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 3: Psychological contracts: time for some conceptual clarity

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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