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 4: Putting emotion first—an emotion-centred approach to understanding the psychological contract

Tina Kiefer and Anne Antoni


The psychological contract literature has long acknowledged the role of emotions, especially regarding the consequences of the experience of breach and violation. The authors argue here that the field could benefit from a better integration of knowledge on the nature of emotions by drawing on the field of psychology of emotion. They first present the different components of emotion to critically examine the role of emotions in psychological contract literature. They develop an emotion-centred view of psychological contracts with four core suggestions: focusing on emotional events, including seemingly mundane events, rather than on general evaluative judgements about the organization; emphasizing fulfilment as a phenomenon in its own right; exploring the social influence of emotional psychological contract events; and shifting methods to capture an emotion-centred approach. Linking research on emotion and research on psychological contracts opens up new avenues for a richer understanding of the role of emotions for the psychological contract phenomenon.

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