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The International Journal of Human


Resource Management
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Testing the mediation effect of


person–organization fit on the
relationship between high performance
HR practices and employee outcomes
in the Egyptian public sector
ab
Ahmed Mohammed Sayed Mostafa & Julian Seymour Gould-
a
Williams
a
Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
b
Faculty of Commerce, Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt
Published online: 23 Sep 2013.

To cite this article: Ahmed Mohammed Sayed Mostafa & Julian Seymour Gould-Williams (2014)
Testing the mediation effect of person–organization fit on the relationship between high
performance HR practices and employee outcomes in the Egyptian public sector, The International
Journal of Human Resource Management, 25:2, 276-292, DOI: 10.1080/09585192.2013.826917

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2013.826917

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The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 2014
Vol. 25, No. 2, 276–292, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2013.826917

Testing the mediation effect of person – organization fit on the


relationship between high performance HR practices and employee
outcomes in the Egyptian public sector
Ahmed Mohammed Sayed Mostafaa,b,* and Julian Seymour Gould-Williamsa
a
Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK; bFaculty of Commerce,
Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt
Previous studies suggest that high performance HR practices (HPHRP) are positively
related to employee outcomes. However, the mechanisms through which this
relationship occurs require further research. This paper examines the effect of one such
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mechanism, person – organization (P-O) fit, on the relationship between HPHRP, job
satisfaction and organizational citizenship behaviours (OCBs). Using a sample of 671
professionals in the Egyptian health and higher education sectors, a partial mediation
model is outlined and tested using structural equation modelling. The study results
show that HPHRP had a positive relationship with P-O fit, job satisfaction and OCBs.
Further, P-O fit had a positive relationship with job satisfaction and OCBs, and partially
mediated the relationship between HPHRP, job satisfaction and OCBs. Thus, the
adoption of HPHRP not only leads to desirable employee outcomes, but it is also
associated with better fit between employees and organizations. As such, managers
should endeavour to use HPHRP to facilitate greater congruence between employees
and organizations in order to achieve improved employee attitudes and behaviours.
Keywords: Egyptian public sector; high performance HR practices; job satisfaction;
organizational citizenship behaviours; person – organization fit

Introduction
High performance HR practices (HPHRP) refer to a set of interconnected human resource
practices designed to enhance the skills and efforts of employees in organizations
(Messersmith, Patel, Lepak and Gould-Williams 2011). Findings of many previous studies
suggest that HPHRP are positively related to employee outcomes such as job satisfaction,
organizational commitment, work motivation, intention to quit and citizenship behaviours
(e.g. Gould-Williams and Gatenby 2010; Katou and Budhwar 2010; Boon, Den Hartog,
Boselie and Paauwe 2011; Innocenti, Pilati and Peluso 2011; Mendelson, Turner and
Barling 2011; Messersmith et al. 2011; Alfes, Shantz, Truss and Soane 2013). However,
the mechanisms through which HPHRP affect employee outcomes still need more
research (Boon et al. 2011; Innocenti et al. 2011; Alfes et al. 2013). Several mechanisms
have been proposed such as trust (Innocenti et al. 2011; Alfes, Shantz and Truss 2012),
psychological contracts (Raeder, Knorr and Hilb 2012) and employee engagement (Alfes
et al. 2013). A further mechanism proposed by Boon et al. (2011) is person –organization
(P-O) fit. This mechanism has been extensively used in the organizational behaviour
literature, but has yet to be tested sufficiently in the HRM field (Boon et al. 2011).
Accordingly, this study examines the mediating effect of P-O fit on the relationship
between HPHRP, job satisfaction and organizational citizenship behaviours (OCBs). The
selection of job satisfaction (an attitude) and OCBs (a behaviour) is based on the premise

*Corresponding author. Email: Mostafaam@cf.ac.uk

q 2013 Taylor & Francis


The International Journal of Human Resource Management 277

that both significantly influence employee and organizational performance (Kim 2005;
Vilela, González and Ferrı́n 2008).
P-O fit describes the compatibility between the characteristics of employees and their
organizations (Kristof 1996). Although there are many studies that have examined the
effects of P-O fit on a similar range of employee outcomes as used in the HPHRP literature
(e.g. Zoghbi-Manrique de Lara 2008; Narayanan and Sekar 2009), fewer have considered
how P-O fit can be established. Boon et al. (2011) argue that HPHRP increase congruence
between employees and their organizations because, as a ‘package’, they communicate
organizational values and goals to employees. Accordingly, this study will examine the
effects of HPHRP on P-O fit.
Even though there is a growing body of research linking HPHRP with employee
outcomes in different regions of the world, there are no studies evaluating this link in the
Middle East. The current study will address this gap by analysing data based on a sample
of Egyptian public sector workers. Doing so will provide evidence of whether HPHRP will
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have similar effects on employees in a different national context. The study’s findings will
therefore make an important contribution to the development of HRM theory as we
increase the international breadth of empirical research on the link between HPHRP and
employee outcomes (Whetten 1989).
This paper will first discuss the primary theoretical mechanisms linking HPHRP to
employee job satisfaction and OCBs. It will then describe a potential mechanism, namely
P-O fit, through which HPHRP affect job satisfaction and OCBs. Following a description
of the research context and methodology, five hypotheses are tested using structural
equation modelling (SEM). The final section of the paper provides an analysis of the
study’s findings and discusses their implications for theory and managerial practice.

