Department of Psychology
The University of Houston
126 Heyne Building
Houston, TX 77204-5522
(713) 743-8500

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L. A. Witt, Ph.D.

L. A. Witt

Professor of Psychology (College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences)
Professor of Management (C. T. Bauer College of Business)
Director of Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Ph.D, Tulane University

Heyne Building, Room 126


PSYC 3310: Introduction to I/O Psychology
PSYC 6371: Personnel Psychology
PSYC 7397: Organizational Psychology
PSYC 8393: Field work in organizational development

Teaching Philosophy

Integration of responsibilities: Teaching, research, and public service comprise the mission of university faculty. Accordingly, I apply insights shared with me by students and members of the business community to the development of research questions in my program of research. Moreover, I discuss state-of-the-art advances in the research literature (including in-press findings not yet available to the general public) and current events in the business world during presentations to both students and members of the business community.

Expertise: I serve as instructor only of courses in which I have developed content expertise from practical experience as a former manager in the private sector and as an applied researcher. Moreover, I strive to maintain currency by reading and contributing to the research and lay business literatures as well as by attending professional conferences and communicating regularly with members of the business community.

Relationships: Years ago, a Frenchman was quoted as saying, "You’re not a good lover unless your lover thinks you are." Similarly, I suggest that you are not a good teacher unless your students think you are. A healthy relationship between the teacher and student is essential for an effective learning experience. I view my students as valued customers and future business colleagues and strive to treat them accordingly.

Learning environment: To effectively serve my customers (i.e., students), I proactively and explicitly use as examples in classroom discussion the names of persons reflecting the demographic diversity of the classroom (e.g., Marcus Garvey, Nelson Mandela, MLK, Jr., Carly Fiorini, Alexander Bustamente, M. K. Ghandi, Hugo Chavez, Hu Jiantao, etc.). I also use non-sexist and non-biased language and ask the students to do the same (e.g., reminding students to not always refer to generic managers as "he"). Most importantly, in line with research on interactional justice, I make an effort to respect students, treat them with dignity, and encourage their active participation.

Methods: It has been my experience that employees and managers in the "real world" seldom are asked to prepare research papers on the job. However, managers frequently make presentations in front of others. Therefore, I ask each undergraduate student to make a presentation at least once a semester. Typically, these presentations require the students to demonstrate their mastery of course content as well as insights into work situations of personal relevance. In addition, we often engage in theoretically relevant self-discovery and problem-solving exercises.

Outcomes: I expect my students to be positioned to leverage their newly acquired knowledge and insights to: (1) increase their competitive advantage in the workplace, and (2) enhance their quality of work and non-work life experiences through improved interpersonal effectiveness. Many of my students have cited promotions, improved relationships with others, admission to doctoral programs, and professional awards and recognition as reflecting applications of insights gained from participation in my courses.

Expectations for graduate students: I expect graduate students to maintain the highest level of ethical behavior and to apply considerable effort and demonstrate excellence in terms of: (1) technical and interpersonal competency acquisition through coursework and participation in applied projects; (2) tangible research performance (i.e., conference presentations and top-tier journal publications) through participation in multiple research projects; and (3) professional engagement (i.e., proactive participation in projects, professional association functions, program and departmental activities, and cohort support). Incoming students are expected to “hit the ground running” before arriving in Houston by working with faculty on papers to submit to the SIOP conference in early September.

Research Interest

Strategy-culture alignment
Customer service
Social and political skill
Work performance (e.g., adaptive performance, core task performance, and counterproductive behavior)
Employee selection
Organizational politics and support
Work-family interface

Research Philosophy

Research is the cornerstone of any successful university and is the primary standard by which a university and its faculty are measured. Recognizing my obligations to my students and university to maintain currency, to the academic disciplines of psychology and organizational science to contribute new knowledge, and to managers to help them solve problems, I continuously strive to:

