Theories of person-environment fit have long been prevalent in
management literature (Kristof, 1996; Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, &
Johnson, 2005; Schneider, 2001) and are used to explain how
individuals' personalities and traits influence them to join and
remain in organizations (Bernard, 1938; Schneider, 1987) and vocations
(Dawis & Lofquist, 1984; Holland, 1985; Schein, 1978, 1994) and
engage in entrepreneurial activities (McClelland, 1961; Schumpeter,
1934). Entrepreneurial trait researchers commonly use a design that
compares a subgroup of study participants labeled as entrepreneurs to a
subgroup of participants labeled as non-entrepreneurs with respect to
specified personality characteristics. However, Gartner (1988)
criticized prior trait research for using definitions of entrepreneurs
that were vague or nonexistent and which varied across studies. This
lack of definitional precision often led, in his view, to samples of
entrepreneurs that were heterogeneous (for example, combining small
business owners with people who serially created new organizations with
high growth aspirations. Finally, he argued that researchers studied an
excessive number of different traits and characteristics. Researchers
have more recently adopted meta-analytical techniques and the Five
Factor personality model as an organizing framework to quantitatively
review multiple studies (Collins, Hanges, & Locke, 2004; Rauch &
Frese; 2007; Stewart & Roth, 2001, 2007, Zhao & Seibert, 2006).
Subsequently, primary researchers, while accepting that there is no
universally accepted narrow definition of an entrepreneur and have
developed alternative typologies to distinguish among types of
entrepreneurs based on their characteristics and objectives (Hisrich,
Langan-Fox, & Grant, 2007). Researchers have also provided more
detailed information on the criteria for classifying individuals into
different subgroups and recognized that entrepreneurs are not a
homogeneous. Researchers have adopted meta-analytical techniques and the
Five Factor personality model as an organizing framework to
quantitatively review primary research studies that employed different
definitions of participants and assessed different traits (Collins et
al, 2004; Rauch & Frese; 2007; Stewart & Roth, 2001, 2007, Zhao
& Seibert, 2006)
Person-environment theories have provided a framework to study the
interactions between individuals and foci of fit such as vocation,
organization, group, and supervisor, and job (see Kristof, 1996;
Kristof-Brown et al. 2005 for review of the conceptualizations and the
results of prior empirical research). The different conceptualizations
of person-environment fit share core assumptions: (i) work environments
differ, (ii) individuals differ, and (iii) individuals tend to move
toward environments which are congruent with the individual's
needs, values, or capabilities. Person-environment fit theories focus on
the individual as an active agent who enters and leaves work
environments to achieve personal objectives.
Henry Murray (1938) was one of the early pioneers of
person-environment, proposing that individuals had distinct
psychological traits ("needs") that they would attempt to
satisfy by finding opportunities ("supplies"), at work and
elsewhere, to engage in certain behaviors. The needs-supply
conceptualization of person-environment fit undergirds much of the trait
oriented entrepreneurial research. Under that conceptualization, fit is
achieved when there is congruence between what the person needs,
desires, or prefers (material or psychological) and what is provided by
the work environment. For example, an individual with a high need for
dominance would likely enter an organization or a profession where he or
she would be able to direct and manage other people and act as a leader
and avoid those environments where positions of power and authority were
less available. Trait oriented entrepreneurial research is based on the
assumption that entrepreneurship, however defined, provides
opportunities for behaviors ("supplies") that are different
from the behaviors in non-entrepreneurial work setting. Accordingly,
individuals with certain psychological needs would be expected to become
entrepreneurs as they would find the requirements of entrepreneurship as
For example, Stewart and Roth (2007) recognized that
entrepreneurial research on achievement motivation was grounded on
Murray's (1938) needs theory as further developed by
McClelland's (1961) need for achievement and Miner's (1993)
task motivation theories. McClelland and Miner argued that
entrepreneurial careers provided greater opportunities, relative to
traditional employment, for individuals to achieve success through their
individual efforts. Accordingly, individuals with higher needs for
achievement would be more likely to embark upon entrepreneurial careers
because entrepreneurship would offer greater opportunities to satisfy
their needs for achievement. Similarly, Stewart and Roth (2001)
indicated in their meta-analysis of risk propensity that researchers
posited that entrepreneurial activity was, relative to managerial
activity, less structured and more uncertain with the entrepreneur
bearing more responsibility for the consequences of his or her
decisions. Consequently, more risk-tolerant individuals would
'self-select' into entrepreneurial careers whereas more
risk-averse individuals would opt for traditional employment.
However, if there are different types of entrepreneurs, and if
entrepreneurship is not coterminous with self-employment, then the
environments would differ between types, provide different supplies, and
attract individuals with different needs. Researchers have recognized
the need to distinguish between individuals who serially create
organizations, markets and products and owners of small restaurant or
stores. For example, Stewart and Roth (2001, 2007) distinguished between
entrepreneurs who were growth oriented versus those that were income
oriented with the assumption that the different assumptions lead them to
confront different environments which would require different behaviors.
For example, the income oriented entrepreneur would not need to engage
in unusually risky activities and would not need to have an unusually
high propensity for risk whereas someone with a growth orientation would
likely need to taker higher levels of risk. Similarly, Schein (1978,
1994) distinguished between entrepreneurs who have creativity career
anchors and need to create and build enterprises in order to be content
and those who had autonomy/independence anchors and would intentionally
restrict the growth of their businesses to retain the independency that
satisfied their need. The individual with the creativity career anchor
would need to hire and direct employees in order to meet his or her
objective of growing the enterprise whereas the individual with the
autonomy/independence anchor would not need to.
