Psychological Contract Development: An Integration of Existing Knowledge to Form a Temporal Model

Kelly Windle, Kathryn von Treuer


The psychological contract has received substantial theoretical attention over the past two decades as a popular framework within which to examine contemporary employment relationships. Previous research mostly examines breach and violation of the psychological contract and its impact on employee organization outcomes. Few studies have employed longitudinal, prospective research designs to investigate the psychological contract and as a result, psychological contract content and formation are incompletely understood. It is argued that employment relationships may be better proactively managed with greater understanding of formation and changes in the psychological contract. We examine existing psychological contract literature to identify five key factors proposed to contribute to the formation of psychological contracts. We extend the current research by integrating these factors for the first time into a temporal model of psychological contract development.


Psychological contract; psychological contract type; employment relationships; temporal change; social accounts; met expectations; socialisations

Full Text:



Ashforth, B. E., Sluss, D. M., & Harrison, S. H. (2007). Socialization in organizational contexts. In G. P. Hodgkinson & J. K. Ford (Eds.), International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 2007 Volume 22 (pp. 1-70). England: John Wiley & Sons.

Atkinson, C. (2007). Trust and the psychological contract. Employee Relations, 29, 227-246.

Bal, P. M., Chiaburu, D. S., & Jansen, P. G. W. (2010). Psychological contract breach and work performance: Is social exchange a buffer or an intensifier? Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25, 252-273.

Bal, P. M., De Lange, A. H., Jansen, P. G. W., & Van Der Velde, M. E. G. (2008). Psychological contract breach and job attitudes: A meta-analysis of age as a moderator. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 72, 143-158.

Bellou, V. (2007a). Psychological contract assessment after a major organizational change: The case of mergers and acquisitions. Employee Relations, 29, 68-88.

Blancero, D. M., DelCampo, R. G., Gao, T., & Lewis, P. D. (2009). Insights in Hispanic business professionals, perceived organizational support and psychological contracts: Report from a large scale national study. International Journal of Business Research, 9, 106-111.

Blomme, R. J., van Rheede, A., & Tromp, D. M. (2010). The use of the psychological contract to explain turnover intentions in the hospitality industry: A research study on the impact of gender on the turnover intentions of highly educated employees. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21, 144-162.

Bordia, P., Restubug, S. L. D., & Tang, R. L. (2008). When employees strike back: Investigating mediating mechanisms between psychological contract breach and workplace deviance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1104-1117.

Boswell, W. R., Shipp, A. J., Payne, S. C., & Culbertson, S. S. (2009). Changes in newcomer job satisfaction over time: Examining the pattern of honeymoons and hangovers. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 844-858.

Bunderson, J. S. (2001). How work ideologies shape the psychological contracts of professional employees: Doctors’ responses to perceived breach. Journal of Organizational Psychology, 22, 717-741.

Cantisano, G. T., Dominguez, J. F. M., & Garcia, J. L. C. (2007). Social comparison and perceived breach of psychological contract: Their effects on burnout in a multigroup analysis. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 10, 122-130.

Chambel, M. J. & Oliveira-Cruz, F. (2010). Breach of psychological contract and the development of burnout and engagement: A longitudinal study among soldiers on a peacekeeping mission. Military Psychology, 22, 110-127.

Chen, Z. X., Tsui, A. S.. & Zhong, L. (2008). Reactions to psychological contract breach: A dual perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29, 527-548.

Conway, N., & Briner, R. B. (2002). A daily diary study of affective responses to psychological contract breach and exceeded promises. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 287-302.

Conway, N., & Briner, R. B. (2005). Understanding Psychological Contracts at Work: A Critical Evaluation of Theory and Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Conway, N., & Coyle-Shapiro, J. A. (2006). Reciprocity and psychological contracts: Employee performance and contract fulfillment. Academy of Management Best Conference Paper 2006 OB: Q1-Q6.

Coyle-Shapiro, J. A., & Conway, N. (2005). Exchange relationships: Examining psychological contracts and perceived organizational support. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 774-781.

Coyle-Shapiro, J., & Kessler, I. (2000). Consequences of the psychological contract for the employment relationship: A large-scale survey. Journal of Management Studies, 37, 903-930.

Coyle-Shapiro, J., & Kessler, I. (2002). Exploring reciprocity through the lens of the psychological contract: Employee and employer perspectives. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology,11, 69-86.

