Academic journal article Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies

An Investigation of the Effects of Psychological Contract and Organization-Based Self-Esteem on Organizational Commitment in a Sample of Permanent and Contingent Workers

Academic journal article Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies

An Investigation of the Effects of Psychological Contract and Organization-Based Self-Esteem on Organizational Commitment in a Sample of Permanent and Contingent Workers

Article excerpt

In this cross-sectional research design, the authors explore and offer evidence of differential obligations of permanent and contingent workers to their organization. Additionally, they holistically investigate the relationships between different psychological contract obligations and two dimensions of organizational commitment. They found limited support for the hypotheses that psychological contract perceptions varied across permanent and contingent workers and levels of commitment. Additionally, they discovered that organization-based self-esteem partially mediated the relationship between psychological contract and organizational commitment. Implications for management practice, limitations of the study, and directions for future research are also offered.

Keywords: contingent workers; OBSE, organizational commitment; psychological contract

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2005), nearly 10% of the workforce in early 2005 was composed of contingent workers, a trend that has held steady for several years and is foreseen to continue. As a phenomenon relevant to management, many scholars have found the area of the contingent workforce and alternative work arrangements worthy of study (for a review, see Feldman, 2006). The contingent workforce, coupled with the variety of occupations in which these phenomena occur, presents managers with myriad challenges, for example, the challenge of managing workers in high-tech industries (Riolli-Saltzman & Luthans, 2001), but also provide organizational scholars with a research area of considerable importance and opportunity.

The contingent worker is defined as one without an explicit or implicit ongoing employment contract with their client firms. Workers with alternative work arrangements, such as on-call workers, are included in this definition (Kraimer, Wayne, Liden, & Sparrowe, 2005). Also, other contingent workers without a permanent employment arrangement are independent contractors and temporary-services employees (Gallagher & McLean Parks, 2001).

The aforementioned dynamism of the contemporary organization provides management researchers with an opportunity to explore existing constructs with time-tested measures but within this dynamic context. As Johns (2006) pointed out, context should be considered when studying organizational behavior. For example, psychological contracts, organizational commitment, and organization-based self-esteem (OBSE) are important and established constructs in the organizational sciences.

Over time, scholars have offered explanations of these constructs as well as measures to capture their effects. Rousseau (1995, 2001), among others (cf. Dabos & Rousseau, 2004; Deery, Iverson, & Walsh, 2006; Ho, 2005), has engaged in considerable theorizing and research to support the development of the psychological contract literature. Pierce and colleagues (Pierce, Gardner, Cummings, & Dunham, 1989; Pierce, Gardner, Dunham, & Cummings, 1993) conceptualized the OBSE construct and developed and validated a measure in the process. Many scholars have built a substantial research base by studying organizational commitment and have developed and validated a variety of organizational commitment measures (cf. Allen & Meyer, 1990a; Angle & Perry, 1981; Mayer & Schoorman, 1992, 1998; Meyer & Allen, 1984; Mowday, Steers, & Porter, 1979; Porter, Steers, Mowday, & Boulian, 1974).

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The primary purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the relational and transactional dimensions of the psychological contract on OBSE, and continuance and value commitment, of both permanent and contingent workers in a technology firm. In this article, we advance a set of hypothesized relationships between these constructs and discuss the results of a study that indicate a positive relationship between perceptions of the psychological contract and organizational commitment. …

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