In his research I identified three different types of self- and
organizational employment (which I refer to as "work
arrangements") that I expected would require and permit individuals
working in them to engage in different types of behaviors. I assessed
the perceptions of individuals working in each of these categories as to
the amount of opportunities for four types of behaviors
("supplies") and tested for hypothesized differences. I also
assessed four corresponding personality characteristics of the
individuals working in each category ("needs") and tested for
I distinguished among three types of work arrangements: the
self-employed who had ownership interests in enterprises that employed
others ("employers"), the self-employed who owned businesses
with no employees ("non-employers"), and those who worked for
others ("employees"). This bifurcation of the self-employed is
consistent with the distinction made by others (Barbato, DeMartino,
& Jacques, 2009; Bond, Thompson, Galinsky, & Prottas, 2003;
Hipple, 2004; Prottas, 2007; Prottas & Thompson, 2006) and
recognizes that non-employers represent the dominant form of
self-employment. According to the Bureau of Labor standards, there were
15.9 million self-employed individuals in 2008, representing 10.9% of
the employed (Hipple, personal communication, 5.28.09). Prior BLS
studies reported that only a small minority (16.9% in 2003) of the
self-employed owned businesses that employed others and three-quarters
of that minority had only one to four employees (Hipple, 2004).
Moreover, the distinction between employers and non-employers
appears crucial with respect to understanding how the behaviors required
in each work arrangement could lead individuals with different
personalities to be attracted to them. I believe a key distinction
between the work environments of employers and non-employers is that
employers and employees are members of organizations which provide
opportunities for different types of social interactions. Indeed,
Barnard (1938) suggested that the "inducements of a personal,
non-materialistic character are of great importance to secure
cooperative effort above the minimum material reward essential to
subsistence. The opportunities for distinction, prestige, personal
power, and attainment of dominating position are much more important in
the development of all sorts of organizations, including commercial
organizations" (p.145). The non-employer works outside of such an
organization and would have fewer opportunities and requirements for
such social interactions. I developed and tested hypotheses about
differences among the three groups with respect to opportunities and
needs for achievement, affiliation, autonomy, and dominance.
One distinction between the self-employed and traditional employees
is that the latter have "maintenance free" employment with
others responsible for maintaining the business, leaving the employee
responsible for a narrow range of responsibilities (Eden, 1975; Katz,
1994). In contrast, the self-employed have a broad range organizational
maintenance responsibilities such as maintaining payroll, paying
employee-related taxes, hiring, disciplining, firing, negotiating
remuneration with suppliers, customers, etc. (Eden, 1975; Katz, 1994).
Nonemployers have a broader range of responsibilities and areas of
decision than do employees, such bookkeeping, financial management and
control, setting up and maintaining physical work space, legal,
negotiating with suppliers and customers, and obtaining health and
business insurance. Both categories of self-employed must also obtain
and serve their customers. The characteristics of self-employment, for
both employers and nonemployers, require them to engage in a wider
variety of behaviors would enable them to satisfy needs for achievement.
Employers and nonemployers are more likely than employees to achieve
success primarily through their individual efforts and to more directly
experience the consequences of their own decisions.
While there is little research on opportunities for achievement
among entrepreneurs, there has been considerable empirical research on
their need for achievement. Empirical support for the relationship
between need for achievement and entrepreneurial activity has been found
in meta-analytic reviews (Collins et al., 2004; Rausch & Frese,
2007; Stewart & Roth, 2007; Zhao & Seibert, 2006). In the one
study comparing needs for achievement among employers, nonemployers and
employees, Barbato et al. (2009) found employers had greater needs for
achievement than both nonemployers and employees with nonemployers and
employees having similar needs.
Therefore, I hypothesized that:
Hypothesis 1: There will be differences across groups with respect
to perceived opportunities for achievement within their work settings.
Specifically, employers and nonemployers will report greater
opportunities for achievement than employees.
Hypothesis 2: There will be differences across groups with respect
to needs for achievement. Specifically, employers and nonemployers will
have greater needs for achievement than employees.
Differences in Opportunities and Needs for Affiliation
One difference between employers and nonemployers is that the
former are members of the social systems constituted by their businesses
whereas nonemployers are not. Barnard (1938) noted that joining a
work-related organization necessitated membership in a social system and
that some individuals would find such inclusion in a social system to be
onerous and repellent rather than rewarding and attractive. Employers
and employees should experience more opportunities--and requirements
--to socially interact and affiliate than nonemployers. Of course, there
is likely to be substantial variation within each work arrangement. An
employee working at a location which is physically remote from coworkers
might have little social interaction with fellow employees. On the other
hand, a nonemployer may have long lasting relationships with a customer
and work onsite, thusly becoming integrated with a social system.
There is limited empirical evidence that opportunities to engage in
social interaction and a desire to do so may vary across work
arrangements Bond et al. (2003) found that nonemployers reported less
social and work related support from coworkers than did employers and
employees (and employers reported more than employees). There is more
research on a related personality trait, extraversion, that suggests it
might be related to entrepreneurship. Extraversion is related to both
leadership ability (Judge Bono, Ilies, & Gerhardt, 2002) and
management and sales ability (Barrick & Mount, 1991) and it has been
hypothesized that individuals who were more extraverted should develop
the broad social networks that facilitate self-employment (Allen, 2000).