Cross, C., Barry, G., & Garavan, T. N. (2008). The psychological contract in call centers: An employee perspective. Journal of Industrial Relations, 50, 229-242.

Dabos, G. E., & Rousseau, D. M. (2004). Mutuality and reciprocity in the psychological contracts of employees and employers. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 52-72.

De Hauw, S. & De Vos, A. (2010). Millennials’ career perspective and psychological contract expectations: Does the recession lead to lowered expectations? Journal of Business Psychology, 25, 293-302.

De Vos, A., Buyens, D., & Schalk, R. (2003). Psychological contract development during organizational socialization: Adaptation to reality and the role of reciprocity. Journal of Organizational Behaviour,24, 537-559.

De Vos, A., De Sobbeleir, K., & Meganck, A. 2009. The relationship between career-related antecedents and graduates’ anticipatory psychological contracts. Journal of Business Psychology, 24, 289-298.

Deery, S. J., Iverson, R. D., & Walsh, J. T. (2006). Toward a better understanding of psychological contract breach: A study of customer service employees. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 166-175.

DelCampo, R. (2007). Understanding the psychological contract: A direction for the future. Management Research News, 30, 432-440.

Dulac, T., Coyle-Shapiro, J. A. M., Henderson, D. J., & Wayne, S. J. (2008). Not all responses to breach are the same: The interconnection of social exchange and psychological contract processes in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 51, 1079-1098.

Feldman, D. C. 1981. The multiple socialization of organizational members. Academy of Management Review, 6, 309-318.

Grimmer, M., & Oddy, M. (2007). Violation of the psychological contract: The mediating effect of relational versus transactional beliefs. Australian Journal of Management, 32, 153-174.

Guerrero, S. & Herrbach, O. (2008). The affective underpinnings of psychological contract fulfillment. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23, 4-17.

Guzzo, R. A., Noonan, K. A., & Elron, E. (1994). Expatriate managers and the psychological contract. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 617-626.

Henderson, D. J., Wayne, S. J., Shore, L. M., Bommer, W. H., & Tetrick, L. E. (2008). Leader-member exchange, differentiation and psychological contract fulfillment: A multilevel examination. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1208-1219.

Herriot, P., Manning, W. E. G., & Kidd, J. M. (1997). The content of the psychological contract. British Journal of Management, 8, 151-162.

Hess, N. & Jepsen, D. M. (2008). The psychological contract: Investigation of generational and career stage differences. In Academy of Management Proceedings, 1-6.

Hesse, M.1966.Models and Analogies in Science, Notre Dame University Press, Notre Dame (Ind.), 1966

Hilltrop, J-M. (1995). The changing psychological contract: The human resources challenge of the 1990s. European Management Journal, 13, 286-294.

Ho, V. T. (2005). Social influence on evaluations of psychological contract fulfillment. Academy of Management Review, 30, 113-128.

Ho, V. T., & Levesque, L. L. (2005). With a little help from my friends (and substitutes): Social referents and influence in psychological contract fulfillment. Organization Science, 16, 275-289.

Hodgkinson, G. P. & Ford, J. K. (Eds.) (2007). International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 2007 Volume 22. England: John Wiley & Sons.

Hornung, S., Rousseau, D. M.., & Glaser, J. (2008). Creating flexible work arrangements through idiosyncratic deals. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 655-664.

Johnson, J. L., & O’Leary-Kelly, A. M. (2003). The effects of psychological contract breach and organizational cynicism: Not all social exchange violations are created equal. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24, 627-647.

Kiewitz, C., Restubog, S. L. D., Zagenczyk, T., & Hochwarter, W. (2009). The interactive effects of psychological contract breach and organizational politics on perceived organizational support: Evidence from two longitudinal studies. Journal of Management Studies, 46, 806-834.

Kim, M. S. & Choi, J. N. (2010). Layoff victim’s employment relationships with a new employer in Korea: effects of unmet tenure expectations on trust and psychological contract. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21, 781-798.

King, R. C., & Bu, N. (2005). Perceptions of the mutual obligations between employees and employers: A comparative study of new generation IT professionals in China and the United States. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16, 46-64.

Korsgaard, M. A., Sapienza, H. J., & Schweiger, D. M. (2002). Beaten before begun: The role of procedural justice in planning change. Journal of Management, 28, 497-516.

