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Assessing the Nature of Psychological Contracts: A Validation of Six Dimensions

Luc Sels, Maddy Janssens and Inge van den Brande
Journal of Organizational Behavior
Vol. 25, No. 4 (Jun., 2004), pp. 461-488
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4093722
Page Count: 28
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Assessing the Nature of Psychological Contracts: A Validation of Six Dimensions
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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to develop a feature-oriented assessment of psychological contracts, an underdeveloped approach to psychological contracts. Relying on theoretical frameworks in psychological contract research, industrial relations studies, and a cross-national study on psychological contracts, we identify six dimensions that capture the nature of psychological contracts: tangibility, scope, stability, time frame, exchange symmetry, and contract level. We validate this expanded conceptualization of psychological contracts by developing a nomological network and testing it in a large, representative sample of 1106 employees. The results indicate the significance of formal contract characteristics and HR practices as two antecedents shaping the nature of psychological contracts. In addition, the hypothesized relationships between the three dimensions of time frame, exchange symmetry, and contract level with affective commitment are confirmed as well as the relationships between tangibility, scope and flexibility with personal control. The results further indicate the importance of assessing both employer and employee obligations given the differential effect of the contract makers.

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