Management International Review

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 255–281 | Cite as

Collectivist Values, Exchange Ideology and Psychological Contract Preference

  • David C. ThomasEmail author
  • Elizabeth C. Ravlin
  • Yuan Liao
  • Daniel L. Morrell
  • Kevin Au
Research Article


The psychological contract describes a set of individual perceptions concerning the terms of the exchange relationship between individuals and their organizations. While this concept has substantially advanced our knowledge about how individuals relate to their organization, as organizations globalize and workforce diversity increases, it is important to understand how individuals with different cultural value orientations think about these relationships. Our purpose in this study was to isolate, insofar as possible, the effects of the individual level value of cultural collectivism. In this paper, we present evidence from two studies that examine the relationship between the cultural value of collectivism and the preferences that individuals have for firms exhibiting different psychological contract forms. First, we demonstrate experimentally that collectivist orientation has an impact on fundamental beliefs about the nature of exchange. Then, in the second study, we show that collectivist value orientation had its effect on preferences for the psychological contract through beliefs about social exchange. In so doing, we go beyond the simple demonstration of the effects of cultural values to describe the causal chain through which these values operate. Our results suggest that effective management in multicultural organizations ultimately requires a clear understanding of the process whereby values influence beliefs about employment relationships, which has implications for both theory and practice.


Collectivism Psychological contract Exchange ideology 



This paper was supported by a grant to the first author from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and by a grant to the second author from the Center for International Business Education and Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Thomas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth C. Ravlin
    • 2
  • Yuan Liao
    • 3
  • Daniel L. Morrell
    • 4
  • Kevin Au
    • 5
  1. 1.Segal Graduate School of ManagementSimon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Management, Moore School of BusinessUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Managing People in OrganizationsIESE Business SchoolBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Management and MarketingMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA
  5. 5.Department of ManagementThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina

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