion, and did not directly affect team performance. Similarly, LePine and Van Dyne's (2001) results indicated a stronger relationship between extraversion and cooperative behavior than task performance. And the relationship between extraversion and employee commitment and intention to remain was indicated by Caligiuri (2000).

In summary, our review of the literature suggests that the personality factors conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extraversion manifest themselves in preferences for goal- and relationship-oriented work environments, which in turn affect employee performance and commitment. As a result, we propose the following hypothesis:

H1: The significant, positive relationship between conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extraversion with employee performance and commitment will be partially mediated by work environment preferences for relationship and goal orientation.

Openness to Experience and Employee Performance

Openness to experience has been described as an employee's desire to be intellectually curious, imaginative, and open to possibilities. We often hear of business coveting employees who can "think outside the box" or can adapt and change to solve complex problems in a continuously evolving work environment (Burke and Witt, 2002). It appears that the research on the openness to experience-performance relationship has reinforced the idea that dynamic work environments in which learning and adaptation are required tend to enhance the openness-performance link. Bing and Lounsbury (2000) found that openness predicted variance in job performance above and beyond all of the other dimensions of the Big Five. However, the sample consisted of employees in U.S.-based Japanese manufacturing firms, of whom a large amount of employee training, adaptability, and change were required. Generally, "the research indicates strong linkages between openness to experience and enhanced performance in such learning and adaptation-oriented environments as decision making (LePine et al., 2000; Colquitt et al., 2002) and training proficiency (Salgado, 1997). This may indicate a negative relationship with the mediating work environment dimension of system maintenance, which emphasizes control, order, and organization. An impatience with highly structured systems among highly open employees was indirectly indicated in research by Kickul and Neuman (2000) who found that openness to experience was not directly related to performance, but was predictive of emergent leadership behaviors in teams.

Employees with high levels of openness to experience may also benefit from highly relationship-oriented work environments, as Nikolaou (2003) found that openness to experience was related to performance only for occupations involving higher levels of social interaction. The relationship between openness to experience and employee commitment may also be mediated by relationship dimensions of work environments. In a three-wave longitudinal study of employees, openness was associated with higher levels of proactive socialization behavior and relationship building, which were related to employee commitment outcomes of turnover intentions and actual turnover (Wanberg and Kammeyer-Mueller, 2000).

H2: The significant relationship between openness to experience and employee performance and commitment will be partially mediated by work environment preferences for higher levels of relationship, and lower levels of system maintenance.

Emotional Stability and Employee Performance

People with high levels of neuroticism (representing the negative pole of emotional stability) have been described as depressed, insecure, and anxious. These are traits which would not facilitate effective job performance, and Barrick and Mount (1991) have argued that such individuals are often selected out of the labor pool altogether. It should not be surprising that in the Judge and Ilies (2002) meta-analysis, emotional stability was the strongest and most consistent correlate of performance motivation. A similar result was obtained in a meta-analysis of European data (Salgado, 1997). Emotional stability has also been shown to positively and significantly predict academic performance (Nguyen et al., 2005) and turnover intentions (Caligiuri, 2000). Further, a meta-analysis conducted by Frye (2001) suggests that neuroticism is the latent construct underlying lower levels of self-esteem, lower self-efficacy, an external locus of control, and lower job satisfaction.

The impact of emotional stability/ neuroticism seems to be related to the ability to form and maintain positive relationships in one's work environment. Van Vianen and De Dreu (2001) found that high levels of emotional stability contributed to social cohesion in teams, and high levels of neuroticism predict anger and neglect in relationships (Barta and Kiene, 2005). We hypothesize that the relationship between emotional stability and employee performance and commitment is mediated by the relationship work environment dimension.

H3: The significant, positive relationship between emotional stability and employee performance and commitment will be partially mediated by work environment preferences for relationship dimensions.



