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Thomas Rigotti and Jeroen de Jong

Psychological contracts have been extensively studied as a framework for describing social exchange processes implied in employment relationships. An important stream of research has dealt with the consequences of psychological contract evaluations. Over the years, growing evidence has indicated that the psychological contract–outcome link is not a simple linear one. In this chapter, the authors review theoretical ideas as well as different study designs and empirical approaches dealing with non-linear relations between psychological contract evaluations and diverse outcomes. They also discuss the role of moderator variables at the macro-level (societal system, culture, and labour market), meso-level (organisational characteristics, culture, and politics), and micro-level (individual characteristics). This chapter contributes to a nuanced understanding of differential effects caused by psychological contracts, and provides ideas for future refinement of theoretical processual models linking the formation and dynamic changes of psychological attitudes to the behaviour as well as the well-being of employees.

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Jeroen de Jong and Thomas Rigotti

This chapter aims to review and summarize research that uses experimental designs to study psychological contracts. Experimental designs can help in gaining a more thorough understanding about the concept of psychological contracts, mainly owing to the opportunity to isolate specific influences and dynamics that are difficult to study in the field. In this chapter the authors show how content and breach of the psychological contract are manipulated, and provide an overview of the results of these experiments. They introduce a tentative research agenda with topics in psychological contract research that could benefit from experimental research designs. They argue that different experimental designs, including between-subject, within-subject, and field or quasi-experiments, can provide opportunities to further unravel the concept of psychological contracts, the role of time in the development and impact of psychological contracts, and the aftermath of psychological contract evaluations.

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Jos Akkermans, Simon de Jong, Jeroen de Jong and P. Matthijs Bal

The literature on psychological contract formation and evaluation is extremely rich, yet the role of social context has been under-researched. Studying the role of social context, however, is important, as psychological contract formation, fulfilment, and breach are likely to be influenced by social contextual factors such as supervisors, colleagues, and team members. In this chapter, the authors bring together the available literature on the role of social context in the psychological contract, thereby distinguishing between three main approaches: individual-level, direct consensus, and referent shift. Following from these three approaches, the authors argue that single-level research has a rich foundation, yet multi-level research is still relatively new and unexplored. Further, they distinguish between idiosyncratic and shared psychological contracts, thereby arguing that the latter especially is in need of more theorizing and empirical work. In all, the authors hope that this chapter inspires researchers to explore the role of social context in psychological contract processes.

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Leon A.G. Oerlemans, Jan M.P. de Kok and Jeroen P.J. de Jong