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 16: Emerging, crystalizing, and changing psychological contracts over time: introducing the iPC-network model

Tim Vantilborgh


This chapter introduces the individual psychological contract network (iPC-network) model as an alternative approach for studying psychological contracts. This model departs from the idea that a psychological contract forms a mental schema containing obligated inducements and contributions, which are exchanged for each other. This mental schema is captured by a dynamic network in which the nodes represent the inducements and contributions and the ties represent the exchanges. Building on dynamic systems theory, the author proposes that these networks evolve over time towards attractor states, at the level both of the network structure and of the nodes. He highlights how the iPC-network model integrates recent theoretical developments in the psychological contract literature and explains how it might advance scholars’ understanding of exchange relationships. This would allow for more precise predictions of psychological contract breach and fulfilment consequences and would explain how the content and process of the psychological contract continuously influence each other.

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