Lambert, L. S., Edwards, J. R., & Cable, D. M. (2003). Breach and fulfillment of the psychological contract: A comparison of traditional and expanded views. Personnel Psychology, 56, 895-934.

Latornell, J. (2007). The relationship between the ‘psychological contract’ and ‘employment relations’. Journal of Industrial Relations, 49, 277-286.

Lermire, L., & Rouillard, C. (2005). An empirical exploration of psychological contract violation and individual behavior: The case of Canadian federal civil servants in Quebec. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 20, 150-163.

Lester, S. W., Kickul, J. R., & Bergmann, T. J. (2007). Managing employee perceptions of the psychological contract over time: The role of employer social accounts and contract fulfillment. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 28, 191-208.

Lester, S. W., Turnley, W. H., Bloodgood, J. M., & Bolino, M. C. (2002). Not seeing eye to eye: Differences in supervisor and subordinate perceptions of attributions for psychological contract breach. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 39-56.

Levy, P. E. (2005). Industrial/Organizational psychology: Understanding the workplace (2nd Ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Linde, B. & Schalk. R. (2008). Influence of pre-merger employment relations and individual characteristics on the psychological contract. South African Journal of Psychology, 38,305-320.

Montes, S. D. & Zweig, D. (2009). Do promises matter? An exploration of the role of promises in psychological contract breach. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1243-1260.

Newton, S. K. & Nowak, L. I. (2010). Employer obligations versus fulfillment and the effects on organizational citizenship and innovative work. Journal of Management and Marketing Research, 2, 1-20.

Ng, T. W. H. & Feldman, D. C. (2008). Can you get a better deal elsewhere? The effects of psychological contract replicability on organizational commitment over time. Journal of Vocational Psychology, 73, 268-277.

Ng, T. W. H., Feldman, D. C., & Lam, S. S. K. (2010). Psychological contract breaches, organizational commitment, and innovation-related behaviors: A latent growth modeling approach. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95, 744-751.

Nickerson, R. S. (1998). Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises. Review of General Psychology, 2, 175-220.

Nikolaou, I., Tomprou, M., & Vakola, M. (2007). Individuals’ inducements and the role of personality: Implications of psychological contracts. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22, 649-663.

O’Donohue, W., Donohue, R., & Grimmer, M. (2007). Research into the psychological contract: Two Australian perspectives. Human Resource Development International, 10, 301-318.

O’Donohue, W., & Nelson, L. (2007). Let’s be professional about this: Ideology and the psychological contracts of registered nurses. Journal of Nursing Management, 15, 547-555.

O’Donohue, W., & Nelson, L. (2009). The role of ethical values in an expanded psychological contract. Journal of Business Ethics, 90, 251-263.

O’Donohue, W., Sheehan, C., Hecker, R., & Holland, P. (2007). The psychological contract of knowledge workers. Journal of Knowledge Management, 11, 73-82.

O’Neill, B. S., & Mone, M. A. (2005). Psychological influences on referent choice. Journal of Managerial Issues, 17, 273-292.

Orvis, K. A., Dudley, N. M., & Cortina, J. M. (2008). Conscientiousness and reactions to psychological contract breach: A longitudinal field study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1183-1193.

Pate, J. (2006). The changing contours of the psychological contract: Unpacking context and circumstances of breach. Journal of European Industrial Training, 30, 32-47.

Pavlou, P. A., & Gefen, D. (2005). Psychological contract violation in online marketplaces: Antecedents, consequences, and moderating roles. Information Systems Research, 16, 372-399.

Payne, S. C., Culbertson, S. S., Boswell, W. R., & Barger, E. J. (2008). Newcomer psychological contracts and employee socialization activities: Does perceived balance in obligations matter? Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73, 465-472.

Raja, U., Johns, G., & Ntalianis, F. (2004). The impact of personality on psychological contracts. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 350-367.

Restobug, S. L. D., Bordia, P., & Tang, R. L. (2006). Effects of psychological contract breach on performance of IT employees: The mediating role of affective commitment. Journal of Occupation and Organizational Psychology, 79, 299-306.

Restobug, S. L. D., Bordia, P., & Tang, R. L. (2007). Behavioral outcomes of psychological contract breach in a non-Western culture: The moderating role of equity sensitivity. British Journal of Management, 18, 376-386.

