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Psychological contract breach, organizational justice and emotional well-being

Vincent Cassar (Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck College, University of London)
Sandra C. Buttigieg (Health Services Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




Psychological contract breach, which represents instances when organizations fail to fulfil their side of the employment bargain, has been associated with salient concepts in strategic human resources management. The purpose of this paper is to investigate moderated mediated relationships involving breach, organizational (procedural and interactional) justice and emotional well-being.


The study draws upon quantitative data collected by means of a questionnaire that was administered to 620 full-time technical and shop-floor employees in an automobile-parts company in Malta. The questionnaire included psychometrically validated scales on breach, justice and well-being.


Breach partially mediated the relationship between justice and well-being while justice levels did not differentiate this mediating effect except for interactional justice. Finally, the interaction between procedural and interactional justice failed to explain the mediating role of breach over and above their single contributions although interactional justice seemed to make a bigger impact.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes towards a better understanding of the relationships between breach, justice and well-being. The major limitation is that because of its cross-sectional nature, causality cannot be inferred.

Practical implications

Given that managing the employment relationship impacts on how people feel and hence perform, understanding how breach, justice and well-being are related, is strategically important to human resources management.


To the authors’ knowledge, there is no previous research that links breach, justice and well-being in one study.



The authors appreciate the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers on a previous version of the paper.


Cassar, V. and Buttigieg, S.C. (2015), "Psychological contract breach, organizational justice and emotional well-being", Personnel Review, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 217-235.



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