Imprint-Environment Fit and Performance: How Organizational Munificence at the Time of Hire Affects Subsequent Job Performance
Administrative Science Quarterly, 2014, Forthcoming.
57 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 3, 2014
Using a longitudinal study of professionals in two information technology services firms, as well as interview data, this paper illuminates how organizational fortunes influence individual performance over time, examining how the economic situation of an organization leaves a lasting imprint on new employees and how that imprint affects subsequent job performance. The core hypothesis, supported by the results, is that the more similar the initially experienced level of organizational munificence is to the level of munificence in a subsequent period, the higher an individual’s job performance. This relationship between what I call “imprint-environment fit” and performance is contingent on the individual’s career stage when entering the organization and the influence of secondhand imprinting resulting from the social transmission of others’ imprints. A possible implication of the core hypothesis may be a “curse of extremes,” whereby both very high and very low levels of initial munificence are associated with lower average performance during a person’s subsequent tenure. One mechanism underlying these patterns is that employees socialized in different resource environments develop distinct approaches to problem solving and client interactions, which then lead to varying levels of imprint- environment fit in subsequent resource environments.
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