In this section the focus is on the conceptualisation of the psychological contract construct as well as Rousseau’s (1995) theoretical model of the psychological contract
The concept of the psychological contract emerged in response to the relationship that exists between the employer and the employee (Agarwal, 2015). The psychological contract can be defined as the opinions that a person holds concerning the terms and conditions that surround his/her employment relationship (Payne, Culbertson, Lopez, Boswell, & Barger, 2015). The construct of the psychological contract also refers to an individual’s beliefs and perceptions with regard to the reciprocal obligations owed by the employee to the employer and vice versa in the light of the exchange relationship that exists between them (Agarwal, 2016; Bordia, Bordia, & Restubog, 2016; Karagonlar, Eisenberger, & Aselage, 2016; Lam, & De Campos, 2015; Le Roux, & Rothmann, 2013; Li, Wong, & Kim, 2016; Lub et al., 2016; Restubog, Zagenczyk, Bordia, Bordia, & Chapman, 2015; Rousseau, 1995; Rousseau, 1990).
In other words, the psychological contract is an employee’s beliefs regarding the reciprocal agreement in terms of obligations of an economic and socio-emotional nature that result from the perception of promises exchanged with the organisation (O’Donohue, Martin, & Torugsa, 2014; Rousseau, 1995). The psychological contract is built on the notion of reciprocity, where humans interact in social exchanges and expect the other party to reciprocate likewise (Bal, De Lange, Jansen, & Van der Velde, 2008; Seopa et al., 2015).
Moreover, the concept of the psychological contract refers to employees’ belief that they should receive certain incentives, such as a high salary and job satisfaction in return for their contributions made to the employer, which include hard work and loyalty (Lam & De Campos, 2015; Lu, Capezio, Restubog, Garcia, & Wang, 2016; Rouseau, 1990). Payne et al. (2015) argue that task performance, loyalty, flexibility and collegiality can be referred to as employee obligations whereas employer obligations include compensation, training, career development, concern for employee wellbeing, as well as support.
The difference between the psychological contract and formal employment contracts is that the psychological contract is perceptual (Li et al., 2016). The psychological contract is based on the perceptions of an individual regarding mutual obligations in the employment relationship. It is typically an unwritten and unspoken contract (O’Meara et al., 2016). Within the organisational environment, the psychological contract is an undocumented covenant that binds the parties to it and sets the mutual obligations between them (Li et al., 2016; Robbins, 2003).
These mutual obligations may be either implicit or explicit and are delivered to employees from any number of sources such as communications from agents from the organisation or co-workers who observe employees in the organisation, as well as policies and practices of the organisation (Karagonlar et al., 2016). For the purpose of this study the concept of the psychological contract is defined as the perceived, unwritten contract that exists between an employee and employer in terms of the employment relationship, referring to mutual obligations such as compensation, job satisfaction, loyalty and hard work.
Psychological contract theory
The psychological contract theory has its origins in the social exchange theory (Blau, 1964). It proposes that employees and employers, as parties to an exchange relationship, experience a sense of obligation to reciprocate to contributions made by the other party in equal value, in order to fulfil the notions of fairness and to assist in the continuance of the exchange relationship (Blau, 1964; Gouldner, 1960; Lub et al., 2016; Rayton, Brammer, & Millington, 2015). According to the social exchange theory (Blau, 1964), an imbalance in the fulfilment of obligations will result in negative consequences within the social exchange relationship; the opposite will result in positive attitudes as well as positive experiences within the exchange relationship (Le Roux & Rothmann, 2013; Shore & Barksdale, 1998). Social exchanges are related to employees’ job satisfaction, well-being and work behaviour such as intention to resign (Cole, Schaninger, & Harris, 2002; Le Roux & Rothmann, 2013).
The psychological contract and social exchange theories share the notion that parties to the exchange relationship will respond to those obligations that are significant to them (Rayton et al., 2015). However, these theories differ in that the social exchange theory is concerned with the delivered content of the exchange relationship whereas the psychological contract theory is concerned with whether the delivered content has met the expectations of the parties in the exchange relationship (Rayton et al., 2015).
