Psychological Contract Breach and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Exploring Cognitive Similarity and Leader-Member Exchange as Antecedents
Atabay, Gulem, Review of Business Research
A psychological contract is a set of beliefs regarding mutual obligations between employee and employer and it has important consequences for the organization in terms of variables such as organizational citizenship behavior. Therefore, the antecedents of psychological contract fulfillment are also critical for an organization. Within this framework, this study examines the relationship between psychological contract fulfillment and organizational citizenship behavior as well as exploring leader-member exchange and cognitive similarity between the employee and employer as antecedents of psychological contract fulfillment. For the research, 122 employees were surveyed and the results of the research indicate that the greater the degree of psychological contract breach reported by employees, the less likely they are to engage in organizational citizenship behavior. Also, findings suggest that cognitive similarity and leader-member exchange are significant predictors of psychological contract breach. The implications of these findings within the context of human resources management practices as well as related theory are discussed.
Keywords: psychological contract, organizational citizenship behavior, cognitive similarity and leader-member exchange
The effects of rapid changes of the global world are frequently observed in the work life. Hard competition, slow economic growth and international crises are the basic factors that force the organizations to change (Beer, Spector, Lawrence, Quinn-Mills, 1984 ; Hiltrop, 1996 ; Robinson, 1996). Workforce is the most valuable tool for the organizations to survive in such difficult conditions. In order to manage this tool effectively, organizations create people--oriented business models, and they tend to perceive the employees as not only a production factor but also a partner for the organization (Keser, 2002). Organizations, which experience structural change as a result of the effects of global competition, need to create a workforce, who adapts those changes easily. The most significant change in the work life takes place in job descriptions of employees. Job descriptions include the broad range of duties and responsibilities (Drucker, 1998). Thus, selecting and hiring a workforce, who have to perform different duties and carry out different responsibilities, is considered as a strategic issue (Ishakoglu, 1998 ;Capelli, 1999 ; Hitt, 1998, Kreitners, Kinicki, 1995 ; Robbins, 1994). People in work life have been experiencing many changes in the work and social life simultaneously. Hence, their expectations and demands from the work and organizations have also been changing (Chrobot-Mason, 2003). In this respect, effectively managing the change in the structure of the organizations and in social life becomes a must for the organizations of the 21st century. As mentioned, the effective management of the relationships between employees and organizations is a vital factor for the success of both the organizations and employees (Lambert, Edwards, Cable, 2003).
2. PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTRACT (PC)
Work life involves set of expectations of employees and employers. Employees are expected to work hard, follow the job descriptions, while employers are expected to provide "good salary", "promotion opportunities", and "job security" (De-Meuse, Bergman, Lester, 2001). However, in today's world, those expectations are above the traditional boundaries of the work life. Escalation of professionals plays a significant role in reshaping the work expectations (Bunderson, 2001). Downsizing, using cheap labor, outsourcing, reducing permanent staff are the new issues, which directly affect and reshape the employee-employer relationships (Robinson, Kraatz, Rousseau,1994; Johnson, O'Leary-Kelly, 2003). As expected, these issues have a strong impact on the expectations of employees from the social and professional life. Hence, different dimensions of employee-employer relationship should be examined by scholars and psychological dimension of these relations should be taken into consideration. According to the social interaction approach (Blau,1964), the psychological dimension of employee- employers relationship should involve the mutual social and psychological obligations of the opponents as well as the economic obligations. For this reason, in order to determine whether the mutual expectations of the opponents are met, it is not sufficient to examine the only economical aspect.
Today, many people have been complaining that their expectations are met completely (De-Meuse, Bergman, Lester, 2001). This situation shows that examining the psychological dimension of employee-employer relations, which is unobservable but based on mutual trust and shapes the relations, is vital. As mentioned, this psychological dimension is the most important dynamic that determines the structure of the relationship (Okun, 1981). Argyris (1960) stated that the agreement between employees and employers reflects the mutual expectations of the opponents. The ultimate goal of those agreements is to create organizational harmony among the organizational members through mutually keeping the promises.
The definition of the concept, which examines the unobservable aspect of employee-employer relations and called psychological contract (it will be stated as "PC"), is based on the perceptions of the opponents (Schein, 1980 ; Rousseau, 1989). According to the perceptions of the opponents, the issues under the PC concept are listed. Accordingly, PC, does not depend on the approval, is based on informal and mutual affective relationship, does not have any legal sanction, does not include written duties and responsibilities, plays a significant role in determining the opponents' behaviors (Keser, 2002).
Although PC was developed in 1960s (Argyris, 1960; Levinson, 1965), it has been still a popular concept among the scholars (Rousseau, 2003; Thomas, Au, Ravlin, 2003; Pate, Martin, McGoldrick, 2003; Rust, Kinley, Edwards, 2005). There are many definitions of PC, which emphasize that it is not written, not consciously developed by the opponents (Newstrom, 1987; Schein, 1980; Schein, …
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Publication information: Article title: Psychological Contract Breach and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Exploring Cognitive Similarity and Leader-Member Exchange as Antecedents. Contributors: Atabay, Gulem - Author. Journal title: Review of Business Research. Volume: 7. Issue: 6 Publication date: November 2007. Page number: 27+. © 2008 International Academy of Business and Economics. COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group.
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