This study aims to examine reciprocal exchange in teams using a psychological contract (PC) framework. Adopting Rousseau’s conceptualization of the contract, the authors explore the extent to which the team members reciprocate perceived team obligations and fulfilment by adjusting their own obligations and fulfilment. A new scale for the measurement of obligations and fulfilment was developed. Team commitment was hypothesized as a mediating variable.
The new PC scale was tested in a longitudinal study design. A survey of a representative sample of 230 Dutch first-year college students nested in 73 teams was conducted.
The authors found that in student teams, perceived team obligations at Time 1 are positively associated with perceived member obligations at Time 2. Furthermore, they found higher commitment to the team as the team fulfilled the obligations as perceived by its members. Contrary to the exchange theory, in student teams, perceived fulfilment of obligations at Time 1 is not reciprocated by more obligations of its members at Time 2. No significant mediating effects are found of team commitment.
To date, this study provides the first measurement of contract fulfilment in non-hierarchical team relationships. The instrument can act as a tool to assess future team effectiveness and performance and adjust team composition accordingly.
Schreuder, F., Schalk, R. and de Jong, J. (2017), "Psychological contracts in self-directed work teams: Development of a validated scale and its effects on team commitment", Team Performance Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 136-155. https://doi.org/10.1108/TPM-07-2016-0035
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