The concept of the psychological contract was first introduced by Argyris (1960). His research focused on the context of the superior’s leadership style where the ‘psychological work contract’ highlighted the unspoken relationship between the leader and subordinates, as a result of the leadership style employed by the leader (Agarwal, 2015). Levinson (1962) then described it as an unwritten agreement, based on mutual obligations (Manxhari, 2015). A decade later saw Schein (1970) building on the psychological contract concept by accentuating the various expectations that exist between the employee and employer (Agarwal, 2015).
It was only in 1995, however, with Rousseau’s (1995) ground-breaking publication, that the concept of the psychological contract really received serious attention (Manxhari, 2015). Given that most scholars had accentuated the primary concepts, needs and expectations as characteristics of the psychological contract, Rousseau (1989) tested these longstanding assumptions by redefining the psychological contract theory (Restubog, Kiazad, & Kiewitz, 2015).
Rousseau (1995) defined the psychological contract as an individual’s views, which are formed by the organisation, of the conditions of an exchange agreement concerning that individual and the organisation. She furthermore described three additional characteristics of the psychological contract (Restubog et al., 2015):
The psychological contract is based on perceptions and idiosyncratic in nature.
The type of psychological contract can be differentiated among different time frames, degree of specificity, resources exchanged and performance-reward contingency.
Violation of the psychological contract creates the core process through which psychological contracts influence the attitudes and behaviours of employees.
These three characteristics of the psychological contract will be discussed in detail in the following sections.
Perceptual and idiosyncratic nature of the psychological contract
The psychological contract is a reflection of an employee’s beliefs concerning mutual obligations (Lu et al., 2016; Rousseau, 1990). It is thus related to an individual’s perceptions of promises and obligations that are mutually exchanged with the organisation (McGrath, Millward, & Banks, 2016). The psychological contract is developed, based on the perception of an individual regarding the reciprocity contained in the relationship (Bordia et al., 2015). Consequently, the psychological contract is subjective in nature (Bordia et al., 2015; Lu et al., 2015; Persson & Wasieleski, 2015; Van den Heuvel, Schalk, Freese, & Timmerman, 2016) and based on the perceptions of an individual regarding the implicit and explicit promises made within the exchange relationship. As a consequence of this subjectivity, each psychological contract is unique and specific to an individual and comprises the inner perceptions of this individual, which are formed and kept independently (George, 2009).
CHAPTER 1: SCIENTIFIC OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH
1.1BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION FOR THE RESEARCH
1.3AIMS OF THE RESEARCH
1.4STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
1.5THE RESEARCH MODEL
1.6PARADIGM PERSPECTIVE OF THE RESEARCH
CHAPTER 2: META-THEORETICAL CONTEXT OF THE STUDY: RETENTION AND GENERATIONAL DIVERSITY IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORKPLACE
2.1RETENTION IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORKPLACE
2.2GENERATIONAL DIVERSITY IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORKPLACE
2.3INTEGRATION OF RETENTION FACTORS AND GENERATIONAL COHORT VALUES
2.4EVALUATION AND SYNTHESIS
CHAPTER 3 PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTRACT AND PSYCHOSOCIAL CAREER PREOCCUPATIONS
3.2PSYCHOSOCIAL CAREER PREOCCUPATIONS
3.3VARIABLES INFLUENCING PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTRACT AND PSYCHOSOCIAL CAREER PREOCCUPATIONS
3.4INTEGRATION: TOWARD CONSTRUCTING A PSYCHOLOGICAL RETENTION PROFILE FOR DIVERSE GENERATIONAL GROUPS
3.5EVALUATION AND SYNTHESIS
CHAPTER 4: EMPIRICAL STUDY
4.1DETERMINATION AND DESCRIPTION OF THE SAMPLE
4.2SELECTING AND MOTIVATING THE PSYCHOMETRIC BATTERY
4.3ETHICAL CONSIDERATION IN ADMINISTRATION OF THE PSYCHOMETRIC BATTERY
4.4CAPTURING OF CRITERION DATA
4.5FORMULATION OF THE RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
4.6STATISTICAL PROCESSING OF THE DATA
CHAPTER 5: RESEARCH RESULTS
5.1PRELIMINARY DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
5.4INFERENTIAL (MULTIVARIATE) STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
5.5INTEGRATION AND DISCUSSION
CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSIONS, LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.4EVALUATION OF THE STUDY
6.5REFLECTION ON DOCTORATENESS AND CONCLUSION
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
Constructing a psychological retention profile for diverse generational groups in the higher educational environment