Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 90, Issue 2, pp 251–263 | Cite as

The Role of Ethical Values in an Expanded Psychological Contract

  • Wayne O’Donohue
  • Lindsay Nelson


Social values and beliefs systems are playing an increasingly influential role in shaping the attitudes and behavior of individuals and organizations towards the employment relationship. Many individuals seek a broader meaning in their work that will let them feel that they are contributing to the broader community. For many organizations, a willingness to behave ethically and assume responsibility for social and environmental consequences of their activities has become essential to maintaining their ‹license to operate.’ The appearance of these trends in individual and organizational behavior towards outcomes that are more explicitly congruent with ethical and social values has significant implications for understanding the psychological contracts being created today. In this paper, we examine issues associated with the psychological contract and ethical standards of behavior, focusing on both the individual and organizational levels.


ethical values codes of ethics ethical climate psychological contract 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, N., & Schalk, R. (1998). The psychological contract in retrospect and prospect. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 19(S1), 637–647. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(1998)19:1+<637::AID-JOB986>3.0.CO;2-H.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashmos, D.P., & Duchon, D. (2000). Spirituality at work: a conceptualisation and measure. Journal of Management Inquiry, 9(2), 131–145. doi: 10.1177/105649260092008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blake, R.B., & Carroll, D.A. (1989). ‹Ethical reasoning in business’. Training and Development Journal, 43(6), 99–104.Google Scholar
  4. Bloor, G., & Dawson, P. (1994). Understanding professional culture in organizational context. Organization Studies, 15(2), 275–294. doi: 10.1177/017084069401500205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boatright, J.R. 2003, Ethics and the conduct of business, 4th edition (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River NJ).Google Scholar
  6. Bunderson, J.S. (2001). ‹How work ideologies shape the psychological contracts of professional employees: doctors’ responses to perceived breach’. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22(7), 717–741. doi: 10.1002/job.112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burr, R. and P. Thomson: 2002, ‹Expanding the Network: What About Including ‹The All’ in the Psychological Contract’, Paper presented at the Academy of Management Conference, Denver, USAGoogle Scholar
  8. Chih, H.-L., C.-H. Shen and F.-C. Kang: 2007, ‹Corporate Social Responsibility, Investor Protection, and Earnings Management: Some International Evidence’, Journal of Business Ethics (online). doi: 10.1007/s10551-007-9383-7
  9. Collier, J.C., & Esteban, R. (2007). ‹Corporate social responsibility and employee commitment’, Business Ethics. European Review Chichester, England, 16(1), 19–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Coyle-Shapiro, J., Shore, L.M., Taylor, M.S., & Tetrick, L.E. (Eds.).2004, The employment relationship: examining psychological and contextual perspectives, Oxford, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Desai, A.B., & Rittenburg, T. (1997). Global ethics: an integrative framework for MNEs. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(8), 791–800. doi: 10.1023/A:1017920610678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fitzgerald, R. (2007). ‹Uni Disables a Basic Freedom: Outspoken Academics are Entitled to be Heard’, The Australian 14(August), 12Google Scholar
  13. Ford Motor Company: 2007, Accessed 25 Oct 2007
  14. Gandz, J., & Hayes, N. (1988). Teaching business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 7(9), 657–669. doi: 10.1007/BF00382975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hewlett-Packard: 2007, Accessed 25 Oct 2007
  16. Jackson, T. (2000). Management ethics and corporate policy: a cross-cultural comparison. Journal of Management Studies, 37(3), 349–368. doi: 10.1111/1467-6486.00184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kickul, J. (2001). When organizations break their promises: employee reactions to unfair processes and treatment. Journal of Business Ethics, 29(4), 289–307. doi: 10.1023/A:1010734616208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kohlberg, L. 1984, The psychology of moral development: Nature and validity of moral stages, (Harper and Row, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  19. Maclagan, P. (2002). Reflections on the integration of ethics teaching into a British undergraduate management degree programme. Teaching Business Ethics, 6(3), 297–318. doi: 10.1023/A:1016195928199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marks, A. (2001). Developing a multiple foci conceptualisation of the psychological contract. Employee Relations, 23(5), 454–467. doi: 10.1108/EUM0000000005897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Martin, K.D., & Cullen, J.B. (2006). Continuities and extensions of ethical climate theory: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Business Ethics, 69(2), 175–194. doi: 10.1007/s10551-006-9084-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McLean Parks, J., Kidder, D.L., & Gallagher, D.G. (1998). Fitting square pegs into round holes: mapping the domain of contingent work arrangements onto the psychological contract. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 19, 697–730. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(1998)19:1+<697::AID-JOB974>3.0.CO;2-I.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Millward, L.J., & Brewerton, P.M.2000, ‹Psychological contracts: employee relations for the 21st century’. n:C. L. Cooper and I. Robertson (eds), International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 15, (John Wiley & Sons), Chichester, 1–63.Google Scholar
