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Dual effects of regulatory focus on work-related consequences: the mediating roles of psychological contracts

Huai-Liang Liang (Executive Master of Business Administration, Dayeh University, Changhua, Taiwan)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 2 May 2022

Issue publication date: 17 January 2023




This paper aims to examine the potential mechanisms through which regulatory focus influences employee work-related outcomes. The effects of a dual model of regulatory focus on job satisfaction and turnover intention were investigated through psychological contracts.


The data of a survey of 370 recruits (306 male newcomers and 64 female newcomers) in a Taiwanese military recruitment center provided significant support for the hypothesized dual model.


The results revealed that regulatory focus was positively related to either job satisfaction or turnover intention. A relational contract mediated the relationship between promotion focus and job satisfaction, whereas a transactional contract mediated prevention focus and turnover intention.

Research limitations/implications

The study results may not apply to other sectors because data were collected only at a military unit in Taiwan. Using Taiwanese military personnel may limit the generalization of the results to those unemployed in civilian samples or those in other countries. Samples from different countries are important to establish whether the results from the study apply to other situations. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first regulatory focus theory (RFT)-based study to report on the regulatory focus of newcomers as mediating the relationship between purposeful and work-related outcomes.

Practical implications

Previous research has found that individuals with a different goal orientation may adopt different behaviors that result in different performance levels. The results here imply that newcomers with transactional contracts have intentions to leave their organizations and perceive their relationships with their organizations according to rational choice theory.


Newcomers' distinctive self-regulatory systems and focus on meeting either nurturance or security needs were determined to get different outcomes following organizational entry. The results demonstrated that promotion-focused newcomers were satisfied with the military, whereas prevention-focused newcomers intended to leave within their first 18 weeks.



Funding: The funding of Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan was received (MOST 103-2410-H-344-001).

Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest: I declare that this study has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval: All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The questionnaires were reviewed by the National Chen Kung University Human Research Ethics Committee.

Informed consent. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Data availability statements. The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to restrictions e.g. their containing information that could compromise the privacy of research participants.


Liang, H.-L. (2023), "Dual effects of regulatory focus on work-related consequences: the mediating roles of psychological contracts", Management Decision, Vol. 61 No. 1, pp. 339-355.



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