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Personality Homogeneity in Organizations and Occupations: Considering Similarity Sources

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to investigate organizational and occupational homogeneity, compare homogeneity at different levels of composition, and uncover a mechanism for homogeneity.

Design/Methodology/Approach

Data were obtained from an archival data base of current employees (N = 23,933) in 40 organizations, 19 major job groupings, 42 minor job groupings, and 115 detailed job titles.

Findings

Support for homogeneity within organizations and occupations was found, regardless of the granularity with which occupation were defined. Homogeneity estimates were smaller than prior estimates in the literature based on smaller, less diverse samples. Occupational homogeneity was significantly greater than homogeneity at the organizational level for neuroticism and extraversion. As a potential mechanism, we demonstrated that occupational interest could predict personality at the occupational level.

Implications

Investigating homogeneity effects with a large, representative sample and simultaneously considering occupation and organization helps to advance our theoretical understanding of the Attraction–Selection–Attrition process. This study provides evidence of relative homogeneity effects and mechanisms. Such knowledge could help inform the selection, training, and socialization tactics employed by practitioners.

Originality/Value

Little is currently known about how within-occupation homogeneity in personality relates to within-organization homogeneity, or the influence of vocational interests on such homogeneity. We provide a methodological update to decompose and compare organizational and occupational influence on personality homogeneity. We also assess homogeneity at three levels of occupational granularity, and delineate a mechanism for personality to become homogeneous at the occupation level.

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Notes

  1. An initial inspection of MCMC results revealed that a lag of 100 was necessary to minimize autocorrelations of the estimates for each parameter. Thus, we performed 130,000 iterations of the MCMC algorithm with 30,000 burn-in iterations and a thinning parameter of 100. We checked convergence of solutions by inspecting the parameter estimation plots for random effects (see Finch et al. 2014).

  2. We conducted additional exploratory analyses to understand why the Data-Ideas dimension negatively predicted extraversion at the occupation level. We identified the role of enterprising interests as a plausible post hoc justification. At the occupation level, enterprising interest was positively correlated with extraversion, r = .54 and negatively correlated with Data-Ideas, r = −.68. It appeared possible that the negative association between Data-Ideas and occupation-level extraversion was driven by enterprising interests. To assess this possibility, we added enterprising interests as a predictor of extraversion, and found that enterprising interests positively predicted extraversion, whereas Data-Ideas became no longer significant (fixed effect = .00, p = .58).

  3. We would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for this suggestion.

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Correspondence to Danielle D. King.

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King, D.D., Ott-Holland, C.J., Ryan, A.M. et al. Personality Homogeneity in Organizations and Occupations: Considering Similarity Sources. J Bus Psychol 32, 641–653 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-016-9459-4

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Keywords

  • Attraction–Selection–Attrition
  • Vocational choice
  • Organizational homogeneity
  • Occupational homogeneity
  • Personality
  • Interests