However, in their meta-analysis, Zhao and Seibert (2006) found no
relationship between extraversion and entrepreneurial activity. I
Hypothesis 3: There will be differences across groups with respect
to opportunities for affiliation with others within their working
setting. Specifically, employers and employees will report greater
opportunities for affiliation than nonemployers.
Hypothesis 4: There will be differences across groups with respect
to needs for affiliation. Specifically, employers and employees will
have greater needs for affiliation than non-employers.
Both employers and non-employers are responsible for directing and
managing their own work while in general most employees are managed, to
a degree, by others in their organization. Self-employment, whether as
employer or non-employer, is likely to provide more opportunity for
autonomy than is working as an employee. There is research with respect
to both opportunities for autonomy and personality traits. Studies found
that the self-employed report greater job autonomy (Eden, 1975; Hundley,
2001; Tetrick et al., 2000). Furthermore, a desire for autonomy is
related to preference for self-employment (Buttner & Moore, 1997;
Kolvereid, 1996; Peel & Inkson, 2001). Danziger and Valency (2006)
found the incidence of autonomy and entrepreneurial creativity was
greater among the self-employed in their sample of Israelis than it was
among employees and Feldman and Bolino (2000) found that the autonomy
and independence anchor was the most common among the self-employed.
While they found no difference between self-employed and employees with
respect to need for autonomy, Hornaday and Aboud (1971) reported the
self-employed placed a higher value on independence. In their
meta-analysis, Rausch and Frese (2007) found that need for autonomy was
positively related to being an entrepreneur rather than non-entrepreneur
and measures of organizational performance. Two studies with the
self-employed classified as either employers or nonemployers found that
employers reported greater job autonomy than nonemployers who in turn
reported more than employees (Prottas, 2007; Prottas & Thompson,
There is limited research comparing needs for autonomy between the
two types of self-employed. Schein's theory of career anchors
(1978, 1994) holds that the self-employed are heterogeneous; some, such
as independent contractors, have autonomy anchors while others, who
create organizations, have creativity or entrepreneurial anchors.
Studies show that constructs related to need for autonomy were in fact
negatively related to the size of the businesses of self-employed (Lee
& Tsang, 2001; Robichaud et al., 2001). Barbato et al. (2009)
reported that both employers and nonemployers had greater needs for
autonomy than employees and employers had greater needs than
With respect to autonomy, I expect that both categories of
self-employed would have greater opportunities and needs for autonomy
than will employees. However, I expect that although employers will have
greater opportunities than nonemployers given their ability to delegate
work to others, I expect nonemployers will have a greater needs for
autonomy. I predicted that:
Hypotheses 5: There will be differences across groups with respect
to opportunities for autonomy within their work setting. Specifically,
employers and nonemployers will report greater opportunities for
autonomy than employees, and employers will report greater opportunities
Hypotheses 6: There will be differences across groups with respect
to needs for autonomy. Specifically, employers and nonemployers will
have greater needs for autonomy than employees and nonemployers will
have greater needs than employers.
Employers and employees who are managers must direct and influence
the behavior of other organizational members. As Katz (1994) stated,
"self-employment by definition places the individual on the top of
the firm's hierarchy" and he distinguished between the owners
of firms that employ others and those who don't: "The owner of
a one-person firm would be seen as having power over no one. Hence, the
employer of a one person firm has less hierarchy than the employer of a
100-employee firm." (p. 26). The two types of self-employed differ
with respect to whether the individual manages and directs the
activities of others. Employers must perform such management functions
while the typical nonemployer has no such responsibilities or
opportunities. The amount of responsibility and ability of an employee
to direct the work of others varies, of course, with his or her level in
both formal and informal organizational structures. However, even the
newest hire without any form of formal or informal responsibility or
power is entering a system with the potential for gaining such
There is limited evidence that the self-employed and employees
differ with respect to dominance. Kolvereid (1996) found students who
preferred to be self-employed valued authority more highly than those
who wanted to be employees. Hornaday and Aboud (1971) found
entrepreneurs placed greater value on leadership than employees while
DeCarlo and Lyons (1979) found them higher in dominance. Baum et al.
(1993) found U.S. entrepreneurs were higher than U.S. managers in need
Accordingly I predicted that:
Hypotheses 7: There will be differences across groups with respect
to opportunities for dominance within their work setting. Specifically,
employers and employees will report greater opportunities for dominance
than nonemployers and employers will report greater opportunities than
Hypotheses 8: There will be differences across groups with respect
to needs for dominance. Specifically, employers and employees will have
greater needs for dominance than employees and employers will have
greater needs than employees.
