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Samantha D. Hansen

Construct clarity refers to the precision of a construct’s conceptual definition and the extent to which that definition is consistently adopted in the literature. Construct ambiguity makes it difficult to understand how particular findings fit relative to others in the literature, impeding the ability to understand fully the phenomenon in question. This has negative implications both for scholarly advancement and for practice. In this chapter, the author identifies and addresses problems of construct ambiguity in the study of psychological contracts. The author’s assessment suggests that construct ambiguity has interfered with the coherence of this literature. For example, the term ‘psychological contract’ has represented distinct constructs (i.e., the jingle fallacy), and different terms (e.g., ‘breach’, ‘violation’) have represented the same concept (i.e., jangle fallacy). The author discusses recent efforts to strengthen construct clarity in the study of psychological contracts and suggests next steps to further build a coherent literature.

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Safâa Achnak and Samantha D. Hansen

The psychological contract has been widely used in the study of the ever-changing employee–employer relationship. However, most existing research has used ‘timeless’ theories and research methods. Consequently, there is a lack of knowledge about how the employment relationship develops and changes over time as a process. Further, little is known about how such dynamics relate to changes in other work-related phenomena. An understanding of these dynamic relationships is needed to grasp fully the reality of the employment relationship. This chapter aims to highlight the pertinence of incorporating ‘time’ and ‘timing’ in the study of psychological contracts. Indeed, the incorporation of temporal features such as processes, trajectories, and reciprocity will give rise to new and interesting time-sensitive research questions and research methods that can better inform work relationships.

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Samantha D. Hansen and Yannick Griep

Like organizational commitment, research on the ‘psychological contract’ (PC) provides an important framework for helping employers to understand and manage their relationships with employees. A PC represents the employee’s beliefs about mutual obligations exchanged with the employer. This chapter offers an overview of key topics and theoretical refinement in the study of PCs, with special attention to theoretical and empirical connections with organizational commitment. Although organizational commitment is treated primarily as an outcome variable in the extant PC literature, recent theoretical developments in the study of PCs suggest a far more complex role of organizational commitment for future research. The authors discuss several exciting opportunities for the concurrent study of PCs and organizational commitment (for example, how commitment changes over time as a function of PC phase) and explore how the organizational commitment literature can inform future exploration of PC processes.