Relationships between HPHRP and employee outcomes


According to Appelbaum, Bailey, Berg and Kalleberg’s (2000) AMO theory,
organizational performance is a function of employee ability (A), motivation (M) and
opportunity to participate (O). This framework predicts that employees will perform well
in a job when: (1) they possess the knowledge and skills required to undertake their jobs
(abilities); (2) they are adequately interested and incentivized to work (motivation); and
(3) they are provided support and given opportunities to express themselves in the
workplace (opportunity to participate). Appelbaum et al. (2000) propose that specific HR
practices, often referred to as high performance work practices, are instrumental in this
regard. Practices such as recruitment, selection and training are seen as enhancing
employee abilities, whereas pay for performance and high wages are assumed to enhance
motivation. Job autonomy and involvement in decision-making are regarded as being
fundamental in promoting opportunities to participate and contribute discretionary effort.
Thus, management use of HPHRP can help positively influence employee attitudes and
behaviours (Boselie 2010).
The relationship between HPHRP and employee outcomes has been examined in many
studies, and the findings of most of these studies suggest that HPHRP are positively related
to employee outcomes such as job satisfaction, work motivation, commitment, intention to
quit and OCBs (e.g. Boselie 2010; Gould-Williams and Gatenby 2010; Katou and
Budhwar 2010; Boon et al. 2011; Innocenti et al. 2011; Messersmith et al. 2011). In this
study, the focus is on two outcomes – job satisfaction and OCBs – that have been shown
to have a significant influence on both employee and organizational performance (Kim
2005; Vilela et al. 2008).
278 A.M.S. Mostafa and J.S. Gould-Williams

Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction is one of the most studied work-related outcomes in organizational
research (Vilela et al. 2008). Job satisfaction is defined as ‘a pleasurable or positive
emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experience’ (Locke 1976,
p. 1304). Similarly, Spector (1997, p. 2) defines job satisfaction as ‘the extent to which
people like or dislike their jobs’. In contrast to these simple, overarching definitions, Chiu
and Chen (2005) differentiate between two dimensions of job satisfaction: intrinsic and
extrinsic satisfaction. Intrinsic satisfaction refers to the extent to which employees are
satisfied with factors related to the job itself, such as job independence, job variety, job
stability, sense of responsibility, creativity and sense of accomplishment. Extrinsic
satisfaction refers to employees’ satisfaction with factors not related to the job, such as
work conditions, policies and praise (Chiu and Chen 2005). Consistent with previous
research in the HRM field (see, e.g. Gould-Williams and Mohamed 2010; Messersmith
et al. 2011), this study will adopt the global view of job satisfaction, as advocated by
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Locke (1976) and Spector (1997).


Several reasons may help explain why HPHRP relate to job satisfaction (Messersmith
et al. 2011). The implementation of HPHRP should result in employees who have been
selected after undergoing a rigorous selection process. As such, employees should be
better suited to their posts. Similar effects should also be achieved by training and
development initiatives, in that employees are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs
as they are able to undertake their roles more effectively. Additionally, HPHRP allow for
higher levels of employment security, greater information sharing and tighter linkages
between individual performance and compensation, factors which should enhance
employee satisfaction.
Findings of recent studies suggest that HPHRP are positively related to job
satisfaction. For instance, examining individual HPHRP, Gould-Williams and Gatenby
(2010) found that performance-related reward schemes, training and development, and
performance appraisals had significant positive effects on the job satisfaction of local
government workers in the UK. Similarly, Katou and Budhwar (2010) reported that job
evaluation, compensation, promotion, incentives and benefits had significant positive
effects on the satisfaction of employees in Greek manufacturing organizations. Looking at
HPHRP as a package, Gould-Williams and Mohamed (2010) found, in a comparative
study, that HPHRP had significant positive effects on job satisfaction of employees in both
the UK and Malaysia. Similar findings were reported by Boon et al. (2011) in the
Netherlands, Innocenti et al. (2011) in Italy and Mendelson et al. (2011) in Canada.
Accordingly, the following hypothesis is proposed:
Hypothesis 1: HPHRP will positively affect employee job satisfaction.

Organizational citizenship behaviours


OCBs were first defined by Organ (1988, p. 4) as ‘individual behaviours that are
discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system and that in
the aggregate promote the effective functioning of the organization’. On the basis of this
definition, Organ (1988, 1990) proposed a seven-factor model of OCBs comprising
sportsmanship, civic virtue, conscientiousness, altruism, courtesy, peacekeeping and
cheerleading. In contrast, Williams and Anderson (1991) proposed just two components:
OCBs directed at individual employees and OCBs directed at the employing organization.
This simple, dichotomous taxonomy incorporates Organ’s seven components, in that
The International Journal of Human Resource Management 279

altruism, courtesy, peacekeeping and cheerleading behaviours are directed towards


