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.
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