Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 121–139

Psychological and implied contracts in organizations

  • Denise M. Rousseau

DOI: 10.1007/BF01384942

Cite this article as:
Rousseau, D.M. Employ Respons Rights J (1989) 2: 121. doi:10.1007/BF01384942


Two forms of unwritten contracts derive from relations between organizations and their members. Psychological contracts are individual beliefs in a reciprocal obligation between the individual and the organization. Implied contracts are mutual obligations characterizing interactions existing at the level of the relationship (e.g., dyadic, interunit). Employee/employer relations and changing conditions of employment give rise to issues not addressed in conventional transaction-oriented models of motivation and individual responses. The development, maintenance, and violation of psychological and implied contracts are described along with their organizational implications.

Key Words

employment relations psychological contracts implied contracts at-will-employment employment obligations 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denise M. Rousseau
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Organization Behavior, Kellogg Graduate School of ManagementNorthwestern UniversityEvanston

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