individuals within the organization, whereas the conscientiousness (compliance), civic
virtue and sportsmanship dimensions are directed at the organization (Podsakoff, Whiting,
Podsakoff and Blume 2009). Emphasizing the dual foci of OCBs, Eatough, Chang,
Miloslavic and Johnson (2011, p. 620) recently defined the concept as ‘discretionary
behaviours that benefit organizations and their members by improving the social and
psychological context in which the technical core of the organization operates’ (italics
added).
OCBs differ from in-role task performance, in that in-role performance is formally
prescribed by the job, whereas OCBs are not (Podsakoff et al. 2009). OCBs involve
performing tasks beyond normal role requirements, such as assisting work colleagues with
their tasks, avoiding unnecessary conflicts, encouraging a positive work environment and
getting more involved in organizational activities (Kim 2005). Such behaviours help
improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public and private organizations (Kim 2005).
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According to Sun, Aryee and Law (2007), the adoption of HPHRP signals to
employees that organizations value them, which in turn motivates them to engage in
OCBs. The relationship between HPHRP and OCBs has been examined in a number of
studies, and the findings of most of these studies suggest that HPHRP are positively related
to OCBs. For instance, based on a sample of Indian employees, Biswas, Srivastava and
Giri (2007) reported that HPHRP had a significant positive effect on OCBs. Similarly,
Boselie (2010) and Boon et al. (2011) found that HPHRP positively affected OCBs of
Dutch employees, as too did Kehoe and Wright (2013) in the USA, and Snape and Redman
(2010) and Alfes et al. (2012) in England. In a comparative study between local
government workers in Malaysia and Wales, Gould-Williams and Mohamed (2010)
reported that HPHRP had significant positive effects on the OCBs. Therefore, based on
AMO theory and the empirical evidence presented above, it is hypothesized that:
Hypothesis 2: HPHRP will positively affect OCBs.

P-O fit: the mechanism linking HPHRP to employee outcomes


P-O fit is one of the most widely studied topics in the fields of organizational behaviour
and general management (Bright 2008). P-O fit is defined broadly as ‘the compatibility
between individuals and organizations’ (Kristof 1996, p. 3). More specifically, Kristof
(1996, p. 4) defines P-O fit as ‘the compatibility between people and organizations that
occurs when: (a) at least one entity provides what the other needs or (b) they share similar
fundamental characteristics or (c) both’. According to Muchinsky and Monahan (1987),
there are two main types of P-O fit: supplementary fit and complementary fit.
Supplementary fit is achieved when an individual possesses characteristics that are similar
to other individuals in an organization (Muchinsky and Monahan 1987). Complementary
fit is achieved when an individual’s characteristics add something that is missing to the
organization (Muchinsky and Monahan 1987). Thus, complementary fit is achieved when
an individual’s characteristics fill a gap in the organization or vice versa, in order to make
each other complete (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman and Johnson 2005). As this study
considers the extent of congruence between organizational and employee values in
achieving desirable employee outcomes, our definition of ‘fit’ is more akin to
‘supplementary fit’.
Schneider’s (1987) attraction – selection – attrition (ASA) framework helps explain
the means by which HPHRP affect fit between employees and their organizations
280 A.M.S. Mostafa and J.S. Gould-Williams

(Boon et al. 2011). This framework is one of the most influential models in the P-O fit
literature. The main idea of the ASA framework is that organizations attract, select and
retain people whose personal characteristics suit or fit the organization (Schneider, Smith,
Taylor and Fleenor 1998). According to the ASA framework, people are attracted to
different kinds of organizations based on their pre-entry beliefs of the organization’s
principal values and goals. Thereafter, organizations choose, through formal and informal
selection strategies, people who fit their values and goals. Finally, the theory proposes that
where individuals do not fit the organization’s core values and goals, they will tend to
leave. This, in part, reflects errors of judgement on the part of the persons who do not fit
and/or the organization that selected them in the first place (Schneider 1987). It may also
reflect unfulfilled expectations on the part of the employee.
HPHRP are believed to be one of the major factors that help match employees with
their organizations (i.e. achieving P-O fit). HPHRP such as selection, reward systems,
promotion and training and development consistently communicate organizational values
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and expectations to employees, which in turn should facilitate greater P-O fit (Boon et al.
2011).
A number of studies have examined the propositions underlying the ASA framework,
and their findings support the notion that HPHRP have an influence on P-O fit. For
instance, Carless (2005) found that applicants’ P-O fit perceptions positively affected the
attractiveness of the organization as a future employer. Similarly, Bretz and Judge (1994)
found that both pay level and promotional opportunities offered by the organization were
among the most important pre-entry factors affecting applicant job choice. Further,
Carless (2005) reported that during the selection process, applicants’ perceptions of fit
between their goals and values and those of the organization positively predicted the
desirability of the organization. From an organizational perspective, Cable and Judge
(1997) found that interviewers’ assessments of P-O fit affected their hiring decisions when
selecting new recruits. It should be noted that these studies use responses from pre-entry
candidates rather than existing employees. On entering the organization, Autry and
Wheeler (2005) reported that induction training was positively related to P-O fit.
Although these studies provide useful insights into the effects of HR practices on P-O
fit, they focus on individual HR practices rather than a coherent package of HPHRP.
Therefore, their results may overstate the effects of each of these practices on fit, as
individual practices have been found to act as proxy measures for overall packages of
HPHRP (Gould-Williams and Gatenby 2010). Recently, Boon et al. (2011) considered the
relationship between a set of complementary HR practices and P-O fit in the Netherlands.
Consistent with the research findings above, they reported that employee perceptions of
HPHRP were positively related to P-O fit. Our study adopts a similar approach, by testing
a package of HPHRP on P-O fit. On the basis of ASA theory and the empirical studies
reported above, the following hypothesis will be tested:
Hypothesis 3: HPHRP will positively affect P-O fit.
Several studies have tested the relationship between P-O fit and job satisfaction, and
the findings of these studies support the existence of a positive relationship. Lauver and
Kristof-Brown (2001) and Westerman and Cyr (2004) reported a positive relationship
between P-O fit and job satisfaction in the USA. Similar findings were reported by
Vilela et al. (2008) using a sample of workers in Spain; by Narayanan and Sekar (2009)
on a sample of Indian teachers; and by Iplik, Kilic and Yalcin (2011) on a sample of
hotel managers in Turkey. The relationship between P-O fit and OCBs has also been
examined in a number of recent studies, with positive relationships reported in the USA
The International Journal of Human Resource Management 281