Participants were 322 Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) who were
members of the New York State Society of CPAs. A sampling frame of 1,200
members was created from the publicly accessible membership directory on
its website (http://www.nysscpa.org). Most entries included a definition
of the member's position (such as sole practitioner, CFO,
partner/principal/shareholder); these were used to provide preliminary
classification into the categories of work arrangements for the purpose
of recruiting appropriate numbers of participants in each group. As my
intention was to produce groups of similar size for comparison purposes,
I over-sampled nonemployers and employers relative to their percentages
in the general membership. I systematically reviewed the membership
lists by counties and used a quota system to assemble a mailing list of
1,200 members, broken down by preliminary classification as 500 sole
practitioners, 500 as partners in public accountancy firms, and 200 as
traditional employees. Based on first names, 78% were male, the same
proportion of males in the general membership (W. A. Pape, personal
communication, December 6, 2005). Email pre-advices were sent to
potential participants followed by mailings containing cover letters,
surveys, and stamped return envelopes. Email follow ups were sent
several months later. Participation was anonymous (participants could
enclose a business card to be advised of any subsequent publications;
cards were immediately separated from the surveys). Fourteen of the
mailings were returned as undeliverable; about 2% of the emails sent on
each emailing were returned due to faulty email addresses. The 322
responses represented a response rate of 27% (comparable to similar
survey studies of members of accounting societies (Fogarty et al.,
Work Arrangement. Participants classified themselves by checking
one of seven categories: "sole practitioner (with no full-time
employees other than yourself)", "sole practitioner (with one
or more non-CPA employees)", "partner (with at least one-third
partnership interest) in a public accountancy firm"; "partner
(with less than one-third partnership interest) in a public accountancy
firm", "employee of a public accountancy firm
(non-partner)", "employee of other than a public accountancy
firm," "other." Participants were asked how many other
people worked in their organization. Sole practitioners without
employees were classified as nonemployers. Sole practitioners with
employees and partners with at least one-third partnership interest were
classified as employers. Seven individuals who chose "other"
provided sufficient information to be classified as employers. Partners
with less than one-third partnership interests and employees of public
accountancy and other organizations were classified as employees. As
some large public accountancy firms have thousands of
"partners" for purposes of this study I felt it necessary to
distinguish between partners whose ownership interests were sufficiently
large to provide them with rights and responsibilities that are more
generally associated with ownership. Participants were also asked to
indicate "given a choice, under which arrangement would you most
prefer to work?" using those same categories.
Demographics. Items assessed age, sex, marital status, and
Opportunities. Medcof and Hausdorf (1995) developed three scales
intended to be facilitate substantive research on person-environment fit
by assessing opportunities at work to satisfy three psychological needs:
for achievement (five items, Cronbach alpha coefficient of internal
reliability ([alpha]) = 79), for dominance (four items, [alpha] = .84),
and for affiliation (three items, [alpha] = .72). Medcof and Hausdorf
(1995) critiqued prior person-environment research for assessing the
psychological traits of individuals in certain jobs or vocations and
then making the assumption that opportunities varied accordingly without
assessing the opportunities themselves. They developed the measures of
opportunities using Jackson's (1989) definitions as a conceptual
guide. I used all of the items from Medcof and Hausdorf (1995) in this
study. As I was concerned with having only three affiliation items and
were concerned about the reliability of the measure, I added one
additional item from Sims et al (1976). Sample items are "On this
job, I work towards clear challenging goals" (achievement);
"To do my job properly, I have to spend quite a bit of time
influencing others" (dominance); "On this job, I spend a great
deal of time with other people" (affiliation). Job autonomy was
measured using all four items ([alpha] = .74) that Beehr (1976) used to
assess perceived autonomy. A sample item is "I have a lot to say
over what happens on my job." Respondents were asked to indicate
the extent to which each items accurately or inaccurately described
their current job with using a Likert-type scale with options from 1
(=Very inaccurate) to 7 (=Very accurate). The [alpha]'s in the
current study were: achievement, .78; affiliation, .67; autonomy, .83;
and, dominance, .86. The [alpha] would have been somewhat lower had I
not added a fourth item to the affiliation scale.
Needs. Needs for achievement, affiliation, autonomy, and dominance
were assessed by four scales consisting of sixteen items each from the
Jackson Personality Research Form E (PRF) (Jackson, 1999). Jackson used
Murray's (1938) work as a starting point to develop measures of 23
different psychological needs. Jackson's (1999) description of high
scorers on each scale and sample items are: achievement: "aspires
to accomplish difficult tasks, maintains high standards and is willing
to work toward distant goals, responds positively to competition,
willing to put forth effort to attain excellence" (p. 5) with a
sample item being, "I often set goals that are very difficult to
reach"; affiliation: "enjoys being with friends and people in
general; accepts people readily; makes efforts to win friendships and
maintain associations with people" (p. 5) and a sample item being
"Often I would rather be alone than in a group of friends";
autonomy: "tries to break away from restraints, confinement, or
restrictions of any kind; enjoys being unattached, free, not tied to
people, places, or obligations; may be rebellious when faced with
constraints" (p. 5) with a sample item being "My greatest
desire is to be independent and free"); "attempts to control
environment, and to influence or direct other people; expresses opinions
forcefully; enjoys the role of leader and may assume it
spontaneously" (p. 6) with a sample item being "In an
argument, I can usually win others over to my side." Response
options were True or False. The [alpha]'s for these scales in this
study were: achievement .59; affiliation, .82; autonomy, .66; and
dominance, .80. These compare to the internal reliabilities reported by
Jackson (1999) in two samples: achievement, .66/.57, affiliation,
.82/.86; autonomy, .61/.66, and dominance, .78/.67) and by Medcof and
Hausdorf (1996: achievement, .57; affiliation, .86, and dominance, .67).
