Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 253–278 | Cite as

Working in Imbalance: How Employees Revise Their Psychological Contracts in a Post-Breach Environment

  • Alan J. Krause
  • Sarah Y. Moore


In the post-violation model of the psychological contract, employees who have experienced violation engage in a variety of coping strategies and, more often than not, form a new psychological contract and continue to work for their employer. Our study applies this theoretical model to actual employees’ descriptions of how they deal with psychological contract violation and develop new psychological contracts. We collected interview data from 27 employees at a large manufacturing organization in which dramatic, irreversible company-wide change not only violated employees’ psychological contracts but also provided few obvious opportunities to repair them. Through template analysis of interview transcripts, we chronicle employees’ coping processes, inventory their new psychological contracts, and assess the quality of their employment relationships. We found that some employees effected extensive changes to their psychological contracts, some engaged in an unexpectedly long process of adjustment, and some compromised their self-interest to uphold their pre-violation psychological contracts. Our findings generally map to the post-violation model, but with important refinements that accentuate employees’ role in recreating their psychological contracts, the durability of their psychological contracts, and the role of the psychological contract as a coping mechanism.


Psychological contract Post-violation Employee agency Resilience Psychological contract renegotiation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by either of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
corrected publication September/2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business and LeadershipUniversity of Puget SoundTacomaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Puget SoundTacomaUSA

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