Psychological Contract Violation Beyond an Employees’ Perspective: The Perspective of Employers
Employee Relations, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 110-125, 2012
16 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2011
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand the psychological contract from the employers’ perspective, by examining violations where the employer rather than employee is the victim, an issue that has so far seldom been addressed in extant psychological contract research.
Design/methodology/approach – Small business owners are studied using qualitative interviews, incorporating critical incidents technique. Interview transcriptions have been analysed using template analysis.
Findings – The analysis reveals the significant disruption and damage caused by these incidents, with employers involving other employees in their response as they set about the essential repair work required. Employers actively mobilised shared understandings at the normative level of the group, reinforcing and sometimes renegotiating the employee obligations, as they seek to reaffirm their authority in the eyes of all of their employees. This response reflects the collective psychological contracts the employer holds with each of their employees and their concerns to limit the fall-out/damage when one employee commits a violation.
Research limitations/implications – The focus on small firms limits the generality of the findings with further research needed both in smaller and larger organisations to explore how organisational size impacts upon the processes identified, and the effect such incidents have when the organisation is represented by agents such as supervisors or managers. This calls for more in-depth qualitative research in order to explore the highly nuanced experiences of employers and their representatives. The implications of the findings suggest the value of more explicit communication of employee obligations to prevent future psychological contract violation, and the role other employees may usefully play in this process.
Originality/value – This paper contributes to the much-neglected study of employers’ experiences of psychological contract violations committed by their employees.
Keywords: Psychological contract violation, Employers, Small businesses, Employees, Psychological contracts
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation