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Marjo-Riitta Diehl and Jacqueline A-M. Coyle-Shapiro

Although researchers agree that sensemaking can provide a valuable lens for examining how psychological contract schemas are created, maintained or changed, empirical research on psychological contracts and sensemaking remains limited. In this chapter, the authors take stock of this knowledge base and provide suggestions on how the application of a sensemaking lens might further enrich our understanding of psychological contracts. They argue that sensemaking is an especially useful perspective for further illuminating psychological contract processes in the context of high uncertainty, the employer perspective, and the overall role of social context in which psychological contract perceptions are developed. They also consider the implications of greater integration between sensemaking and psychological contract literatures for the choice of methodology adopted in empirical investigations.

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Hermien Wiechers, Jacqueline A-M. Coyle-Shapiro, Xander Lub and Steven ten Have

This chapter contributes to existing literature on psychological contracts by adopting a process-oriented lens to understand how psychological contract breach occurs. Drawing on neuroscientific insights, the authors extend and complement recently developed work on psychological contract dynamism by examining the intra-individual processes that precede the cognition of psychological contract breach. They argue that breach is affected by direct, indirect, and slow triggers that elicit conscious attention to the psychological contract terms and demand a shift from automatic processing to conscious attention. Moreover, stimuli matching with the (preconsciously buffered) memories of past triggers—connected triggers—will effortlessly activate the psychological contract. This results in an idiosyncratic chain of connected triggers processed in a cumulative manner, building up the pressure in the employment relationship and exacerbating the impact of breach. A better knowledge and understanding of these processes will offer employers alternative modes for handling and managing perceptions of psychological contract breach.