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Neil Conway and Claire Pekcan

The authors provide a critical introduction to the psychological contract by reviewing important challenges researchers have raised previously against the psychological contract, and outline gaps in understanding that can guide future research. They focus on nine key challenges and for each consider why the challenge is important and the extent to which it has been addressed. What emerges from their review is that, while there have been several major critiques of the psychological contract, the challenges raised by these critiques in terms of addressing fundamental aspects of the psychological contract—such as its implicitness, the nature of the exchange, the interaction of the two parties, and how it should be managed—have been largely unaddressed. The authors believe that the best way to advance understanding of psychological contracts is to revisit the challenges, along with the associated issues of designing empirical research to investigate complex implicit, multiparty, intersubjective phenomena.