(Lauver and Kristof-Brown 2001; Cable and DeRue 2002) and Spain (Zoghbi-Manrique
de Lara 2008).
In summary, high levels of P-O fit indicate congruence between organizational and
employee goals, values and expectations. According to theory and the evidence outlined
above, ‘fit’ should result in employees feeling more satisfied with their jobs and willing to
perform citizenship behaviours (Kristof 1996; Kristof-Brown et al. 2005). Accordingly, it
is hypothesized that:
Hypothesis 4: P-O fit will positively affect employee job satisfaction and OCBs.
Further, on the basis of ASA theory, we predict that one of the mechanisms through
which HPHRP affect job satisfaction and OCBs is P-O fit. Thus, the current study predicts
that the relationship between HPHRP and both job satisfaction and OCBs will be partially
mediated by P-O fit (Boon et al. 2011).
Hypothesis 5: P-O fit will partially mediate the relationship between HPHRP and
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employee job satisfaction and OCBs.

Research context: Egypt


Due to its strategic location and large population, Egypt has become an attractive market
for foreign investments and has one of the biggest economies in the Middle East (Keenan
2003). Religion plays a significant role in the daily lives of Egyptians, with Muslims
accounting for approximately 95% of the population (Hatem 1994; Leat and El-Kot 2007).
The influence of religion was evident when democratic elections were held following the
January 2011 revolution, where two-thirds of the seats of the first elected Egyptian
parliament (people’s assembly) were secured by Islamic parties (Khattab 2012). Also, the
first democratically held presidential elections resulted in a majority vote for Mohamed
Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, giving the first victory of an Islamist as a head of state
in the Arab world (Al-Anani 2013).
Islam has been found to shape the cultural values and beliefs of Egyptians (Keenan
2003; Ali 2010), and is assumed to have an effect on employee work-related values and
expectations along with management practice (Leat and El-Kot 2007). The Islamic work
ethic places much emphasis on self-discipline, industriousness, dedication to work,
workplace generosity, teamwork, consultation in decision-making and serving society
(Yousef 2001; Branine and Pollard 2010; Gould-Williams and Mohamed 2010).
Furthermore, the Islamic work ethic influences employees’ attitudes (they are more highly
committed and satisfied with their jobs) and behaviours (more likely to display OCBs;
Yousef 2001; Alhyasat 2012). However, as regards to management practice, it is argued
that there is a difference between what is expected according to Islamic principles and
what is actually practised by Egyptian and Arab managers (Branine and Pollard 2010).
Islamic management principles mainly seek to link organizational interests to those of
society (Ali 2010). However, because of economic pressures and attempts to reduce costs,
very few organizations in the Arab world, including Egypt, have incorporated Islamic
management principles in employment policies and practice (Ali 2010; Branine and
Pollard 2010). During recent years, organizations in Egypt have been exposed to more
international influences and it is believed that such influences have impacted the HRM
practices used by Egyptian organizations (Leat and El-Kot 2007). This study assesses the
influence of western management practices (HPHRP) on employee outcomes in the
Egyptian public sector.
282 A.M.S. Mostafa and J.S. Gould-Williams

Method
Sample and procedures
The target population for this study consists of professionals in the Egyptian health and
higher education sectors. Both the health and higher education sectors are responsible for
providing basic public services (Whitfield 2001). Including employees from these two
sectors with different professions and performing different tasks will ensure the robustness
of the results regarding their applicability to different professions and tasks (Andersen and
Pedersen 2012). The sampling units consist of Egyptian public hospitals physicians
(consultant, specialist and intern physicians), nurses and pharmacists, and Egyptian public
universities teaching staff (professors, assistant professors, lecturers, assistant lecturers
and demonstrators). The current study employed a convenience sample. In Egypt, data
collection is very difficult and Egyptians are not used to filling in questionnaires and
returning them back. Thus, when gathering primary data in Egypt, convenience sampling
is believed to be the most appropriate as it is likely that other sampling methods would not
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yield sufficient responses (Hatem 1994; Leat and El-Kot 2007).


