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 19: A narrative approach to psychological contracts

Sarah Bankins


The creation and telling of stories is a powerful way for individuals to make sense of their experiences in the world, and through exploring and interpreting these narratives researchers can better understand that experience. In this chapter the author explores the power of a narrative approach for investigating the psychological contract, or the implicit, subjective, and individualized beliefs one party holds regarding the exchange agreement with another. The psychological contract offers an important lens for understanding the operation of the employment exchange; however, narrative inquiry offers the opportunity to explore in richer depth, for example, key processes such as breach and violation, sensemaking, and the operation of the psychological contract in non-traditional work and organizational contexts. The author first provides an overview of the narrative field, then assesses how psychological contract researchers have utilized narratives to date, and finally explores two potential pathways for psychological contract research, focused on narrative and antenarrative analyses.

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