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Mentor-mentee match in workplace mentoring relationships




Marshall, Alyssa D., author
Kraiger, Kurt, advisor
Gibbons, Alyssa, committee member
Conner, Bradley, committee member
Maynard, Travis, committee member

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Mentoring programs are increasingly common in organizations. However, little research has addressed the optimal way to pair mentors and mentees together on deep-level characteristics. Person-Environment Fit Theory provides two possible ways to conceptualize fit. Supplementary fit emphasizes the importance of similarity, and complementary fit emphasizes the importance of meeting one another's needs. This study examined the effects of supplementary and complementary fit between mentors and mentees on three mentoring outcomes – relationship effectiveness, mentee learning, and mentee job performance. This study is unique in that, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first study to assess multiple conceptualizations of mentor-mentee fit, and to examine their respective impacts on outcomes for mentees. I collected data from 145 mentor-mentee pairs employed in various universities, and analyzed it using structural equation modeling. A revised measurement and structural model was a good fit to the data. The results suggest that both supplementary and complementary fit significantly and independently predict mentoring relationship quality, which in turn, predicts mentee job performance. Neither conceptualization of fit directly predicted mentee learning. The results of this study imply that organizational mentoring programs should assess both supplementary and complementary fit between mentors and mentees. By doing so, organizations can take steps towards ensuring that employees have high quality mentoring relationships and that mentees will be able to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. This study is valuable in that it has clarified the relationship between mentor-mentee match and outcomes of workplace mentoring. However, future research should aim to replicate these findings with mentor-mentee samples in other fields and industries.


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