The Dark Side of Organizational Behavior

By Ricky W. Griffin; Anne M. O'Leary-Kelly | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Psychological Contract
Breach and Violation
in Organizations

Sandra L. Robinson, Graham Brown

An important and prevalent “dark side” of organizational behavior is that of psychological contract breach and violation. Psychological contract breach reflects one's perception that another has failed to fulfill his or her obligations to one; psychological contract violation refers to the emotional reaction to that interpretation of a breach experience. Psychological contract breach is not only a specific type of dysfunctional behavior, it may also both influence and lead to other dysfunctional behaviors and share with those behaviors some common antecedents and consequences. Research shows that contract breach and violation is both a prevalent and costly problem in current organizations (Robinson, 1996; Rousseau, 1995). For example, it has been found that from 50 to 81 percent of employees reported the breach of specific obligations by their employer (Conway & Briner, 2002; Robinson & Rousseau, 1994; Turnley & Feldman, 1999b). As the nature of employment relationships continue to evolve and trends toward downsizing, restructuring, and organizational change continue, the occurrence and importance of psychological contracts and their violation will increase.

In this chapter we introduce and review the literature on this dysfunctional and deviant behavior in organizations. We examine where prior research on psychological contract breach and violation has taken us and what we have learned along the way, as well

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