  • Develop and identify theory-based links between management practices and relevant work outcomes, such as organization-level productivity, profit, and turnover and individual-level attitudes and performance.
  • Employ a contingency approach (i.e., methodologically, this translates into "interactional" approach) in conceptualizing and empirically identifying those links in order to demonstrate "what if" scenarios that define options for managers.
  • Develop and identify theory-based links between individual differences and relevant work outcomes.
  • Develop methodological approaches to leverage theoretical advances.
  • Identify opportunities to integrate theoretical and methodological issues across disciplines.
  • Promote collaboration with others not only to enhance self-development but also develop others, while on occasion submitting sole-authored work to maintain academic hardiness.
  • Personally perform all data analyses in every study to ensure accuracy and conduct every analysis with the underlying assumption that a colleague might request the data and check the analyses at any point in the future.
  • Send work to colleagues for peer review for quality control purposes.
  • Share findings widely, including presenting in-press findings during lectures to students in order to expose them to state-of-the-art advances in understanding employees and best practices.

Areas of Research Interest and Example Publications and Papers


  • Penney, L. M., David, E. M., Witt, & L. A. (In press). A review of personality and performance: Identifying boundaries, contingencies, and future research directions. Human Resources Management Review.
  • Perry, S. J., Hunter, E. M., Witt, L. A., & Harris, K. (In press). P = f (Ability x Conscientiousness): Examining the facets of conscientiousness. Human Performance.
  • Perry, S., Dubin, D., & Witt, L. A. (2010). The interactive effect of extraversion and extraversion dissimilarity on emotional exhaustion: A test of the asymmetry hypothesis. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 634–639.
  • Witt, L. A. (2002). The interactive effects of extroversion and conscientiousness on job performance. Journal of Management, 28, 835-851.
  • Witt, L. A. Burke, L. A., Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. (2002). The interactive effects of conscientiousness and agreeableness on job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 161-169.

Goal Alignment

  • Waite, L., Zheng, D., Brothers, S., & Witt, L. A. (2010, June). The buffering effect of goal congruence on the relationship between organizational constraints and engagement. Presented at the conference of the Institute for Work Psychology, Sheffield, England.
  • Colbert, A. E., & Witt, L. A. (2009). The role of goal-focused leadership in enabling the expression of conscientiousness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 790-796.
  • Perry, S. J., Witt, L. A., & Dilmore, G. L. (2008, August). Human interoperability in disaster response: Many minds, one goal. In A. Woolsley (Chair), Teams, terrorism-prevention and disaster response: Identifying the conditions for effectiveness. Presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Anaheim.
  • Witt, L. A., Ehrhart, K. H., & Schneider, B. (2006, May). Goal congruence, customer satisfaction, and revenue. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Dallas.
  • Witt, L. A. (1998). Enhancing organizational goal congruence: A solution to organizational politics. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 666-674.

Organizational Politics

  • Treadway, D. C., Ferris, G. R., Hochwarter, W. A., Perrewé, P., Witt, L. A., & Goodman, J. M. (2005). The role of age in the perceptions of politics-job performance relationship: A three-study constructive replication. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 872-881.
  • Zivnuska, S., Kacmar, K. M., Witt, L. A., Carlson, D. S., & Bratton, V. K. (2004). Interactive effects of impression management and organizational politics on job performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25, 1-14.
  • Andrews, M. ., Witt, L. A., & Kacmar, K. M. (2003). The interactive effects of organizational politics and exchange ideology on manager ratings of retention. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 62, 357-369.
  • Witt, L. A., Kacmar, K. M., Carlson, D. S., & Zivnuska, S. (2002). Interactive effects of personality and organizational politics on contextual performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 911-926.
  • Hochwarter, W. A., Witt, L. A., & Kacmar, M. K. (2000). Perceptions of organizational politics as a moderator of the relationship between conscientiousness and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 472-478.

