Same Words, Different Worlds: Exploring Differences in Researcher and Participant Understandings of Promise and Obligation in the Psychological Contract

Ma, Guoxin and Blenkinsopp, John and Armstrong, Steve (2019) Same Words, Different Worlds: Exploring Differences in Researcher and Participant Understandings of Promise and Obligation in the Psychological Contract. Journal of Management and Organization . pp. 1-15. ISSN 1833-3672

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1017/jmo.2018.76

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Same Words, Different Worlds: Exploring Differences in Researcher and Participant Understandings of Promise and Obligation in the Psychological Contract
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Abstract

This paper addresses longstanding questions about promise and obligation, two of the key conceptual building blocks for psychological contract research, are conceptualized and operationalized: How do employees understand these concepts? Would their un-derstandings be congruent with the researchers’ and how would this knowledge inform future psychological contract research? Drawing on interviews with 61 Chinese work-ers from diverse backgrounds, our results suggest the concepts have distinct meanings for participants in terms of three criteria (defining characteristics, key features, and manifestations in employment). We argue that promise and obligation are likely to serve different functions in employment relationship, and have different meanings for researchers versus participants, and accordingly we highlight the challenges of using them to conceptualize and operationalize psychological contracts in China and beyond.

Keywords:psychological contract China Qualitative Promise Obligation
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N200 Management studies
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:34990
Deposited On:18 Feb 2019 11:00

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