Subjects consisted of employees of eight different organizations, representing financial analysts, direct-sales representatives, telemarketers, information systems specialists, customer service personnel, and stock clerks. The subjects were chosen using quota sampling, as every employee in the position analyzed within each organization was included as a subject. All subjects were located in the western United States. A total of 115 subjects participated in the study, and a response rate of 92% yielded 106 usable responses. Of the subjects who responded to the study, 56% were male, 86% Caucasian, 40% were married, and they possessed an average tenure of 2.88 years with the organization. A wide range of organizations and positions were chosen by the authors to provide greater heterogeneity in both job context preferences and personalities in the sample. All of the surveys were administered under the supervision of the authors and completed by subjects while they were at work, which improved the response rate. Managers were provided a summary of the results of employee perceptions of the work environment to encourage participation in the research.

Data Collection and Measures

The data collection procedure consisted of two surveys. The first survey was administered to the direct supervisor or manager of the employee to collect ratings of each subject employee's performance. The performance measure used was the Minnesota Satisfactoriness Survey (MSS) (Gibson et al., 1977). The strength of the MSS is its broad definition of performance, including assessments of the quality and quantity of an employee's work, and their overall dependability and promotability. The twenty-eight item instrument asks managers to rate each employee's efforts and outcomes in comparison to the rest of the work group. Studies indicate that the reliability coefficients for the MSS range from .69 to .95, with a median of .87, and the MSS has demonstrated validity in longitudinal examinations of tenure and promotions across a variety of occupations (Gibson et al., 1977).

The second survey, administered to the employees, included three instruments. The first was the Work Environment Scale (WES) (Moos, 1994), which was used to measure subjects' perceptions of their ideal work environment. The WES was chosen to measure work environment preferences as it utilizes a broad approach to defining work environments in three distinct dimensions: system maintenance (referring to how orderly and organized the work setting is), goal orientation (the degree of job challenge and task orientation), and relationship dimensions (desired levels of social interaction, support and cohesion among workers). The WES has shown validity in predicting outcomes with employees in health care, military, and correctional facility environments (Moos, 1994). The WES consists of ninety statements such as "The work is really challenging" and "People take an interest in each other," which subjects rate as either true or false in representing their work environment preferences. Reliabilities of the WES (using Cronbach's Alpha) have varied from .69 to .83 on the various subscales (Moos, 1994).

The second instrument in the employee survey, the NEO-FFI Form S, represents the Big Five personality measure (Costa and McCrae, 1991). Validity of the NEO-FFI's five factors has been indicated across a large number of studies (Costa and McCrae, 1995; McCrae and Costa, 1987). The third measure in the employee survey examined employee commitment. O'Reilly and Chatman's (1986) psychological attachment instrument was used, as it provides a parsimonious measure of overall commitment that has been effectively used in research linking individual preferences with organizational attitudinal outcomes.


The results of the data analyses provide support for the importance of goal-orientation on the personality-performance relationship. Table 1 provides the means, standard deviations, and correlation matrix for the study variables. SPSS hierarchical/ stepwise multiple regression was used to test the hypotheses. The process for detecting mediated relationships in hierarchical regression recommended by Baron and Kenny (1986) was used to test the hypothesized relationships, including the role of mediators, as specified in Figure I. As a result, our analytical approach proceeded under an assumption of linearity of the relationships between the variables. Table 2 includes the results of the three regression models that examined each of the three hypotheses. The first model examined the relationship between the independent variables, the Big Five personality dimensions, and the mediators (the work environment preference dimensions of relationship, goal orientation, and system maintenance). A separate regression equation was used for each work environment dimension. The second regression model looked at the relationships between the independent variables (the Big Five factors) and the outcome variables of employee performance and commitment. The third regression model examined the relationship between the Big Five independent variables and the outcome variables of performance and commitment in the presence of the work environment mediating variables.


The results of the first model regressions indicated that three of the Big Five factors were significant predictors of work environment preferences (see Table 2). Extraversion, conscientiousness, and emotional stability were all significant predictors of a goal orientation preference, and agreeableness was a significant predictor of a preference for system maintenance. The second model regressions indicated significant and positive relationships between two of the Big Five personality factors and the outcome variables. Conscientiousness was a significant predictor of employee performance, and extraversion indicated a significant relationship with employee commitment. In the third model, where both the personality and work environment dimensions were included to assess mediating effects, the work environment dimension of goal orientation was the only variable that maintained a significant relationship with employee performance and commitment. All of the personality dimensions were nonsignificant for both outcome variables when the work environment measures were included in the equation.

