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Unfulfilled expectations and promises, and behavioral outcomes

Chi-jung Fu (Department of Business Administration, Kainan University, Luzhu, Taiwan)
Chin-i Cheng (Department of Mathematics, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 4 March 2014




The paper aims to provide a better understanding of psychological contract (PC) constructed by examining the relationships among unfulfilled expectations, unfulfilled promises, and employee behavioral outcomes.


This study used a cross-sectional survey with data collected at three separate times, each one month apart to reduce the possibility of common method biases. The data were collected from multiple sources of 250 employee-supervisor pairs.


First, both unfulfilled expectations and promises were related to employees' negative behavioral outcomes. However, unfulfilled promises were likely to trigger stronger negative behavioral outcomes, such as a decrease in loyalty to the organization and job performance, and an increase in complaining and intention to leave the organization. Second, different dimensions of unfulfilled PCs trigger different types of behavioral outcomes. Specifically, unfulfilled transactional contracts were likely to trigger employees' withdrawing behaviors, such as intent to quit and carelessness of job performance. Similarly, unfulfilled relational contracts were likely to influence employees' extra-role behaviors, such as increased grumbling and decreased loyalty.


This study contributes to the PC theory in three ways. First, PCs were discussed in multiple perspectives, employees' expectations and employer's promises, which contained different meanings about employees' behavioral outcomes. Second, the contents of PCs were evaluated in multiple dimensions, transactional contents and relational contents, as they were related to different types of work-related behaviors. Third, this study was conducted in Taiwan to reveal how employees react to unfulfilled PCs in a high-context cultural environment.



The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


Fu, C.-j. and Cheng, C.-i. (2014), "Unfulfilled expectations and promises, and behavioral outcomes", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 61-75.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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