Handbook of Research on the Psychological Contract at Work
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Handbook of Research on the Psychological Contract at Work

Edited by Yannick Griep and Cary Cooper

The psychological contract is considered a critical construct in organizational behavior literature because it informs employee emotions, attitudes, and behaviors in the workplace. Although the psychological contract has been explored extensively over the last 50 years, numerous theoretical, conceptual, empirical, methodological, and analytical changes have pushed the field forward. As such, it is time to take stock and move forward. The contributors to this Handbook explore in detail this important component of modern management thinking.
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Chapter 2: Mutuality and reciprocity in the psychological contract: a critical review and analysis

René Schalk and Melanie De Ruiter


The applicability and relevance of the terms ‘mutuality’ and ‘reciprocity’ for psychological contract research have been debated. While the terms are widely referred to in studies on psychological contracts, there seems to be no clear consensus on their definitions. Moreover, most existing research has used reciprocity as a theoretical underpinning to help explain the negative relationship between psychological contract breach and employee outcomes. However, considering the conceptualization of reciprocity, such research seems not to have been able to adequately capture reciprocity. The aim of this chapter is to further our understanding of mutuality and reciprocity and assess how these concepts have been defined and operationalized in existing research. A systematic review of empirical studies in which reciprocity and mutuality were examined was conducted. Based on this review, the authors offer proposals for clear definitions and assessments of mutuality and reciprocity. The chapter concludes with several recommendations for future research.

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