Table 1 provides basic descriptive statistics and correlations for
the 322 participants. The majority were male (74.5%) and married or in a
similar relationship (82.8 %). The average age was 52.9 years (SD =
11.69) and the median individual income was $135,000. Participants were
classified as nonemployers (n = 98, or 30.4%), employers (n = 129, or
40.1%), or employees (n = 95, or 29.5%).There were significant
relationships between age and opportunities for affiliation (-.12, p =
.030) and autonomy (.22, p = .000) and needs for affiliation (-.14, p =
.015) and dominance (-.15, p = .007). Gender was related to opportunity
for dominance (r with female = -.11, p = .041. Consistent with other
studies (e.g. Prottas & Thompson, 2006), the self-employed in this
sample tended to be older and were more likely to be male than
The correlations among the measures of needs and opportunities were
similar in magnitude and direction to prior studies. The relationships
among the four measures of needs were similar to those reported for male
college students by Jackson (1999) and by Medcof and House (1995). The
correlation between achievement and affiliation in my study was .13
versus Jackson's .01 and Medcof and Hausdorf's .15;
achievement and dominance of .33 versus .26 and .44; between affiliation
and dominance of .37 versus .30 and .18. Medcof and House did not assess
needs or opportunities for autonomy. The correlation in my study between
autonomy and achievement was -.04 versus Jackson's .03; autonomy
and affiliation of -.34 versus -.29; and autonomy and dominance of -.14
versus -.01. My correlations between opportunities were similar to those
reported by Medcof and Hausdorf (1995): achievement and. affiliation of
.37 in this study versus .44; achievement and dominance of .60 versus
.41, and affiliation and dominance of .35 versus .44.
The four opportunities for needs-related behaviors were
conceptually linked and likely to be inter-correlated (as were the four
needs). Therefore, I first conducted two sets of MANOVAs with work
arrangement as a non-ordered categorical variable (with three values:
employer, non-employer, and employee). I examined multivariate and
univariate F statistics based on the Wilks lambda for statistical
significance and used the partial eta-squared ([[eta].sub.p.sup.2]) as
the effect size.
Given the differences across work arrangements with respect to age
and sex, I also conducted two sets of MANCOVAs with work arrangement as
a fixed factor and age and sex as covariates (Model 2 in Table 2).
Finally, I reclassified participants according to their preferred work
arrangement and conducted another set of MANOVAs (Model 3 in Table 2).
For the hypotheses regarding between-group relationships, the
standardized mean difference (d) between each group was calculated and
the statistical significance of the differences were determined using
Bonferroni corrections. Based on Cohen (1977) and Stevens (2002), effect
sizes for [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] were categorized as follows: .01 is small,
.06 is medium, and .14 is large. For the standardized mean differences:
d, .20 is small, .50 is medium, and .80 is large (Cohen, 1977).
With respect to opportunities for achievement, affiliation,
autonomy and dominance as dependent variables, the multivariate F
statistic based on the Wilks lambda for work arrangement as the fixed
factor was significant (F (8,628) = 22.96, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .23, p
= .000). As evidenced by the univariate F statistics, there were
significant differences across groups as predicted in hypotheses 1, 3,
5, and 7: for achievement (F = 3.45, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .02, p =
.033); for affiliation (F = 14.69, np2 = .09, p = .000); for autonomy (F
= 35.84, np2 = .18, p = .000); for dominance (F = 46.83,
[[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .23, p = .00.
With respect to needs for achievement, affiliation, autonomy, and
dominance, the multivariate F statistic based on the Wilks lambda for
work arrangement was also significant (F (8,622) = 3.82,
[[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .05, p = .000). Further, the univariate F
statistics for work arrangement were significant for needs for autonomy
(F = 10.00, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .06, p = .000) and for dominance (F =
5.38, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .01, p = .005) as predicted in hypotheses 3
and 4 but not for achievement (F = 1.48, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = 01, p =
.23) or for affiliation (F = 1.53, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = 01, p = .22) as
predicted in hypotheses 1 and 2. The multivariate and univariate effects
sizes of the differences across groups with respect to needs were
smaller than the differences with respect to opportunities.
The means and standard deviations for participants in each work
arrangement, the standardized mean differences of each
paired-comparison, and the statistical significance of each paired
difference (with Bonferroni correction) are shown in Table 3. The
results with respect to the opportunities for each type of behavior are
shown on the left side of the table and with respect to each type of
need on the right side.
With respect to opportunities for achievement, employers reported
significantly greater opportunities than employees. Although the mean of
opportunities of non-employers was greater than those of employees with
an effect size that reached the threshold for small but the difference
was not statistically significant (p = .40). Similarly with respect to
needs, both employers and employees reported had higher means than
non-employers with effect sizes that reached the threshold for small but
the differences were not statistically significant (p =.44 and p = .37).
The needs of employers and employees were virtually identical.
As hypothesized, both employers and employees reported greater
opportunities for affiliation than did non-employers (d = .66, p = .000
and d = .57, p = .000). However, my hypotheses that employers and
employees would have greater needs for affiliation were not supported;
employers and employees reported higher mean needs than higher needs
than non-employers but the differences were not statistically
significant (p = .25 and p = .85, respectively). Employers and employees
were virtually identical.
With respect to opportunities for autonomy, employers and
nonemployers reported significantly greater opportunities than employees
(d = .93, p = .000 and d = .95, p = .000) with little difference between
employers and nonemployers. With respect to needs, nonemployers had
greater needs than employees (d = .62, p = .000) and employers (d = .41,
p = .013). Employers had higher means than employees with a difference
that exceeded the threshold for small but which did not achieve
statistical significance (p = .30).
