Attraction-Selection-Attrition Framework

Understanding organizational behavior

History and Orientation

Schneider (1987) asserted that “the people make the place” and that organizational culture, climate and practices are determined by the people in the organization. This theory is closely related to psychology. This theory is part of the socialization process, whereby new members in organizations according tot the framework fit in a specificorganization. For over 100 years discussions are held on the influence of situational variables - such as groups, technology, structure, environment - on organizational behavior. Schneider argues that the psychologists have failed to incorporate people types into our theories of organizations.

In 1995 the ASA Framework was updated. Schneider already mentioned that the person is particularly important in the organizational context. Schneider et al (1995) now added the dimension that the people are responsible for the structure, processes and culture of the organization.

Core Assumptions and Statements

Statement: ‘attributes of people, not the nature of external environment, or organizational technology, or organizational structure, are the fundamental determinants of organizational behavior’ (Schneider, 1987). The people are functions of an Attraction-Selection-Attrition cycle.

Attraction: People are differentially attracted to careers as a function of their own interests and personality (Holland, 1985). Other signs of attraction are researched by Tom (1971) and Vroom (1966). They have stated that people search environments that fit by their personality and that people would like to obtain their outcomes by selecting a specific organization.

Selection: Organizations select people who they think are compatible for many different kinds of jobs. In that way organizations end up choosing people who share many common personal attributes, although they may not share common competencies.

Attrition: The opposite side of attraction. When people do not fit an environment they tend to leave it. When people leave the environment a more homogenous group stays than those were initially attracted to the organization.

Implications of the model are 1) the difficulty of bringing about change in organizations: Organizations have great difficulty when trying to change, because they not contain people with the appropriate inclinations. When the environment changes an organization will not be aware and probably not be capable of changing. 2) the utility of personality and interest measures for understanding organizational behavior: It is difficult for an organization to apply these topics for individual employees, who all have different compatibilities. This model makes it clear that reaching conclusions for the best structure more information is needed on the kinds of people working in the organization. 3) the genesis of organizational climate and culture: climate and culture are not easily defined in an organization, most often they exist when people share a common set of assumptions, values and beliefs. 4) the importance of recruitment: on personnel selection is paid a lot of attention. Surprisingly, on personnel recruitment, in which way do we communicate on vacancies, is not paid much attention. 5) the need for person-based theories of leadership and job attitudes. The research on this area is depressing according to Schneider (1987). We believe that the attitudes of people are created by the conditions of the work place.

Conceptual Model

Not applicable.

Favorite Methods

Predominant qualitative, for example Q-Sort and Survey. For criticism see Edwards (1994) and Edwards and Parry (1993).

Scope and Application

This model can be used for better understanding organizations. The ASA model is a critical model on the current situational theories of organizations. The ASA model can help analyzing ‘common thoughts’ of organizations.

Example

Chatman (1989) developed a Q-sort technique with which individuals can reveal their personal values and through which incumbents already at work in organizations can reveal the values of the organization. They (O’Reilly et al., 1991) show that when the fit of personal values to organizational values to organizational values is high, employees are less likely to turnover. By inference it follows that if people who are fit are more likely to stay in an organization, then over time, the environment will become more homogeneous because similar people will stay in the organization and dissimilar ones will leave.

Example from Schneider et al (1995), p 755-756.

References

Key publications

Schneider, B. (1987). The people make the place. Personnel Psychology, 40, 437-453.

Schneider, B., Goldstein, H.W. & Smith, D.B. (1995). The ASA Framework: An Update. Personnel Psychology, 48, 747-779.

Diener, E.L. & Emmons, R.A. (1984). Person X situation interactions: Choice of situations and congruence response models. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 580-592.

Locke, E.A. (ed.) (1986). Generalizing from laboratory to field settings. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

 

Holland, J.L. (1985). Making vocational choices: A theory of careers. Englewood Cliffs: NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Tom, V.R. (1971). The role of personality and organizational images in the recruiting process. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 6, 573-592.

Vroom, V.R. (1966). Organizational choice: A study of pre- and post-decision processes. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 1, 212-226.

Edwards, J. R. (1994). The study of congruence in organizational behavior research: Critique and proposed alternative. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 58, 683 - 689.

Edwards, J. R., & Parry, M. E. (1993). On the use of polynomial regression equations as an alternative to difference scores in organizational research. Academy of Management Journal, 36, 1577 - 1613.

See also Organizational Communication & Public Relations, Marketing and Consumer Behavior.