The results of these analyses provide partial support for hypotheses 1-3. Although the system maintenance and relationship dimensions of work environments were not significant factors mediating the personality and performance/commitment relationships, goal orientation was a significant outcome of all three hypothesized personality dimensions (extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness). Goal orientation was also the only significant predictor of performance in the full (third) model, and fully mediated the effects of conscientiousness on performance. In addition, the effects of extraversion on commitment were non-significant when the goal orientation dimension of work environments was included in the analysis.


To more fully understand the degree to which the "people make the place," this study examined the relationship between individual personality, work environment preferences, and performance and commitment in organizations. The results suggest that a specific "place" variable--an employee's work environment preference for goal orientation--plays a predominant role in performance and commitment outcomes. Goal orientation fully mediated the significant direct relationship between conscientiousness and performance, and the significant direct relationship between extraversion and commitment was removed when preferences for goal-oriented work environments were included in the analyses. Agreeableness was significantly related to both goal orientation and system maintenance, but these relationships did not translate into either performance or commitment. Neither the personality characteristics openness and emotional stability, nor the work environment preference for relationships had a significant effect on performance and commitment.

The results suggest that agreeableness, extraversion, and conscientiousness may combine to form a preference for work environments that offer high levels of goal orientation. Thus, the effect of personality on performance and commitment has a situational context; it does not occur in a vacuum. Challenging goals may communicate high levels of confidence in the abilities of employees and increase self-efficacy (and performance), and these positive feelings may also manifest themselves in enhanced employee commitment (Whittington et al., 2004). If managers provide goal-oriented work environments to individuals with these desirable personality characteristics, they should reap the benefits of enhanced performance and commitment.

The ability to attract, keep, and motivate high-performers is becoming increasingly important in today's competitive organizational environments. The results of this study indicate that an over-reliance on employee selection processes may be misguided, and the development of goal-oriented work environments may be a more effective means of improving employee performance and commitment. This may be particularly relevant in work environments where managers have very large spans of control which restrict them from frequent and direct contact with employees. Strickland and Galimba (2001) found that goals provide structure to ambiguous situations, reducing the effects of cognitive interference on task performance. Work environments can provide social cues to organizational members on how to act appropriately, and employees tend to conform to such expectations to receive social approval from their peers (Salancik and Pfeffer, 1978; Schneider, 1975). Thus, if a work environment develops a strong goal orientation, employees are more likely to align their individual goal orientations with the norms of the work environment to maintain harmony with their surroundings (Neal et al., 2000). As climate scholars generally identify managers as the primary architects of group member climate perceptions (e.g., Naumann and Bennett, 2000), the results of our research indicate the potential importance of leaders in focusing on the development of goal-oriented work environments to achieve enhanced performance and commitment. Whittington et al. (2004) found that goal setting enhanced the direct relationship between transformational leadership and employee commitment and performance, and concluded that goal-oriented environments provide clarification, direction, focus, and longer-term perspective needed to translate transformational leadership effectively into performance. Future research could examine the specific influence of leaders in the form of behavioral modeling and leader-member exchange on the personality--work environment--performance relationship.

The results of this study also have implications for managing employee attitudes. Given the consistency of employees' job attitudes, the significant relationship between goal-oriented work environments and commitment enhances the argument that employers should do more to try to structure work environments in a positive way so that work is a more satisfying and rewarding experience. Although selecting employees on the basis of favorable and relatively stable individual dispositions may have a favorable impact on employee attitudes and performance, work situations are within the control of most managers. Our research suggests that unfavorable work situations can directly impact employee performance regardless of personality predispositions, whereas the development of supportive work environments can have a direct and positive affect on employees. Following the recommendations of research by Luthans and Sommer (2005) and Tata and Prasad (2004), future studies should examine the effectiveness of human resource departments functioning as strategic partners in creating performance-oriented work climates and team self-management contexts to aid in the adaptation towards increasing worker autonomy and larger spans of control in contemporary work environments. Future research could also provide useful information regarding the role of personality and goal-setting work environments on a more comprehensive set of dependent variables that have been linked to personality, such as organizational citizenship behaviors (Neuman and Kickul, 1998), satisfaction (Staw and Cohen-Charash, 2005), and turnover (Jenkins, 1993). It would be helpful to determine if the omission of potential mediators or moderators of the relationships between personality variables and employee performance outcomes in past research has served to enhance the importance of personality relative to contextually-oriented variables.