With respect to opportunities for dominance, both employers and
employees reported significantly greater opportunities than did
nonemployers (d = 1.18, p = .000 and d = 1.13, p = .000). However, my
hypothesis that employers would report greater opportunities for
dominance than employees was not supported as they reported virtually
identical opportunities. The relationships were similar with respect to
needs as both employers and employees had greater needs than
nonemployers (d = .36, p = .02 and d = .44, p = .003). As with
opportunities, my hypothesis that employers would have greater needs for
dominance than employees was not supported as they had very similar
Given the significant age and sex differences across groups and the
bivariate relationships between gender and age and some of the measures
of opportunities and needs, I conducted two sets of MANCOVAs with work
arrangement as the fixed factor and age and sex as covariates. The
multivariate statistics for opportunities (F = 18.75, p = .00,
[[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .20) and needs (F = 3.69, p = .00,
[[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .05) were similar to those of the MANOVAs (the
univariate relations are shown in Model 2 of Table 2). That is, the
multivariate [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] exceeded the threshold of large for
opportunities and was slightly below the threshold for medium for needs.
The patterns were similar with respect to the univariate relationships
with significant differences with respect to opportunities for
achievement, affiliation, autonomy, and dominance and needs for autonomy
and dominance. The differences between groups were also similar to the
I examined the possibility that the magnitude of the differences of
personality variables across groups was attenuated by constraints on
individuals that prevented them from moving into their desired work
arrangement. The vast great majority of employers (92%) preferred that
arrangement with only 4% wanting to be nonemployers or employees. The
majority (59%) of nonemployers also indicated they preferred that
arrangement; with 35% expressing a preference to be employers, and only
6% wanting to be employees The majority of employees (73%) preferred
their arrangement with 25% wanting to be employers and only 1% wanting
to be non-employers. This is consistent with the 2002 NSCW (Bond et al,
2003) which reported that 12% of employers and 32% of non-employers said
they would prefer to be working for someone else and with 26% of
employees saying they planned to be self-employed at some point in their
future. I conducted a second set of MANOVAs with individuals classified
according to their preferred work arrangement. As discussed above, this
resulted primarily in actual non-employers and employees being
reclassified as employers. The multivariate statistics for opportunities
were F = 9.89, p = .000, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .11 and for needs, F =
5.26, p = .000, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .06 (the univariate relationships
are shown in Model 3 of Table 2). As would be expected, the effect sizes
of work arrangement with respect to opportunities were smaller than
those found in Model 1. However, with respect to needs, the multivariate
and univariate effect sizes were slightly greater (multivariate
[[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = 06 vs. .05 and univariate [[eta].sub.p.sup.2]s for
achievement of .02 vs. .01, affiliation of .01 vs. .01, autonomy, .09
vs. 06, and dominance, .04 vs. .03). The between group relationships
were similar to those from the MANOVA on individuals classified
according to their actual status.
My research provided support for extending the theory of
person-environment fit to choice of work arrangement. Individuals who
worked as members of organizations (as employers or employees) reported
greater opportunities for affiliation and dominance and had
personalities with higher needs for affiliation and dominance. Those who
worked for and by themselves as nonemployers reported relatively lower
opportunities and needs. Individuals who were self-employed reported
greater opportunities for autonomy than those who worked for others as
employees. Consistent with Schein's (1978, 1994) distinction
between autonomy/independence and creativity anchors, it was the
nonemployers who had the highest needs for autonomy. Differences were
less pronounced and consistent with respect to achievement. Employers
and nonemployers reported relatively high levels of both opportunities
for achievement, consistent with the prior research on relationships
between entrepreneurial activity and entrepreneurship
I did not find that employers and employees differed as I had
expected with respect to opportunities and needs for dominance. This
might be idiosyncratic to the profession as there is evidence that the
CPA credential enables some individuals to obtain relatively high levels
of authority --and remuneration-- in large organizations. The mean
individual income of employees was highest (M = $222,095, SD = $256,963)
than employers (M = $193,829, SD = $152,174) and independents (M =
$117,812, SD = $78,808). However, a few outliers (CFOs of very large
organizations) skewed the employee mean. The median incomes of employees
($147,500) and owners ($150,000) were similar and greater than the
median for nonemployers ($100,000). Additionally, the majority (65%) of
employees had titles that suggested they would have managerial
responsibilities (e.g., partners in public accounting firms and
directors, vice presidents, senior vice presidents, CFOs of other types
of firms) and worked in large firms (the mean number of fellow employees
was 7,000, SD = 2,917.9, Mdn = 50) whereas the employers managed
relatively small firms (with the mean number of employees of 7.3, SD =
13.3, Mdn = 3.0). Consistent with the BLS findings (Hipple, 2004), the
majority of the employers had relatively few employees: 56% had four or
fewer and the median was 3.0. That employees in this study earned more
than employers contrasts with the 2002 National Study of the Changing
Workforce (Bond et al, 2003). In that cross-industry national sample,
only 35% of employees classified themselves as professionals or managers
(with the latter category including fast food restaurant managers as
well as CEOs). Employers in that sample reported higher income than
nonemployers and employees. In a sample that is more representative of
the general population, the average employee would have less
hierarchical and professional authority than did the CPAs in this sample
and correspondingly report lower opportunities and needs for dominance.
This research contributes to the person-environment fit literature
in several ways. First, it supports the extension of the
conceptualization of person-environment fit to work arrangement in
addition to the traditional foci of organizations and vocations. Second,
it simultaneously assesses both work characteristics and personality
traits rather than only one or the other as has more common in
person-environment fit research (Medcof & Hausdorf, 1995). The
magnitude of differences in needs across work arrangements was similar
to those found in other studies. For example, meta-analyses that compare
entrepreneurs to managers report small-to-medium differences for
neuroticism, openness to experience, and conscientiousness (Zhao &
Seibert, 2006) and need for achievement (Collin et al., 2003; Stewart
& Roth, 2007).
