Psychological and implied contracts in organizations

“Promise is most given when least is said.” (George Chapman,Hero and Leander, 1598)

Abstract

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.

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Rousseau, D.M. Psychological and implied contracts in organizations. Employ Respons Rights J 2, 121–139 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01384942

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Key Words

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