The current state of the psychological contract literature emphasizes processes of personal exchange at the individual level of analysis, thus offering an under-socialized picture. In redressing this problem, the author offers an alternative by exploring what psychological contracting might look like if viewed as a socially situated process. He does this by examining person-centric and alternative ‘normative-contextual’ assumptions in four substantive areas: level of analysis, the role of social influence, the organization as interaction partner, and the societal context. In articulating the normative-contextual perspective as an alternative in these four substantive areas, he forwards a process model that shows how personal exchange is embedded in group and institutional environments within the organization and in the larger society. Finally, upon re-reading the classical works on the psychological contract and social exchange theory, the author finds surprisingly strong fragments in favour of the normative-contextual perspective.
Woody van Olffen, Omar N. Solinger and Robert A. Roe
Studying the dynamic nature of commitment – that is: the process of committing – requires a fitting temporal process mindset. This involves thoughts and ideas on how phenomena change, grow, vary, and terminate over time. If we truly want to come to grips with the role of time and change, however, we also need to set up our studies in such a way that theory and research design are aligned with our measurement practices. The study of temporal process research comes with a new set of principles and measurement criteria that are not in line with conventional ‘differential’ thinking. Measuring commitment as a ‘timeless’ trait is fundamentally different from measuring it as an evolving process. The authors specify five critical areas of difference and forward new design features for an instrument to properly measure the committing process. Many of these features contrast starkly with those of conventional cross-sectional commitment research instruments.