Organizational Support

  • Sweet, K. & Witt, L. A. (2008, November). Managing adaptive performers: The interactive effects of perceived organizational support and leader-member exchange. Presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Management Association.
  • David, E., Witt, L. A., Carlson, D., Malka, A., & Weinberger, E. (2007, November). The effects of agreeableness and perceived organizational support on family-to-work enrichment. Presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Management Association, Nashville.
  • Witt, L. A., & Spitzmueller, C. (2007). Person-situation predictors of maximum and typical performance. Human Performance, 20, 1-11.
  • Witt, L. A., & Carlson, D. (2006). The work-family interface and job performance: Moderating effects of conscientiousness and perceived organizational support. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 11, 343-357.
  • Colbert, A. E., Mount, M. K., Harter, J. K., Witt, L. A., & Barrick, M. R. (2004). Interactive effects of personality and situation on workplace deviance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 599-609.


  • Krischer, M., & Witt, L. A. (2010, April). Achieving adaptive performance in the workplace: The compensatory effects of general mental ability and adaptive leadership. Presented at the conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Atlanta.
  • Witt, L. A., Perry, S. J., Rubino, C., & David, E. M. (2008, November). Supervisor effectiveness and employee emotional exhaustion. Presented at the annual meeting of the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology, Valencia, Spain.
  • Perry, S. J, Witt, L. A. Penney, L. M., & Atwater, L. (In press). The downside of goal-focused leadership: The role of personality in subordinate exhaustion. Journal of Applied Psychology.
  • Harris, K., Kacmar, K. M., & Witt, L. A. (2005). An examination of the curvilinear relationship between leader-member exchange and intent to turnover. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 1-16.
  • Kacmar, K. M., Witt, L. A., Zivnuska, S., & Gully, S. (2003). The impact of leader-member exchange on communication type, frequency, and performance ratings. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 764-772.

Social Effectiveness

  • David, E., & Witt, L. A. (2010, August). P = f(M x A x C): A three-way interaction predicting team player behavior. Presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Montreal.
  • David, E., & Witt, L. A. (2009, April). Dead career walking. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, New Orleans.
  • Treadway, D., & Witt, L. A. (2007, May). The impact of political skill and fairness on interpersonal facilitation. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, New York City.
  • Hochwarter, W., A., Witt, L. A., Treadway, D. C., & Ferris, G. A. (2006). Interaction of organizational support and social skill on job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 482-489.
  • Witt, L. A., & Ferris, G. R. (2003). Social skill as moderator of the conscientiousness-performance relationship: Convergent results across four studies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 809-820.

Human Resources Issues

  • David, E. M. & Witt, L. A. (2009). The effects of organizational citizenship behavior and general mental ability on task performance. Revista de Psihologie Aplicată, 10, 7-13.
  • Witt, L. A., Andrews, M., & Carlson, D. (2004). When conscientiousness isn't enough: Emotional exhaustion and call volume performance among call center customer service representatives. Journal of Management, 30, 149-160.
  • Witt, L. A., & Burke, L. A. (2002). Selecting high-performing information technology professionals. Journal of End User Computing, 14, 37-50
  • Mount, M. K., Witt, L. A., & Barrick, M. R. (2000). Incremental validity of empirically keyed biodata scales over GMA and the five factor personality constructs. Personnel Psychology, 53, 299-323.
  • Schroeder, D. J., Rosa, R. R., & Witt, L. A. (1998). Some effects of 8- vs. 10-hour work schedules on the test performance/alertness of air traffic control specialists. Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 21, 307-321.


  • Callison, K., Perry, S. J., Witt, L. A., & Roth, L. W. (2009, November). The effects of gender diversity, internal service, and work-life flexibility on workgroup emotional exhaustion. Paper presented at the Eighth International Conference on Work, Stress, and Health, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • David, E. M., Elliott, M., Avery, D., & Witt, L. A. (2009, April). How supervisor-subordinate racioethnic similarity and emotional exhaustion affect organizational commitment. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, New Orleans.
  • Wilson, R. A., David, E. M., & Witt, L. A. (2008, November). The effects of competency and diversity on goal congruence. Presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Management Association.
  • Witt, L. A., & Nye, L. G. (1992). Gender and the relationship between perceived fairness of pay/promotion and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 910-917.
  • Witt, L. A. (1988). Breadwinner vs. non-breadwinner differences in married women's job satisfaction and perceptions of organizational climate. Human Relations, 41, 483-491.