A questionnaire survey was used to collect data in this study. The English
questionnaire was back-translated into Arabic and pretested by six professionals in the
health and higher education sectors in Egypt. The Arabic questionnaire was distributed to
1000 professionals in the health and higher education sectors, with 671 questionnaires
returned to the researchers, by the cut-off point – a response rate of 67%. Of the total
respondents, 340 respondents were employed in the health sector and 331 were employed
in higher education. In total, 53.5% were male; 51% of the respondents were aged between
20 and 30, 22% were aged between 31 and 40 and the rest were above 40. A total of 31% of
respondents had a PhD, 21% had a master’s degree, 42% had a bachelor’s degree and the
remainder had intermediate vocational education.
Non-response bias was assessed by comparing responses of early respondents to the
survey (first 10% of returned questionnaires) to the responses of late respondents (last 10%
of returned questionnaires), where late respondents were used as a proxy for non-
respondents (Armstrong and Overton 1977). Independent sample t-tests were conducted to
determine whether significant differences existed between the two groups of respondents.
The results showed that there were no significant differences in the response patterns of
early and late respondents, suggesting that non-response bias is not a problem in the
present study.

Measures
High performance HR practices
There is no agreement on which HR practices should be included in high performance HR
systems. However, according to Kehoe and Wright (2013), all the practices in high
performance HR systems focus on promoting employee ability, motivation and
opportunity (see Appelbaum et al. 2000). Accordingly, seven HR practices reflecting
the high performance approach and widely recognized as crucial for enhancing worker
abilities, motivation and opportunity were used in the current study (Appelbaum et al.
2000). These practices are the most widely used practices in the public and
government sector studies when examining the link between HR practices and employee
outcomes (e.g. Tessema and Soeters 2006; Gould-Williams 2007; Boselie 2010; Gould-
Williams and Mohamed 2010), and are used by Egyptian organizations (Sadler-Smith,
El-Kot and Leat 2003; Leat and El-Kot 2007). In particular, the practices included in the
The International Journal of Human Resource Management 283

current study were divided into ability-enhancing HR practices (selection, and training and
development), motivation-enhancing HR practices (job security, promotion and
performance-related pay) and opportunity-enhancing HR practices (autonomy and
communication).
A total of 28 items taken from previous research (Gould-Williams 2003; Yu and Egri
2005; Morgeson and Humphrey 2006; Macky and Boxall 2007; Sun et al. 2007; Zhang, Wan
and Jia 2008; Boselie 2010; Gould-Williams and Gatenby 2010; Kehoe and Wright 2013)
were used to measure employee perceptions of HPHRP. The 28 items were measured using
a seven-point Likert scale ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ (1) to ‘strongly agree’ (7).1
Cronbach’s alpha for the measures of the seven HR practices ranged between 0.77 and 0.92.

P-O fit
The measure of P-O fit in the current study is based on four items taken from Cable and
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Judge (1996), Bright (2007) and Park, Monnot, Jacob and Wagner (2011). These items are
based on employees’ perceptions of fit between their values and goals and those of their
organization. The use of perception ratings is extensively employed in P-O fit research as
they have been found to be better predictors of employee attitudes and behaviours (Bright
2007). The items used were: ‘My goals are very similar to the goals of my organization’;
‘My values match those of current employees in this organization’; ‘My values match the
values of my organization’; and ‘Overall, I think I fit well with my organization’. The
Cronbach’s alpha for this measure was 0.89.

Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction was measured using a three-item measure of overall job satisfaction
developed by Seashore, Lawler, Mirvis and Camman (1982). This ‘global’ scale is the
preferred measure of job satisfaction (Wanous, Reichers and Hudy 1997). It focuses on
employees’ perceptions of their job, rather than on different aspects of their work (such as
pay, supervision and co-workers), which in turn is more likely to result in fewer
methodological concerns (Wanous et al. 1997). The items used were: ‘In general, I like
working here’; ‘In general, I don’t like my job’; and ‘Overall, I am satisfied with my job’.
The Cronbach’s alpha for the job satisfaction measure was 0.77.

Organizational citizenship behaviours


OCBs were measured using five items from the scale developed by Lee and Allen (2002).
Two items tap behaviours that are beneficial to individuals and three items tap behaviours
that are beneficial to the organization. Sample items include ‘I willingly give up time to
help others who have work-related problems’ and ‘I offer ideas to improve the functioning
of the organization’. The Cronbach’s alpha for this five-item scale was 0.77.

Analysis and results


SEM was employed in the current study as the main method of data analysis. The AMOS
18 software program has been chosen to conduct the analysis and the maximum likelihood
estimation (MLE), which is the most widely used SEM estimation method, was used. MLE
is a flexible approach to parameter estimation and has proven to be quite robust against
violations of the multivariate normality assumption (Iacobucci 2009; Hair, Black, Babin
and Anderson 2010).
284 A.M.S. Mostafa and J.S. Gould-Williams

The data analysis followed Anderson and Gerbing’s (1988) two-step procedure, which
involved estimating the measurement model before estimating the proposed structural model.

