Reactions to psychological contract breaches and organizational citizenship behaviours: An experimental manipulation of severity

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Stress and Health


Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Grounded in affective events theory, we investigated the effects of experimentally manipulated psychological contract breaches on participants' feelings of violation, subsequent perceptions of psychological contract strength, and organizational citizenship behaviours in a sample of working adults. Results support previous findings that pre-existing relational psychological contract strength interacts with severity of unmet promises or expectations. Specifically, individuals with high relational contracts who experience low severity of unmet promises/expectations have the lowest breach perceptions, whereas individuals with high relational contracts who experience more severe levels unmet promises/expectations experience the highest level of breach perceptions. Results also support the concept of a breach spiral in that prior perceptions of breach led to an increased likelihood of subsequent perceptions of breach following the experimental manipulation. Furthermore, consistent with affective events theory, results support the argument that a psychological contract breach's effect on specific organizational citizenship behaviours is mediated by feelings of violation and the reassessment of relational contracts. These effects were present even after controlling for the direct effects of the manipulated severity of unmet promises/expectations.

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