  24. Morrison, E.W., & Robinson, S.L. (1997). When employees feel betrayed: a model of how psychological contract develops. Academy of Management Review, 22(1), 226–256. doi: 10.2307/259230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Napal, G. (2005). An assessment of power abuse under ethics philosophies. Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies, 10(1), 29–34.Google Scholar
  26. Payne, S.L. (1988). Values and ethics-related measures for management education. Journal of Business Ethics, 7(4), 273–277. doi: 10.1007/BF00381832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Petrick, J.A., & Scherer, R.F. (2005). ‹Management educators’ expectations for professional ethics development’. Journal of Business Ethics, 61(4), 301–314. doi: 10.1007/s10551-005-2926-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Robbins, S.P. 2005, Organizational behavior, 11th edition, (Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River NJ).Google Scholar
  29. Robinson, S.L., & Rousseau, D.M. (1994). Violating the psychological contract: not the exception but the norm. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15, 245–259. doi: 10.1002/job.4030150306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rossouw, G.J., & van Vuuren, L.J. (2003). Modes of managing morality: a descriptive model of strategies for managing ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 46(4), 389–402. doi: 10.1023/A:1025645402328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rousseau, D.M. 1995, Psychological contracts in organizations, (Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks).Google Scholar
  32. Rousseau, D.M. (2001). Schema, promise and mutuality: the building blocks of the psychological contract. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74, 511–541. doi: 10.1348/096317901167505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rousseau, D.M., & Tijoriwala, S.A. (1998). Assessing psychological contracts: issues, alternatives and measures’. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 19(S1), 679–695. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(1998)19:1+<679::AID-JOB971>3.0.CO;2-N.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sims, R. (1991). The institutionalization of organizational ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 10(7), 493–506. doi: 10.1007/BF00383348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sims, R.L., & Keon, T.L. (2000). The influence of organizational expectations on ethical decision making conflict. Journal of Business Ethics, 23(2), 219–228. doi: 10.1023/A:1006040109517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sims, R.L., & Kroeck, K.G. (1994). The influence of ethical fit on employee satisfaction, commitment and turnover. Journal of Business Ethics, 13(12), 939–947. doi: 10.1007/BF00881663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Speedy, B.: 2007, ‹Coles Boss Accused Over Fake Numbers’, The Australian 14(August), 3Google Scholar
  38. Takala, T. (2006). Editorial: an ethical enterprise – what is it? Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies, 11(1), 4.Google Scholar
  39. Taylor, S.M., & Tekleab, A.G.2004, ‹Taking stock of psychological contract research: assessing progress, addressing troublesome issues, and setting research priorities’, in J. A-M. Coyle-Shapiro, L. M. Shore, M. S. Taylor & L. E. Tetrick (eds): 2004, The employment relationship: examining psychological and contextual perspectives, (Oxford, New York), pp. 253–283.Google Scholar
  40. Thompson, J.A., & Bunderson, J.S. (2003). Violations of principle: ideological currency in the psychological contract. Academy of Management Review, 28(4), 571–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Turnley, W.H., & Feldman, D.C. (1999). A discrepancy model of psychological contract violations. Human Resource Management Review, 9(3), 367–386. doi: 10.1016/S1053-4822(99)00025-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Victor, B., & Cullen, J.B.1987, ‹A theory and measure of ethical climate in organizations’, in W. Kurtines and J. Gewirtz (eds): 1987, Morality, Moral behaviour, and moral development, (Wiley, New York), pp. 201–281.Google Scholar
  43. Victor, B., & Cullen, J.B. (1988). The organizational bases of ethical work climates. Administrative Science Quarterly, 33(1), 101–125. doi: 10.2307/2392857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Warren, R., & Tweedale, G. (2002). Business ethics and business history: neglected dimensions in management education. British Journal of Management, 13(3), 209–219. doi: 10.1111/1467-8551.00238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Weinberg, J.R., & Yandell, K.E.1971, Ethics: problems in philosophical inquiry Volume III, (Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

Personalised recommendations