Potential limitations of this study include the relatively small sample size and the cross-sectional nature of the data in this exploratory study. As a result, generalizeability of the results may be limited. This research also relied on self-report surveys to measure employees' perceptions of their personality, commitment, and work environment preferences, which raises the potential for common method variance. Although the performance outcome measure was collected from managers, future research could utilize multiple rating sources for many of the variables, such as using friends or co-workers to rate personality.

In summary, the primary contribution of this research was the examination of the unique variance contributed by personality and work environment preferences in determining employee performance. The results of this study indicate that the relationship between personality, work environment, and employee outcomes is interrelated and in need of further examination. The significance of employee goal-orientation preferences in fully mediating the relationship between personality and workplace outcomes provides further evidence to support the contention that the relationship between personality and performance may not be bivariate, and that intervening variables play a substantial role. Future research should examine the dimensionality of both personality and outcomes in the workplace to understand the complexities of the relationship.


Arthur Jr., W., D. Woehr and W. Graziano. 2001. "Personality Testing in Employment Settings." Personnel Review 30 (5/6): 657-676.

Baron, R. M. and D. A. Kenny. 1986. "The Moderator-Mediator Variable Distinction in Social Psychological Research: Conceptual, Strategic, and Statistical Considerations." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51 (6) : 1173-1182.

Barrick, M. R. and M. K. Mount. 1991. "The Big Five Personality Dimensions and Job Performance: A Meta-analysis." Personnel Psychology 44: 1-26.

--, --and J. P. Strauss. 1993. "Conscientiousness and Performance of Sales Representatives: Test of the Mediating Effects of Goal Setting." Journal of Applied Psychology 78: 715-722.

--, G. L. Stewart and M. Piotrowski. 2002. "Personality and Job Performance: Test of the Mediating Effects of Motivation among Sales Representatives." Journal of Applied Psychology 87: 43-51.

Barry, B. and G. Stewart. 1997. "Composition, Process, and Performance in Self-managed Groups: The Role of Personality." Journal of Applied Psychology 82 (1): 62-78.

Barta, W. D. and S. M. Kiene. 2005. "Motivations for Infidelity in Heterosexual Dating Couples: The Roles of Gender, Personality Differences, and Socio-Sexual Orientation." Journal of Personality and Social Relationships 22 (3): 339-360.

Behling, O. 1998. "Employee Selection: Will Intelligence and Conscientiousness Do the Job?" Academy of Management Executive 12: 77-86.

Billings, A.G. and R. H. Moos. 1982. "Work Stress and the Stress-buffering Roles of Work and Family Resources." Journal of Occupational Behavior 3:215-232.

Bing, M. N. and J. W. Lounsbury. 2000. "Openness and Job Performance in U.S.-based Japanese Manufacturing Companies." Journal of Business and Psychology 14 (3): 515-523.

Burke, L. and L. Witt. 2002. "Moderators of the Openness to Experience-Performance Relationship." Journal of Managerial Psychology 17 (8): 712-722.

Cable, D. M. and T. A. Judge. 1994. "Pay Preferences and Job Search Decisions: A Person-Organization Fit Perspective." Personnel Psychology 47: 317-348.

Caligiuri, P. M. 2000. "The Big Five Personality Characteristics as Predictors of Expatriate's Desire to Terminate the Assignment and Supervisor-rated Performance." Personnel Psychology 53 (1) : 67-88.

Chatman, J. A. 1991. "Matching People and Organizations: Selection and Socialization in Public Accounting Firms." Administrative Science Quarterly 36: 459-484.

Colquitt, J., J. LePine, J. Hollenbeck, D. Ilgen and L. Sheppard. 2002. "Computer-assisted Communication and Team Decision-making Performance: The Moderating Effect of Openness to Experience." Journal of Applied Psychology 87 (2): 402-410.

Costa, P. T., Jr. and R. R. McCrae. 1995. "Domains and Facets: Hierarchical Personality Assessment Using the Revised NEO Personality Inventory." Journal of Personality Assessment 64: 21-50.

