Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Role of Confucianism in the Formation of Psychological Contracts: Evidence from China

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Role of Confucianism in the Formation of Psychological Contracts: Evidence from China

Article excerpt

Confucianism is a culturally specific factor in East Asian countries where people have been strongly influenced by Confucianism for thousands of years (Qian, 1976). In addition, the core values of Confucianism are considered the foundation of human resource management in business organizations in East Asia (Hofstede & Bond, 1988; Romar, 2002). Previous researchers have demonstrated that employees who value Confucian virtues are likely to perceive a stable, long-term relationship with their employer (Kickul, Lester, & Belgio, 2004).

In our examination of how individuals form psychological contracts, we posited that as psychological contracts are highly personal and idiosyncratic (Rousseau, 1989), dispositional factors such as personality would play a crucial role in psychological contract formation (Adams, Quagrainie, & Klobodu, 2014; De Vos, Buyens, & Schalk, 2003; Raja, Johns, & Ntalianis, 2004). Further, Sparrow (1998) stated that individuals' behavior is also influenced by the culture in which they are embedded, and contended that national values influence how employees process information about the content of their psychological contracts. This suggests that individuals' psychological contracts will be formed depending on how they are influenced by cultural factors. Thus, we explored whether or not there is an Asian-specific process in the formation of psychological contracts.

Literature Review and Hypothesis Development

Psychological Contract Formation

Rousseau (1995) defined psychological contracts as "individual beliefs, shaped by the organization, regarding terms of an exchange agreement between individuals and their organization" (p. 9). There are two types of psychological contracts: transactional and relational (MacNeil, 1985). Transactional psychological contracts are short-term, and purely materialistic, with a focus on economic exchange. Thus, these contracts entail limited involvement between employers and employees. In contrast, relational psychological contracts are long-term and not strongly restricted to economic exchange. They are an information exchange between employers and employees, geared toward individual growth, such as career development in the company (Morrison & Robinson, 1997; Rousseau & McLean Parks, 1993).

As psychological contracts are based on the relationship between employers and employees (Robinson, Kraatz, & Rousseau, 1994; Shore & Tetrick, 1994), researchers have understood that organizational characteristics constitute psychological contracts (Conway & Briner, 2009; McDermott, Conway, Rousseau, & Flood, 2013; Metz, Kulik, Cregan, & Brown, 2017). In identifying how psychological contracts can be managed effectively in a company, researchers have paid increasing attention to how the contract is actually formed. Rousseau (1995) claimed that individuals interpret their work environment (or psychological contract) depending on how their personality is congruent with the contract-related circumstances. Individual characteristics have been identified as dispositional traits, such as age, gender, and personality (Adams et al., 2014; Raja et al., 2004), and cognitive factors (Sherman & Morley, 2015).

The Big Five Personality Factors as Antecedents of Psychological Contract Formation

As personality is critical in governing individual behavior in organizations (Barrick & Mount, 1991; Judge, Heller, & Mount, 2002), individuals' personalities will lead to different perceptions of psychological contracts. According to Raja et al. (2004), of the Big Five personality factors, neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness, in particular, can affect the formation of psychological contracts. Therefore, we considered these three personality factors as antecedents of the formation of psychological contracts.

Neuroticism and psychological contract. Neuroticism involves emotional instability, and individuals with neuroticism exhibit worry, fear, guilt, sadness, anger, embarrassment, and disgust (Barlow, Sauer-Zavala, Carl, Bullis, & Ellard, 2014; Costa & McCrae, 1992; Schoen & Schumann, 2007). …

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