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What is exchanged in psychological contracts? Multiple sets of obligations, targeted effort and uncertainty reduction

John Rodwell (Faculty of Business & Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)
Julia Ellershaw (Faculty of Business & Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 9 February 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the currency underlying the employment relationship of allied health workers by investigating the mechanisms of their psychological contracts.

Design/methodology/approach

Path analyses were conducted on the survey responses from Australian allied health professionals (n=112; a 46 per cent response rate).

Findings

The analyses revealed that psychological contract promises decreased organizational citizenship behaviours relating to the organization (OCBO), while contract fulfilment increased commitment and reduced psychological distress. Contract breach reduced organizational commitment.

Originality/value

The results indicate that obligations may be the primary currency in their psychological contract, with career commitment forming a set of obligations by which employees determine their OCBO, highlighting the nature of the resources exchanged to be targeted to their perceived source, in this case organizational promises begetting discretionary contributions to the organization. Further, fulfilment may reduce uncertainty, which in turn can reduce strain and increase OCBO.

Keywords

Citation

Rodwell, J. and Ellershaw, J. (2015), "What is exchanged in psychological contracts? Multiple sets of obligations, targeted effort and uncertainty reduction", Employee Relations, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 232-247. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-06-2014-0075

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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