--and--.1991. Neo Five-Factor Inventory Form S. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

--, --and J. L. Holland. 1984. "Personality and Vocational Interests in an Adult Sample." Journal of Applied Psychology 69: 390-400.

De Meuse, K., T. Bergmann and S. Lester. 2001. "An Investigation of the Relational Component of the Psychological Contract across Time, Generation, and Employment Status." Journal of Managerial Issues 13 (1) : 102-118.

Frye, C. M. 2001. The Effect of Emotional Stability on Job Satisfaction: A Meta-analysis. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. June, 2001, Vol. 61 (11-A).

Gellatly, I. R. 1996. "Conscientiousness and Task Performance: Test of a Cognitive Process Model." Journal of Applied Psychology 81: 474-482.

Gibson, D. L., D. J. Weiss, R. V. Dawis and L. H. Lofquist. 1977. "Manual for the Minnesota Importance Questionnaire." Minnesota Studies in Vocational Rehabilitation, XXVIII.

Henricks, M. 2001. "Span Control." Entrepreneur 29 (1): 97-98.

Hogan, J. and B. Holland. 2003. "Using Theory to Evaluate Personality and Job-Performance Relations: A Socioanalytic Perspective." Journal of Applied Psychology 88 (1): 100-112.

Hogan, R., J. Hogan and B. W. Roberts. 1996. "Personality Measurement and Employment Decisions: Questions and Answers." American Psychologist 51: 469-477.

Hurtz, G. and J. Donovan. 2000. "Personality and Job Performance: The Big Five Revisited." Journal of Applied Psychology 85 (6): 869-879.

Jenkins, J. 1993. "Self-monitoring and Turnover: The Impact of Personality on Intent to Leave." Journal of Organizational Behavior 14 (1): 83-91.

Judge, T. A. and D. M. Cable. 1997. "Applicant Personality, Organizational Culture, and Organization Attraction." Personnel Psychology 50: 359-394.

--and R. Ilies. 2002. "Relationship of Personality to Performance Motivation: A Meta-analytic Review." Journal of Applied Psychology 87 (4): 797-807.

Kickul, J. and G. Neuman. 2000. "Emergent Leadership Behaviors: The Function of Personality and Cognitive Ability in Determining Teamwork Performance and KSAs." Journal of Business and Psychology 15 (1): 27-51.

LePine, J., J. Colquitt and A. Erez. 2000. "Adaptability to Changing Task Contexts: Effects of General Cognitive Ability, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience." Personnel Psychology 53 (3): 563-539.

--and L. Van Dyne. 2001. "Voice and Cooperative Behavior as Contrasting Forms of Contextual Performance: Evidence of Differential Relationships with Big Five Personality Characteristics and Cognitive Ability." Journal of Applied Psychology 86 (2): 326-336.

Luthans, K. W. and S. M. Sommer. 2005. "The Impact of High Performance Work on Industry Level Outcomes." Journal of Managerial Issues 17 (3): 327-345.

Martocchio, J. J. and T. A. Judge. 1997. "Relationship between Conscientiousness and Learning in Employee Training: Mediating Influences of Self-deception and Self-efficacy." Journal of Applied Psychology 82: 764-773.

McCrae, R. R. and P. T. Costa. 1987. "Validation of the Five-factor Model of Personality Across Instruments and Observers." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52: 81-90.

Moon, H. 2001. "The Two Faces of Conscientiousness: Duty and Achievement-striving in Escalation of Commitment Dilemmas." Journal of Applied Psychology 86 (3): 533-540.

Moos, R. H. 1994. Work Environment Scale Manual (3rd Ed). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

--. 1981. Work Environment Scale Manual (1st Ed). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Morgeson, F., M. Reider and M. Campion. 2005. "Selecting Individuals in Team Settings: The Importance of Social Skills, Personality Characteristics, and Teamwork Knowledge." Personnel Psychology 58 (3) : 583-611.

Motowidlo, S. J. and J. R. Van Scotter. 1994. "Evidence that Task Performance Should Be Distinguished from Contextual Performance." Journal of Applied Psychology 79: 475-480.