Restobug, S. L. D., Bordia, P., Tang, R. L., & Krebs, S. A. (2010). Investigating the moderating effects of leader-member exchange in the psychological contract breach-employee performance relationship: A test of two competing perspectives. British Journal of Management, 21, 422-437.

Rigotti, T. (2009). Enough is enough? Threshold models for the relationship between psychological contract breach and job-related attitudes. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 18, 442-463.

Robinson, S. L. (1996). Trust and breach of the psychological contract. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41, 574-599.

Robinson, S. L., & Kraatz, M. S., & Rousseau, D. M. (1994). Changing obligations and the psychological contract: A longitudinal study. The Academy of Management Journal, 37, 137-152.

Robinson, S. L., & Morrison, E. W. (2000). The development of psychological breach and violation: A longitudinal study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 21, 525-546.

Robinson, S. L., & Rousseau, D. M. (1994). Violating the psychological contract: Not the exception but the norm. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15, 245-259.

Rousseau, D. M. (1990). New hire perceptions of their own and their employer obligations: A study of psychological contracts. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 11, 389-400.

Rousseau, D. M. (1995). Psychological contracts in organizations: Understanding written and unwritten agreements. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Rousseau, D. M. (2001). Schema, promise, and mutuality: The building blocks of the psychological contract. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74, 511-541.

Rousseau, D. M. & Tijoriwala, S. A. (1998). Assessing psychological contracts: Issues, alternatives, and measures. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 19, 679-695.

Saunders, M. N. K. & Thornhill, A. (2006) Forced employment contract change and the psychological contract. Employee Relations, 28, 449-467.

Sels, L., Janssens, M., & Van den Brande, I. (2004). Assessing the nature of psychological contracts: A validation of six dimensions. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25, 461-488.

Shore, L. M., & Barksdale, K. (1998). Examining degree of balance and level of obligation in the employment relationship: A social exchange approach. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 19, 731-744.

Sitkin, S. B., & Bies, R. J. (1993). Social accounts in conflict situations: Using explanations to manage conflict. Human Relations, 46, 349-370.

Sturges, J., Conway, N, Guest, D., & Liefooghe, A. (2005). Managing the career deal: The psychological contract as a framework for understanding career management, organizational commitment and work behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 821-838.

Suazo, M. M. (2009). The mediating role of psychological contract violation on the relations between psychological contract breach and work-related attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24, 136-160.

Sutton, G., & Griffin, M. A. (2004). Integrating expectations, experiences, and psychological contract violations: A longitudinal study of new professionals. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77, 493-514.

Svensson, S. & Wolvén, L-E. (2010). Temporary agency workers and their psychological contracts. Employee Relations, 32, 184-199.

Tallman, R. R. J. & Bruning, N. (2008). Relating employees’ psychological contracts to their personality. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23, 688-712.

Thomas, H. D. C., & Anderson, N. (1998). Changes in newcomers’ psychological contracts during organizational socialization: A study of recruits entering the British army. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 19, 745-767.

Thompson, J. A., & Bunderson, J. S. (2003). Violations of principle: Ideological currency in the psychological contract. Academy of Management Review, 28, 571-586.

Turnley, W. H., Bolino, M. C., Lester, S. W., & Bloodgood, J. M. (2003). The impact of psychological contract fulfillment on the performance of in-role and organizational citizenship behaviors. Journal of Management, 29, 187-206.

Tyagi, A. & Agrawal, R. K. (2010). Emerging employment relationships: Issues and concerns in psychological contract. The Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, 45, 381-395.

Uen, J-F., Chien, M. S., & Yen, Y-F. (2009). The mediating effects of psychological contracts on the relationship between human resource systems and role behaviors: A multi-level analysis. Journal of Business Psychology, 24, 215-223.

Wöcke, A. & Sutherland, M. (2008). The impact of employment equity regulations on psychological contracts. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 9, 528-542.

Zhao, H., Wayne, S. J., Glibkowski, B., & Bravo, J. (2007). The impact of psychological contract breach on work-related outcomes: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 60, 647-680.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


If you find difficulties in submitting manuscript please forward your doc file to Our support team will assist you in submission process and other technical matters.

In order to get notifications on inbox please add  this domain in your email safe list.

International journal of business and social research (Print)
ISSN 2164-2540

International journal of business and social research (Online)
ISSN 2164-2559

[International Journal of Business and Social Research (IJBSR) previously published by MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, MD, USA. From February 2018 this journal is published by the LAR Center Press, OR, USA]