Insights into the Lived Experience of Misfits at Work: A Netnographic Study

Jon Billsberry, Brenda Mae Hollyoak, Danielle L. Talbot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Despite its centrality in person-environment fit theorizing, employees’ perceptions of misfit are not well understood. One reason is that misfits are very difficult to study because misfit tends to be a temporary condition and misfits are concealed, relatively scarce, disconnected from each other, widely dispersed, and their occurrence largely unpredictable. To circumvent these logistic challenges, this empirical paper explores employees’ perceptions of misfit through their public online blogs about their lived experience of being a misfit at work. Netnography was used to trawl the internet for first-person expressions of misfit. 72 narratives were captured and analysed. The findings show that in 73% of cases where the form of misfit could be identified, these people talk about a form of misfit grounded in the social world at work. Two forms of this socially oriented misfit could be teased apart: episodic and repeating misfit. Being a misfit was a negative, confusing, and unwanted condition revolving around difficulties in social communication, social interaction, social integration, and differences between people rather than differences between people and organizations. The paper ends with a discussion of how the findings complement existing knowledge about perceived misfit and suggests avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-215
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date14 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2023


  • Misfit
  • netnography
  • person-environment fit
  • person-organization fit
  • value incongruence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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