Measurement validation
First, the items measuring each HR practice were combined forming seven components or
parcels that were treated as indicators of the HPHRP construct in the structural equation
analyses. The internal reliability of each of the parcels was estimated using Cronbach’s
alpha, and dimensionality was assessed using exploratory factor analysis (EFA; Kishton
and Widaman 1994). As mentioned above, the Cronbach’s alpha values ranged between
0.77 and 0.92 for the measures of the seven HR practices. The EFA results also support the
unidimensionality of all the parcels where only one component was extracted for each
parcel and the percentage of variance explained for all parcels was more than 60%.
In the next step, the measurement relationships were analysed and the reliability and
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validity of all the study constructs were evaluated using confirmatory factor analysis
(CFA). The evaluation of the measurement model was conducted in two stages, where in
the first, CFA was conducted for each individual construct and in the second, CFA was
conducted for the overall measurement model in which all the major latent constructs were
correlated with each other. As recommended by Hair et al. (2010), a combination of fit
indices was used to assess model fit. The normed chi-square (x 2/df), the goodness-of-fit
index (GFI) and the root-mean-square error of approximation (RMSEA) were used as
absolute fit indices, and the comparative fit index (CFI) and the Tucker – Lewis index (TLI)
were used as incremental fit indices.
A second-order measurement model of HPHRP (indicated by the latent factors: ability­
enhancing practices, motivation-enhancing practices and opportunity-enhancing practices) was
tested. For each primary factor, the manifest indicators consisted of the item parcels (i.e.
individual HR practices), which were created as outlined above. The overall measurement
model fit was very good (all factor loadings were significant at p , 0.001, and the fit indices
were: x 2/df ¼ 3.380, GFI ¼ 0.944, TLI ¼ 0.951, CFI ¼ 0.961 and RMSEA ¼ 0.060). Both
the composite reliability and average variance extracted were also calculated and the results
revealed that the constructs possessed high internal consistency where all the composite
reliability scores were more than 0.70 and the average variance extracted scores were more than
0.50 (Hair et al. 2010). Discriminant validity was also assessed by comparing the square root of
the average variance extracted for each construct with the correlation estimates between
constructs (Hair et al. 2010). Table 1 shows the inter-construct correlations and the reliability
estimates for the study constructs. As shown in Table 1, the square root of the variance extracted
estimate for each construct was higher than the corresponding inter-construct correlation
estimates, suggesting that all the constructs in the study represent different concepts. Moreover,
the correlation coefficients among the study constructs do not exceed 0.85, indicating that
multicollinearity does not appear to be a problem (Kline 2005).
Table 1. Inter-correlations and reliability estimates.
Construct 1 2 3 4
1. HR practices 0.98 (0.99)
2. Person-Organization fit 0.78 0.87 (0.90)
3. Job satisfaction 0.60 0.62 0.73 (0.76)
4. OCBs 0.71 0.71 0.69 0.73 (0.77)
Note: Sub-diagonal entries are the latent construct inter-correlations. The first entry on the diagonal is square root
of the AVE, whilst the second entry in parenthesis is the composite reliability score.
The International Journal of Human Resource Management 285

Finally, since all the study variables were measured using the same source, the effects
of common method bias were examined. Common method bias refers to the statistical
variance caused by the method of measurement rather than the constructs the measure
represents (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee and Podsakoff 2003). The Harman’s single-factor
test was conducted with the use of CFA to check for the presence of common method bias.
A measurement model was tested in which all the indicators were loaded onto a
single factor representing a common influence. This model had an extremely poor fit x 2/
df ¼ 9.149, CFI ¼ 0.592, GFI ¼ 0.592, TLI ¼ 0.574 and RMSEA ¼ 0.110), suggesting
that common method bias is unlikely to be a concern in the current study.

Structural model estimation


Figure 1 provides the conceptual model that was tested in this study with a summary of the
results. As shown in the model, HPHRP have direct as well as indirect effects (through P-O
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fit) on job satisfaction and OCBs. P-O fit, therefore, partially mediates the relationship
between HPHRP and employee outcomes. Even though theoretically, job satisfaction leads
to OCBs, the focus of the current study is on the mechanisms through which HPHRP affect
employee outcomes. Therefore, a simplified model has been adopted in this study leaving
more complicated theoretical arguments for future work. Nevertheless, to account for the
association between OCBs and job satisfaction, the assumption of independence between the
latent constructs’ residual errors was relaxed as indicated by the dotted arrow in Figure 1 (i.e.
the latent errors of job satisfaction and OCBs have been correlated; Im and Workman 2004).
The results revealed that the proposed structural model provided a good fit to the data
(x 2/df ¼ 3.380, CFI ¼ 0.961, GFI ¼ 0.944, TLI ¼ 0.951 and RMSEA ¼ 0.060). In this
model, HPHRP and P-O fit together explained 42% of the variance in job satisfaction
(R 2 ¼ 0.420) and almost 57% of the variance in OCBs (R 2 ¼ 0.569). Moreover, HPHRP
accounted for 60% of the variance of P-O fit (R 2 ¼ 0.602).
All the hypothesized direct relationships were supported by the structural model data.2
Consistent with the HR literature, it was found that HPHRP had significant positive effects
on job satisfaction (b ¼ 0.304, p , 0.001) and OCBs (b ¼ 0.397, p , 0.001). The
analysis further revealed that HPHRP had significant positive effects on P-O fit
(b ¼ 0.776, p , 0.001), which in turn had significant positive effects on job satisfaction
(b ¼ 0.383, p , 0.001) and OCBs (b ¼ 0.404, p , 0.001).