Furthermore, consistent with a causal model of person-environment
fit, in which situational and personal constraints moderate the degree
to which individuals can migrate into the work arrangement which best
fits their personality needs, I found that there were greater
differences across work arrangements with respect to perceived
opportunities to fulfill needs than there were with respect to the
personality traits. This is consistent with other research. For example,
Kristof-Brown et al. (1996) meta-analysis found the relationships
between degree of fit and attitudes (such as job satisfaction) were
stronger than those between fit and behaviors (such as turnover). Medcof
and Hausdorf (1995) also found that the differences across occupations
were larger for opportunities for behaviors than they were for the
corresponding needs. Individuals do not make their career decisions
purely to satisfy their psychological needs and the work place is not
the only setting where needs may be satisfied. For instance, individuals
with needs for achievement that are not being met through their work may
engage in leisure activities that allow greater, compensatory
opportunities (Adams & Stone, 1977).
While my results are consistent with a model showing that
individuals with certain needs migrate into needs-satisfying
environments, the cross-sectional design of my study does not allow us
to discount alternative explanations regarding causality. It is possible
that the behavioral demands of the different work arrangements affect,
over time, the personalities of incumbents (Davis-Blake & Pfeffer,
1989). Future research that is longitudinal and identifies processes by
which individuals form preferences and attain different work
arrangements is necessary.
As with much person-environment fit research (Kristof-Brown et al.,
2005), this research is limited by reliance of self-reported data for
both job characteristics and personality needs. Kristof-Brown et al.
(2005) suggested that their finding that the effect sizes of studies
with all common sources were larger than those that used partially
common raters might be explained by dissonance and self-perception
effects that lead to cognitive distortions. However, the greatest
cognitive distortion would be most likely to occur when asking
individuals to report on their perception of fit and their attitudes
towards their environment which I did not ask my participants to do.
Additionally, my measures of perceived opportunities and needs were
quite different. The wording of the opportunity items was tied to the
workplace whereas the personality items were related to a broad variety
of life settings. They differed as well in response options. Therefore,
it would seem less likely that individuals' responses to the items
would be distorted by a desire to be consistent.
The relatively low internal reliabilities of several of my measures
of key constructs should also be viewed as a limitation on my research.
The Cronbach alpha coefficients for opportunity for affiliation ([alpha]
= .67) and need for autonomy ([alpha] = .66) fell somewhat below
Nunnally (1967's) oft cited threshold of .70 for acceptability
while that for need for achievement ([alpha] = .59) was well below. It
is possible that my failure to find some significant differences among
groups with respect to certain variables was attributable to the
relatively low reliability of some of my measures. However, if the
common source bias augmented the strength of the relationships, the
within profession design may have attenuated them. Person-vocation fit
suggests that individuals who become CPAs differ with respect to their
personalities from others and that the characteristics of their work
environments would also differ. Range restriction with respect to both
opportunities for behaviors and needs may have resulted in differences
across work arrangements being less pronounced than they would be in an
Future research should study individuals in professions that are
dissimilar (such as employer/operators of long-haul trucks) to determine
whether the relationships found here hold more broadly. The research is
further limited by the relatively low internal consistencies reported
for several of measures, most, notably the need for achievement. Low
reliabilities may attenuate relations but also cast doubt whether the
underlying construct is being assessed with sufficient accuracy for any
reliance to be placed on the findings. Certainly, any further research
should be undertaken with instruments that may reliably assess the
construct in the sample population.
This research has practical as well as theoretical implications.
Self-management of one's own career is enhanced by individuals
gaining awareness of their own values and needs in order to initiate
actions to fulfill them (Schein, 1978). After becoming aware of their
own needs, individuals may then seek out information as to how different
career choices might satisfy them. Given the increasing availability of
alternative work arrangements and alternatives for self-employment, it
would be important to understand that they may provide very distinct
work environments. These findings may then be relevant to individuals
making career choices as well as to those who provide vocational
counseling. For example, it appears that a person may have ample
opportunities for autonomy as either an employer or a nonemployer, but a
person with high needs for dominance be would be dissatisfied being an
nonemployer whereas an individual with low needs may be unhappy being an
My research may also have implications for organizations. As
proposed by Hackman and Oldham (1975) and confirmed by numerous studies
(Kinicki, McKee-Ryan, Schriesheim, & Carson, 2002), job autonomy is
positively related to job satisfaction and other outcomes.
Self-employment, as either employer or nonemployer appears to be an
effective tactic to obtain more autonomy. As alternative employment
arrangements become more accessible to more workers, a given employer
may need to be less concerned with its best and brightest employees
defecting to a competing organization and more worried about them
departing to work for themselves. Employers may need to redesign jobs to
increase autonomy in order to compete with the allure of alternative
Additionally, organizations that rely on the services of
non-employers rather than employees may need to adjust their practices
and policies to attract and motivate them. Management practices that are
suitable for typical employees may not be for non-employers. For
example, to the extent that non-employers have lower needs for
dominance, offering them managerial responsibilities on either an
on-going or project basis might be non-motivating or even de-motivating
to non-employers though motivating to employees. Similarly, supervisory
practices that are acceptable to traditional employees may be alienating
to non-employers who are sensitive to violations of their autonomy.
