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The psychological contract and individual differences: the role of exchange and creditor ideologies

Elsevier Science Ltd.
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  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • Psychology


The present study examines exchange and creditor ideologies (two dispositional characteristics that are strongly related to exchange relationships) and their moderating effects on the psychological contract. Five hundred public-sector employees were studied over a three-year period. Respondents’ were surveyed as to their perceptions of what they believed their employer owed them (e.g., job security, training, involvement in decision making, etc.) and the extent to which these “employer obligations” had been met. In addition, we assessed respondents’ perceptions of their own obligations to their employer (e.g., agreeing to work extra hours, volunteering for non-job-related activities, working unpaid hours, etc.) and the extent to which they believed that these “employee obligations” had been fulfilled. The results indicate that creditor ideology related positively to employee perceptions of their obligations to the employer and the extent to which they fulfilled those obligations while exchange ideology related negatively to employee obligations and fulfillment of obligations. Exchange ideology moderated the effects of perceived employer obligations on employee obligations and fulfillment of obligations while creditor ideology moderated the relationship between perceived employer fulfillment of obligations and employee obligations. This article provides preliminary evidence to the benefits of examining the role of individual dispositions in psychological contract research—a previously neglected topic—and discusses the potential implications for the practice of management.

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