The purpose of this paper is to investigate how company-provided smartphones and user-device attachment influence the psychological contract between employees and managers in terms of connectivity expectations and outcomes.
Data were collected using qualitative semi-structured interviews with 28 participants from four organizations.
The study showed that when organizations provide smartphones to their employees, the smartphones become a part of the manager-employee relationship through user-device attachment and this can change connectivity expectations for both employees and managers.
Due to participant numbers, these findings may not be generalizable to all employees and managers who receive company smartphones. However, the authors have important implications for theory. The smartphone influence on the psychological climate and its role as a signal for workplace expectations suggest that mobile information and communication technology devices must be considered in psychological contract formation, development, change and breach.
The perceived expectations can lead to hyper-connectivity which can have a number of negative performance and health outcomes such as technostress, burnout, absenteeism and work-life conflict.
Smartphone usage and user-device attachment have the potential to redefine human relations by encouraging and normalizing hyper-connected relationships.
This study makes an original contribution to psychological contract theory by showing that smartphones and attachment to these devices create perceived expectations to stay connected to work and create negative outcomes, especially for managers.
Early versions of this paper were presented at two conferences: ANZAM 2014 and ANZAM 2015.
Obushenkova, E., Plester, B. and Haworth, N. (2018), "Manager-employee psychological contracts: enter the smartphone", Employee Relations, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 193-207. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-02-2017-0040Download as .RIS
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