The Role of Task-Oriented versus Relationship-Oriented Leadership on Normative Contract and Group Performance
Tabernero, Carmen, Chambel, M. Jose, Curral, Luis, Arana, Jose M., Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal
Over the last few decades, the issue of psychological contracts has been one of the most salient themes covered in literature on organizational behavior. A psychological contract mediates between the characteristics of an organization and the attitudes and behavior of its members. Theoretical and empirical research into this construct has generally been focused on "individual beliefs, shaped by the organization, regarding terms of an exchange between individuals and their organization" (Rousseau, 1995). It represents employees' perceptions of what compensation, resources, and attitudes can be expected from an exchange partner in return for fulfilling their perceived obligations. Two categories emerge in this exchange: transactional, which defines an exchange of tangible and material resources in which the nature of the exchange is specified and expectations about the duration of the relationship are short term; and relational, which involves unspecified obligations, favors the exchange of socioemotional resources, and presupposes that relationships do not have a specific aim and that they will be maintained in the long term. In these relationships, one party must trust the other to perform future obligations (Millward & Hopkins, 1998; Rousseau, 1995).
Most researchers focusing on psychological contracts hypothesize that employees develop a psychological contract with an organization depending on the individual's experience in their own work, which in turn is based on their general experience in the organization. However, the psychological contract can be deemed to refer to the individual's perceptions about the conditions of exchange agreed between the individual and the other party (Rousseau, 1989), bearing in mind that it is not necessary for one of the parties to be the organization itself. In fact, "individuals may establish psychological contracts outlining the expected reciprocation with immediate superiors, teammates, and the organization ..." (Shore et al., 2004, p. 300). More specifically, Marks (2001) claims that the concept of a psychological contract needs to be redefined, taking into consideration that it can establish differences between the different entities which operate at different organizational levels. Therefore, the number and type of psychological contracts which can be established by individuals in their working environment depend on the type of organization and the working process being developed. However, as stated by Ilgen, Hollenbeck, Johnson, and Jundt (2005), organizations are increasingly structured in teams or working groups and, therefore, the psychological contracts established in relation to working groups need to be investigated. This type of contract can be defined as the perception of each group member regarding the supposed obligations of each of the parties, both their own and those of their colleagues (Lee, Tinsley, & Chen, 2000).
Furthermore, empirical evidence indicates that social interaction in working groups or teams produces shared phenomena (Hinsz, Tindale, & Vollrath, 1997; Walter & Bruch, 2008). Nicholson and Johns (1985) argue for the existence of a shared psychological contract when members of a team experience a common set of psychological contracts. Rousseau (1995) refers to the existence of normative contracts, in other words, psychological contracts shared by the members of a team. A working team can share beliefs about the type of relationships established between the members, who maintain a set of beliefs which constitute the reality of that group. Beliefs about reciprocity and exchange undergo changes, especially in the initial stages of group interaction, as a reflex of the process of adaptation to reality (De Vos, Buyens, & Schalk, 2003). Thus, when members of a group interact in order to resolve a common task, they are expected to end up sharing the same kind of psychological contract (Shore et al., 2004). Hence, groups who work on a task over time should develop a psychological contract in relation to the group, which is shared by that group. …