So, you’ve nailed that job interview and earned your ideal job in a foreign country…

But now you’re worried about whether or not you’ll fit in.

Fitting into a new company environment can be difficult in your own culture, let alone in a foreign one with its cross-cultural complexities.

But don’t fret – while you will certainly have to work at it, this research gives us some ideas about how to build social capital and leverage it to achieve person-job and person-organization fit.


The study published in the International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management discusses the importance of identifying and recruiting employees who not only possess the necessary knowledge and skills, but also have values that align with those of the organization. 

This is known as person-environment (PE) fit theory, with person-job (PJ) and person-organization (PO) fit being particularly relevant. 

Existing research has largely focused on the outcomes of fit, but the dynamics and interrelationships among different types of fit are not well understood. 

The social dynamics of building and exercising social capital are critical for newcomers to achieve higher levels of fit with their job and organization. 

Two specific dynamics are identified: leveraging person-group and person-supervisor fit to build social capital and using social capital to achieve person-job and person-organization fit.


Without a doubt, developing a good fit with one’s direct supervisor and work group helps new employees to develop structural and relational social capital in the organization, which ultimately leads to greater person-job and person-organization fit.

These social processes, however, are culture-bound

For example, a study by Monge and Eisenberg (1987) found that Japanese employees form stronger connections with colleagues than French employees

In general, an individual’s cultural background can impact the development and dynamics of their social relationships. 

One aspect of this lies in the two cultural dimensions – individualism-collectivism and power distance – and how they influence social capital building and utilization. 

While these dimensions are not necessarily independent (collectivist societies tend to have higher power distances), they should be treated as distinct concepts.

Let’s take a look at individualism-collectivism first.


Collectivism and individualism refer to the extent to which people in a culture prioritize group or individual goals. 

The study found that those in individualist cultures are more selective about forming connections with people who share similar values and personalities, while in collectivist cultures, a broader range of commonalities may be relevant. 

This means that in collectivist cultures, surface-level similarities between individuals may be more important for social capital building, while in individualist cultures, deep-level similarities may be more critical.

The authors argue that in collectivist societies, where members of the in-group are expected to contribute to the benefit of the group rather than engaging in behaviors that reach beyond the group boundary, newcomers with a high level of person-group fit (PG fit) will be less likely to develop social relationships beyond their group in order not to jeopardize their social ties in their immediate work group. 

This means that PG fit will have a weaker effect on building social capital in collectivist societies than in individualist societies. 

In contrast, in individualist societies, competences and social ties are more important in determining the behavior of information exchange, which consequently enhances person-job fit (PJ fit). 

As a result, structural social capital may be more applicable in individualist cultures because it represents an exchangeable resource (in terms of the quantity/quality of ties one possesses). 

In contrast, in collectivist societies, people rely more on affective criteria in framing their exchange behavior, and thus relational social capital matters more in predicting PJ fit through knowledge and information sharing.

Next week, we’ll examine this fit further, in relation to power distance.

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