Organizations may need to design less intrusive forms of work
supervision or more carefully select non-employers who have the ability
to work effectively with less supervision. Additionally, as
non-employers have needs for affiliation that are similar to employees
yet typically operate in an environment with fewer opportunities to
satisfy those needs, organizations which depend on non-employers might
provide the option of working on-site and otherwise attempt to integrate
them into the social fabric of the organization.
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TABLE 1 Basic Statistics and Correlations (All Participants)
Variables M SD 1 2 3 4 5
1. Gender .25 .44 -
2. Age 52.93 11.69 -.26 -
3. Marital .83 .38 -.25 .13 -
4. Income 179.4 180.4 -.32 .14 .18 -
5. Opp. Ach. 6.10 .78 .01 -.00 -.05 .10 (.78)
6. Opp. Aff. 5.46 .98 -.04 -.12 -.00 .27 .37
7. Opp. Aut 6.33 .80 -.04 .22 .03 .11 .48
8. Opp. Dom. 4.55 1.52 -.11 -.10 .05 .35 .34
9. Need Ach. 11.29 2.49 .00 -.03 -.03 .09 .35
10. Need Aff. 9.68 3.76 .07 -.14 -.04 .00 .18
11. Need Aut. 7.00 2.88 .06 .03 -.18 -.07 -.11
12. Need Dom. 10.79 3.54 -.11 -.15 .04 .19 .24
Variables 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
5. Opp. Ach.
6. Opp. Aff. (.67)
7. Opp. Aut .22 (.83)
8. Opp. Dom. .60 .05 (.86)
9. Need Ach. .21 .06 .15 (.59)
10. Need Aff. .25 .20 .16 .13 (.82)
11. Need Aut. -.18 .03 -.21 -.04 -.34 (.66)
12. Need Dom. .29 .13 .32 .33 .37 -.14 (.80)
Note. Ns: 317 to 322, except income, 280. Categorical variables:
Gender (0 = Male, 1 = Female); Marital (0 = Single, 1 = Married or in
a similar relationship). Income in $000's. Opp: = Opportunity. Ach. +
Achievement. Aff. = Affiliation; Aut. = Autonomy; Dom. = Dominance.
Cronbach alphas are shown along diagonals. Correlations > .20
significant at p < .001, two-tailed; > .15 significant at p < .01,
two-tailed; > .12 significant at p < 05, two-tailed.
TABLE 2 Multivariate Analysis of Differences: Work Arrangement as
Dependent [[eta].sub.p. [[eta].sub.p.
Variables F sup.2] F sup.2]
Actual Work Arrangement as Fixed Factor
Opportunities 3.45 .02 14.69 .09
Needs 1.48 .01 1.53 .01
Actual Work Arrangement as Fixed Factor--Age, Sex as covariates
Opportunities 3.39 .02 12.92 .08
Needs 1.60 .00 2.02 .01
Preferred Work Arrangement as Fixed Factor
Opportunities .45 .00 5.26 .03
Needs 2.79 .02 .91 .01
Dependent [[eta].sub.p. [[eta].sub.p.
Variables F sup.2] F sup.2]
Actual Work Arrangement as Fixed Factor
Opportunities 35.84 .18 46.83 .23
Needs 10.00 .06 5.38 .03
Actual Work Arrangement as Fixed Factor--Age, Sex as covariates
Opportunities 27.07 .15 39.58 .20
Needs 9.30 .06 3.88 .03
Preferred Work Arrangement as Fixed Factor
Opportunities 13.24 .08 22.43 .12
Needs 14.59 .09 5.98 .04
Note. Work arrangement is non-ordered categorical variable with three
values: employer, nonemployer, or employee. Models 1 and 2 classified
each participant according to their actual work arrangement. Model 3
classifies each participant according to their preferred work
arrangement. F statistics based on the Wilks lambda. Univariate F
statistics [greater than or equal to] 9.30 significant at p < .001,
two-tailed; [greater than or equal to] 5.26 at p < .01, two-tailed;
[greater than or equal to] 3.45 at p < .05, two-tailed.
TABLE 3 Group Means and Differences in Opportunities and Needs
for Achievement, Affiliation, Autonomy and Dominance
Group M SD d M SD d
Employers 6.21 .80 11.42 2.37
d =.12 d =.20
Nonemployers 6.11 .81 .33 10.93 2.54 .03
d =.20 d =.22
Employees 5.94 .86 11.49 2.58
Employers 5.69 .90 10.04 3.55
d =.66 d =.24
Nonemployers 5.03 1.11 .13 9.15 3.90 .08
d =.57 d =.15
Employees 5.58 .78 9.74 3.86
Employers 6.54 .56 6.83 2.65
d =.09 d =.41
Nonemployers 6.59 .57 .93 7.98 2.99 .23
d =.95 d =.62
Employees 5.81 1.01 6.20 2.79
Employers 5.03 1.28 11.08 3.45
d =1.18 d = .36
Nonemployers 3.45 1.41 .02 9.84 3.49 .08
d =1.13 d = .44
Employees 5.01 1.34 11.39 3.55
Note. Opportunities n's: Employers, 128; nonemployers, 97; employees,
95. Needs n's: Employers, 127; nonemployers, 97, employees, 93.
Standardized mean difference (d) between employers and nonemployers
and between nonemployers and employees appear in the rows between.
The ds for the difference between employers and employees appear in
the columns to the right. The statistical significances were
calculated with Bonferroni correction. d's [greater than or equal to]
.57 are significant at p < .001, two-tailed; [greater than or equal
to] .44 at p < .01, two-tailed; [greater than or equal to] .33 at p <