Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

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Volume 82 Issue 2 (June 2009), Pages 233-463

Met expectations: The effects of expected and delivered inducements on employee satisfaction (pages 431-451)

Interpretation of existing theory and research on met expectations is problematic due to ambiguous conceptualization of the met expectations hypothesis and limitations imposed by the measurement strategies typically employed in this domain (i.e. difference scores and direct retrospective measures). In this longitudinal study, we sought to overcome these problems by using an alternative methodology to conduct a more comprehensive test of the met expectations hypothesis based on Warr's (1987) Vitamin Model and on research in related fields (e.g. person–environment fit). Polynomial regression and response surface analyses were used to examine how employee satisfaction is related to unmet, met, and exceeded expectations concerning two distinct types of inducements analogous to vitamins A (skill development opportunities) and E (support, compensation). Respondents included 342 limited term employees. Consistent with previous research, our results indicated that unmet expectations of any sort were associated with decreased satisfaction. However, contrary to common interpretations of the extant literature, our results also indicated that met expectations were not always associated with high levels of satisfaction and that exceeded expectations were, in the case of skill development, negatively associated with satisfaction. These findings suggest a need to broaden existing met expectations theory and to refine common organizational practices.

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