Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

An Analysis of Organisational Commitment by Academic Professionals in Tertiary Institutions in Zimbabwe

Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

An Analysis of Organisational Commitment by Academic Professionals in Tertiary Institutions in Zimbabwe

Article excerpt


The aim of this study was to investigate organisational commitment in the era of the new psychological contract, or the psychological environment created by an economic down tum in Zimbabwe. The psychological contract that exists between employees and organisations is brittle due to many organisational changes which stem from the threatened business environment. The target population for this study consisted of 100 lecturers working at three state universities, namely Bindura University of Science Education, Chinhoyi University of Technology, and Masvingo State University. The results indicated that an increase in the number of positive human resource management (HRM) practices reported by respondents correlated with a decrease in violation and breach of the psychological contract.

Keywords: Organisational commitment, psychological contract, human resources management, state universities


The concept of the psychological contract has been broadly used in organisational psychology literature as a way of examining and investigating the changing relationship between employers and their employees. The psychological contract refers to the relationship between an employer and an employee. With regard to expectations that exist not in a formal, written contract but implicitly, [they are] often covertly held and infrequently discussed (D'Annunzio-Green and Francis 2005). For example, an employee may do many things for their employer by putting in extra time at work, working hard and being loyal to their employer. In return she/he expects the employer to provide interesting work, respect, training and promotion opportunities, and job security.

Violation and fulfillment of psychological contracts are important to organisational performance, as violation has been empirically linked to the attitudes and behaviours of employees (Sonneberg 2006). The measures which employers undertake in times of economic uncertainty can cause employees to feel that the psychological contract has been undermined.

Managers, therefore, have to pay closer attention to the management of the employment relationship and seek to ensure that their organisation is a good employer (Guest and Conway 2004). The goal of this paper was to gain more insight into the role that HRM can play in facilitating healthier psychological contracts, and in turn, contributing to organisational commitment, despite engaging in organisational restructuring to mitigate economic uncertainty.


Human Resources Management Practices and the Psychological Contract

There is now sufficient and well-established evidence that the application of HRM practices can be associated with employee organisational commitment and other positive employee attitudes. These practices are strongly associated with a positive state of the psychological contract, which in turn is linked to a variety of positive behaviours and attitudes (Guest and Conway 2004).

Guzzo and Noonan (1994) relate HRM with the psychological contract and consider these practices as communications mechanisms. This author strongly suggests that psychological contract violation stems from the organisation's HRM practices. Human Resources Management practices send signals that are interpreted by workers, and are relevant to their assessment of the fulfillment of the psychological contract. One of the roles of HRM practices should be the creation and maintenance of psychological contracts between employees and their organisations (Sonnenberg 2006). In times of recession, the actions of HRM may send, inadvertently, hostile messages to the workforce resulting in malcontent. When psychological contracts go unfulfilled or are perceived to have been violated, employees may experience reduced organisational commitment, stronger intention to quit and counterproductive behaviour (Brewster et al. 2003).

Given the foregoing, the following is hypothesized:

Hj There is a relationship between Human Resources Management Practices and the psychological contract. …

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