Psychological Contracts Across Cultures

Organization Studies 31(11): 1437–1458, ISSN 0170–8406, DOI: 10.1177/0170840610380811

Posted: 27 Jan 2016

See all articles by David C. Thomas

David C. Thomas

UNSW Business School

Stacey Fitzsimmons

Gustavson School of Business

Elizabeth C. Ravlin

University of South Carolina - Darla Moore School of Business

Kevin Au

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Department of Management

Bjørn Ekelund

Human Factor AS

Cordula Barzantny

Toulouse Business School

Date Written: January 1, 2010

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between national culture and individuals’ psychological contracts. Predicted relationships were drawn from prior theory that identified cognitive and motivational mechanisms through which culture manifests its influence. The dominant forms of psychological contracts were evaluated against predictions based on the national-level cultural values of vertical and horizontal individualism and collectivism in four countries. Results of interviews with 57 participants indicated that French interviewees (vertical individualist) described their psychological contracts as primarily exploitive, Canadians (horizontal individualist) as primarily instrumental, Chinese (vertical collectivist) as primarily custodial and Norwegians (horizontal collectivist) as primarily communitarian. Exploration of the conditions under which patterns deviated from those predicted by the theory indicates potential areas for future theoretical development.

Keywords: culture, psychological contract, cross-cultural

JEL Classification: M12

Suggested Citation

Thomas, David C. and Fitzsimmons, Stacey and Ravlin, Elizabeth C. and Au, Kevin and Ekelund, Bjørn and Barzantny, Cordula, Psychological Contracts Across Cultures (January 1, 2010). Organization Studies 31(11): 1437–1458, ISSN 0170–8406, DOI: 10.1177/0170840610380811 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2722014

David C. Thomas

UNSW Business School ( email )

UNSW Business School
High St
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Stacey Fitzsimmons

Gustavson School of Business ( email )

3800 Finnerty Rd
Victoria, British Columbia V8P 5C2
Canada

Elizabeth C. Ravlin

University of South Carolina - Darla Moore School of Business ( email )

1705 College St
Francis M. Hipp Building
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

Kevin Au

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Department of Management ( email )

Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong

Bjørn Ekelund

Human Factor AS ( email )

P.O. Box 86
OSLO, NO-0216
Norway

HOME PAGE: http://www.human-factors.no

Cordula Barzantny (Contact Author)

Toulouse Business School ( email )

20, bd Lascrosses
Toulouse, 31068
France
+33 561294933 (Phone)
+33 561294994 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.tbs-education.fr/fr/recherche-et-professeurs/professeurs/professeurs-permanents-affilies/

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