Mount, M. K. and M. R. Barrick. 1995. "The Big Five Personality Dimensions: Implications for Research and Practice in Human Resources Management." Chapter in Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, Vol. 13. Eds. K. M. Rowland and G. Ferris. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. pp. 153-200.

Naumann, S. and N. Bennett. 2000. "A Case for Procedural Justice Climate: Development and Test of a Multilevel Model." Academy of Management Journal 43: 881-889.

Neal, A., M. Griffin and P. Hart. 2000. "The Impact of Organizational Climate on Safety Climate and Individual Behavior." Safety Science 34: 99-109.

Neuman, G. and J. Kickul. 1998. "Organizational Citizenship Behaviors: Achievement Orientation and Personality." Journal of Business and Psychology 13 (2): 263-280.

Nguyen, N. T., L. C. Allen and K. Fraccastoro. 2005. "Personality Predicts Academic Performance: Exploring the Moderating Role of Gender." Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 27 (1) : 105-116.

Nikolaou, I. 2003. "Fitting the Person to the Organization: Examining the Personality-Job Performance Relationship from a New Perspective." Journal of Managerial Psychology 18 (7): 639-648.

O'Reilly, C. A. and J. Chatman. 1986. "Organizational Commitment and Psychological Attachment: The Effects of Compliance, Identification, and Internalization on Pro-social Behavior." Journal of Applied Psychology 20: 241-254.

Robie, C., D. Brown and P. Bly. 2005. "The Big Five in the USA and Japan." Journal of Management Development 24 (8): 720-737.

Sackett, P. R. and C. J. DeVore. 2001. "Counterproductive Behaviors at Work." Chapter in Handbook of Industrial, Work, and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 1. Eds. N. Anderson, D. S. Ones, H. K. Sinangil and C. Viswesvaran. London, UK: Sage. pp. 145-164.

Salancik, G. R. and J. Pfeffer. 1978. "A Social Information Processing Approach to Job Attitudes and Task Design." Administrative Science Quarterly 23: 224-253.

Salgado, J. F. 2003. "Predicting Job Performance using FFM and Non-FFM Personality Measures." Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 76 (3): 323-346.

--1997. "The Five Factor Model of Personality and Job Performance in the European Community." Journal of Applied Psychology 82: 30-43. Schneider, B. 1987. "The People Make the Place." Personnel Psychology 40: 437-454.

--. 1975. "Organizational Climates: An Essay." Personnel Psychology 28: 447-479.

Staw, B. and Y. Cohen-Charash. 2005. "The Dispositional Approach to Job Satisfaction: More Than a Mirage, but not yet an Oasis." Journal of Organizational Behavior 26 (1) : 59-78.

Stevens, C. and R. Ash. 2001. "Selecting Employees for Fit: Personality and Preferred Managerial Style." Journal of Managerial Issues 13 (4): 500-517.

Stewart, G., I. Fulmer, M. Barrick and J. Hollenbeck. 2005. "An Exploration of Member Roles as a Multilevel Linking Mechanism for Individual Traits and Team Outcomes." Personnel Psychology 58 (2): 343-365.

Strickland, O. J. and M. Galimba. 2001. "Managing Time: The Effects of Personal Goal Setting on Resource Allocation Strategy and Task Performance." The Journal of Psychology 135 (4): 357-367.

Tata, J. and S. Prasad. 2004. "Team Self-management, Organizational Structure, and Judgments of Team Effectiveness." Journal of Managerial Issues 16 (2) : 248-265.

Tett, R. P., D. N. Jackson and M. Rothstein. 1991. "Personality Measures as Predictors of Job Performance: A Meta-analytic Review." Personnel Psychology 44: 703-742.

Thoreson, C., J. Bradley, P. Bliese and D. Thoreson, 2004. "The Big Five Personality Traits and Individual Job Performance Growth Trajectories in Maintenance and Transitional Job Stages." Journal of Applied Psychology 89 (5): 835-853.

Van Scotter, J. R. and S. J. Motowidlo. 1996. "Interpersonal Facilitation and Job Dedication as Separate Facets of Contextual Performance." Journal of Applied Psychology 81: 525-531.

Van Vianen, A. and C. De Dreu. 2001. "Personality in Teams: Its Relationship to Social Cohesion, Task Cohesion, and Team Performance." European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 10 (2): 97-120.

Wanberg, C. and J. Kammeyer-Mueller. 2000. "Predictors and Outcomes of Proactivity in the Socialization Process." Journal of Applied Psychology 85 (3): 373-385.

Whittington, J, V. Goodwin and B. Murray. 2004. "Transformational Leadership, Goal Difficulty, and Job Design: Independent and Interactive Effects on Employee Outcomes." Leadership Quarterly 15 (5): 593-606.

Witt, L., L. Burke, M. Barrick and M. Mount. 2002. "The Interactive Effects of Conscientiousness and Agreeableness on Job Performance." Journal of Applied Psychology 87 (1): 164-169.

--and G. Ferris. 2003. "Social Skill as Moderator of the Conscientiousness-Performance Relationship: Convergent Results across Four Studies." Journal of Applied Psychology 88 (5): 809-821.

--, K. Kacmar, D. Carlson and S. Zivnuska. 2002. "Interactive Effects of Personality and Organizational Politics on Contextual Performance." Journal of Organizational Behavior 23 (8): 911-927.

James W. Westerman

Associate Professor of Management

Appalachian State University

Bret L. Simmons

Assistant Professor of Management

University of Nevada, Reno
Table 1
Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlations

                            M      SD       1      2      3       4

1.  Extraversion          45.98    6.37
2.  Openness              41.32    6.86   .34 *
3.  Agreeableness         45.91    7.22   .34 *   .16
4.  Conscientiousness     46.39    6.76   .29 *   .06   .43 *
5.  Emotional Stability   34.52    7.73   .40 *   .07   .41 *   .38 *
6.  Relationship          23.80    3.32   .29 *   .16   .27 *   .27 *
7.  Goal Orientation      19.32    3.20   .23 *   .05   .21 *   .20 *
8.  System Maintenance    27.05    3.43   .21 *   .04   .34 *   .22 *
9.  Performance           63.34   11.99   .08     .03   .12     .40 *
10. Commitment            51.93   11.73   .23 *   .18   .13     .12

                            5       6       7      8     9

1.  Extraversion
2.  Openness
3.  Agreeableness
4.  Conscientiousness
5.  Emotional Stability
6.  Relationship          .24 *
7.  Goal Orientation      .14     .46 *
8.  System Maintenance    .17     .55 *   .47 *
9.  Performance           .14     .14     .31 *   .16
10. Commitment            .01     .07     .36 *   .11   .08

* p < 0.05

Table 2

Regression Analyses: The Mediating Effects of Work Environment
Preferences on Personality and Employee Performance (a)

                               Model 1: DV = Mediators

                                         Goal          System
                      Relationship   Orientation    Maintenance

                      Beta   Sig.    Beta   Sig.    Beta   Sig.
Extraversion          .140   .214    .228   .043#   .094   .409
Openness              .101   .327    .039   .702    .037   .723
Agreeableness         .114   .310    .345   .002#   .281   .015#
Conscientiousness     .157   .158    .250   .025#   .073   .516
Emotional Stability   .073   .512    .087   .433    .005   .967
Goal Orientation
System Maintenance
        Adj. R-sq.    .103           .114           .081
                 F    3.32   .008#   3.59   .005#   2.79   .021#

                                 Model 2

                        Performance     Commitment

                      Beta    Sig.    Beta   Sig.

Extraversion          .119    .264    .208   .050#
Agreeableness         .078    .489    .041   .713
Conscientiousness     .209    .048#   .047   .667
Emotional Stability
Goal Orientation
System Maintenance
        Adj. R-sq.    .016            .031
                 F    1.562   .203    2.07   .110

                                 Model 3

                        Performance    Commitment

                      Beta   Sig.    Beta   Sig.

Extraversion          .174   .116    .178   .110
Agreeableness         .226   .085    .110   .403
Conscientiousness     .122   .284    .016   .892
Emotional Stability
Goal Orientation      .307   .021#   .295   .029#
System Maintenance    .139   .292    .015   .911
Relationship          .080   .523    .107   .400
        Adj. R-sq.    .081           .077   .030
                 F    2.49   .028#   2.44   .030#

(a) Numbers in bold indicate p < .05.

Note: Numbers in bold indicated with #.
Gale Copyright:
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.