Test of mediation effects


To test for mediation effects, two structural models were compared. The first model
positions P-O fit in a fully mediating role between HPHRP and both job satisfaction and

Job
0.30***
Satisfaction
0.38***

0.78***
HPHRP P-O Fit

0.40***

0.40*** OCBs

Figure 1. Conceptual model results.


286 A.M.S. Mostafa and J.S. Gould-Williams

OCBs. The second model (the theoretical model of the study) allows for both direct and
indirect effects (mediated through P-O fit) of HPHRP on job satisfaction and OCBs. Since
the first model is nested within the second, a x 2 difference test can be performed to
determine whether P-O fit fully mediates or only partially mediates the effect of HPHRP
on job satisfaction and OCBs. This approach to testing mediation is consistent with
previous studies that have examined mediation hypotheses (e.g. Brown, Mowen, Donavan
and Licata 2002; Yen and Gwinner 2003). Table 2 shows the results of the structural
equation analyses for both the full and partial mediation models. As reported in Table 2,
both structural models fit the data well. The x 2 difference test comparing the fully
mediated model and the partially mediated model suggests that the partially mediated
model provides the best fit for the data (x 2 difference ¼ 43.48, df ¼ 2, p , 0.001).3
The results revealed that P-O fit partially mediated the relationship between HPHRP
and both job satisfaction and OCBs. Therefore, Hypothesis 5 is supported. Thus, it could
be argued that HPHRP have both direct and indirect effects on job satisfaction and OCBs.
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Discussion
At the outset of this paper, we highlighted that the mechanisms through which HPHRP are
linked to employee outcomes have received little attention from researchers (Boon et al.
2011; Innocenti et al. 2011). The current study has addressed this gap by examining the
mediating effect of one such mechanism, P-O fit, on the relationship between HPHRP and
employees’ job satisfaction and OCBs. As the study is based on a sample of Egyptian
public sector workers, it contributes to the HRM literature by extending the empirical
evidence of the effects of HPHRP to the Middle East. The findings of the current study
provide additional support for the positive effects of HPHRP on job satisfaction and OCBs
of public sector employees. Although religion may have some influence on the attitudes
and behaviours of Egyptian employees (Leat and El-Kot 2007), management practice also
plays a role. This finding is consistent with the rationale of AMO theory, the findings of
previous research in western contexts and research undertaken in private sector
organizations (e.g. Gould-Williams and Gatenby 2010; Boon et al. 2011; Innocenti et al.
2011; Kehoe and Wright 2013). Thus, the study’s findings add weight to the argument that
the effects of HPHRP are not confined to Anglo-Saxon countries, or private sector

Table 2. Results of structural equation analyses for full mediation and partial mediation models.
Full mediation model Partial mediation model
Structural paths Standardized path coefficient Standardized path coefficient
HPHRP ! Job satisfaction 0.304***
HPHRP ! OCBs 0.397***
HPHRP ! P-O fit 0.795*** 0.776***
P-O fit ! Job satisfaction 0.640*** 0.383***
P-O fit ! OCBs 0.737*** 0.404***
Model fit statistics
x2 364.544 321.060
df 97 95
RMSEA 0.064 0.060
CFI 0.954 0.961
TLI 0.944 0.951
GFI 0.937 0.944

***p , 0.001.
The International Journal of Human Resource Management 287

organizations, but are evident across different cultures and labour markets (Gould-
Williams and Mohamed 2010).
The study supports the proposition that achieving congruence between the values and
goals of individuals and their organizations (i.e. P-O fit) is an important factor in
determining employee attitudes and behaviours (Cable and DeRue 2002; Zoghbi-
Manrique de Lara 2008; Narayanan and Sekar 2009; Iplik et al. 2011). When employees
feel that there is a close fit between their values and goals and those of their organization,
they will be more satisfied with their jobs and more willing to display citizenship
behaviours. It is worth noting that both HPHRP and P-O fit accounted for a significant
proportion of variance in job satisfaction (42%) and OCBs (57%). Thus, both HPHRP and
P-O fit are powerful predictors of employee attitudes and behaviours in public sector
organizations.
Several researchers have highlighted the need to undertake research examining the
antecedents of P-O fit (e.g. Bright 2008; Boon et al. 2011). The present study has
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addressed this gap by examining the effects of HPHRP on employees’ fit with their
organizations. Consistent with the rationale of the ASA framework and evidence from
previous research (Boon et al. 2011), our findings revealed that employee perceptions of
HPHRP had significant positive effects on P-O fit. The findings further revealed that
HPHRP accounted for the majority (60%) of the variance in P-O fit. As Boon et al. (2011)
reported that HPHRP explained 29% of variance in P-O fit, the results presented here
suggest that HPHRP are especially critical in shaping the values and goals of employees in
the Egyptian context, as they explained twice the amount of variance in P-O fit in
comparison to workers in the Netherlands.
The results of testing the mediating effect of P-O fit on the relationship between
HPHRP and both job satisfaction and OCBs revealed that P-O fit had a partially mediating
effect. This demonstrates that HPHRP help orient employees towards organizational
values and goals, which in turn positively influences their satisfaction and citizenship
behaviours.
As regards to control variables, it was noted that gender and work sector had no
significant effects on both job satisfaction and OCBs. Age was also found to have no
significant effect on OCBs, but had significant positive effects on job satisfaction. This
finding is consistent with the findings of previous studies (e.g. Lee and Wilbur 1985;
Bellou 2010). According to Lee and Wilbur (1985), as older workers adjust their
expectations on the basis of past experiences within the organization, they tend to be more
satisfied than younger workers who have higher and often unfulfilled expectations.
Finally, years of experience had no significant effect on job satisfaction, but had a
significant positive effect on OCBs. This means that employees with more work
experience were more willing to display OCBs but were not more satisfied with their work.
This is in line with what was suggested by Messersmith et al. (2011), where they argued
that employees with longer work experience are likely to possess a better understanding of
organizational values and goals, and a more in-depth awareness of specific tasks and
processes related to their jobs. This may then enable them to engage in work behaviours
that are beneficial to the organizations.

Conclusion
The aim of this study was to examine a potential mechanism, namely P-O fit, through which
HPHRP affect employees’ job satisfaction and OCBs. The findings are consistent with the
study’s hypotheses and existing research. HPHRP not only had a direct effect, but also an
288 A.M.S. Mostafa and J.S. Gould-Williams

indirect effect on employee outcomes through their influence on P-O fit. Thus, both HPHRP
and P-O fit are important independent factors explaining employee work-related outcomes.
Therefore, managers should endeavour to adopt HPHRP that enhance the abilities and
motivation of their workforce, and create for them opportunities to use their skills within the
workplace. This, according to our study, should facilitate greater fit between employees’
and organizational values and goals. In turn, increased fit will benefit organizations through
greater employee satisfaction and willingness to display citizenship behaviours. As such, it
could be argued that HPHRP are not only beneficial to western organizations, but have
positive effects when applied in Egyptian public sector organizations. To facilitate ‘fit’ on
entry to the organization, HR managers in Egyptian organizations should provide job
seekers with opportunities to learn about the culture and values of their organization in order
for them to assess whether the organization is likely to fit well with their own personal
values (Kim 2012). Managers should also provide employees with effective training both in
terms of undertaking the tasks associated with their jobs, and enhancing employees’ career
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prospects. Such training should be consistent with the organization’s missions and
objectives and should be introduced at the induction phase. Moreover, managers should
communicate critical organizational values and goals to employees through meaningful
channels and do so on a regular basis. Employees should also be provided with greater
autonomy and opportunities to participate in strategic planning and goal setting, which in
turn should increase the alignment of their goals and those of the organization.
The findings of the current study should be interpreted with consideration of a number
of limitations. First, as with most research in management studies, the cross-sectional
design of the current study does not allow for any conclusions regarding causality.
Although the analysis shows that the proposed relationships exist with the cross-sectional
data set, causal relationships from these findings cannot be claimed. Future studies would
benefit from testing the current study’s model within a longitudinal design. Second, this
study limited employee outcome variables to job satisfaction and OCBs. While these are
key outcomes which have been linked with improved performance, future studies,
specifically in Middle Eastern countries, should examine a different range of employee
outcomes, such as job performance, quit intentions and organizational commitment,
in order to confirm whether the positive findings reported in this study are replicated across
a range of employee outcomes. Future work should also consider the potential negative
effects of HPHRP. In other words, it is possible that HPHRP may not only enhance
employees’ attitudes to work but also potentially lead to increased stress and work-related
pressures. Finally, the findings of the current study are limited to professionals in the
Egyptian health and higher education sectors and cannot be generalized to the Egyptian
context as a whole. Future studies may also wish to assess whether the results presented
here can be extrapolated across other public and private sector organizations in Egypt.
In spite of its strategic location and economic importance, there is a shortage of
management research in Egypt. Therefore, we hope that the findings reported here,
demonstrating the positive effects of HPHRP on employee outcomes, will offer an
encouraging base on which to conduct further management research in Egypt.

Notes
1. Unless otherwise stated, all responses were on a seven-point Likert scale in which 1 ¼ ‘Strongly
disagree’ and 7 ¼ ‘Strongly agree’.
2. The structural model was tested with and without the control variables (age, gender, sector and
years of experience), and in both the cases, the hypotheses testing results were similar. Only
age had a significant effect on job satisfaction and the effect was positive ( p , 0.001). With
The International Journal of Human Resource Management 289

regards to OCBs, only years of experience had a significant effect, and the effect was also
positive ( p , 0.001).
3. A x 2 difference test was also conducted for the partial mediation model and a direct
effects model which only included paths from HPHRP and P-O fit to employee outcomes.
The results also suggest that the partial mediation model provides the best fit for the data
(x 2 difference ¼ 449.1, df ¼ 1, p , 0.001).

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