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A multi-study investigation of the role of psychological needs in understanding behavioural reactions to psychological contract breach

Chang, Chiachi (2018) A multi-study investigation of the role of psychological needs in understanding behavioural reactions to psychological contract breach. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.pnyn8fs2gaa3

Abstract

A significant body of empirical work attests to the negative consequences of psychological contract breach for employees and organizations. Two dominant explanations draw on social exchange theory and affective-events theory arguing that breach influences employees’ felt reciprocity and feelings of violation respectively, which in turn influences their contributions at work. However, breach has been found to produce stronger effect on attitudes versus behaviours (Conway & Briner, 2009), suggesting that there is insufficient knowledge about employees’ motivation after the experience of psychological contract breach. Herein lies the starting point of this thesis, which adopts a thwarted psychological need perspective to examine the motivational mechanism between psychological contract breach and employees’ behaviour. The focus on thwarted needs offers an alternative explanatory reason for why psychological contract breach matters, and extends the impact of breach from cognitions and emotions to psychological needs. With three empirical studies, this thesis aims to explore the role of thwarted need to control in understanding how employees’ respond to psychological contract breach. Study 1, a scenario-based experiment, supports the idea that breach can thwart employees’ state of need to control, which can in turn influence their intentions to engage in citizenship behaviours. Study 2 consists of a time-lagged survey with multi-source data of 163 Taiwanese employees in the service industry. The study findings reveal that thwarted need to control mediates the effect of breach on employees’ citizenship behaviours, and that employees’ implicit theories of employee-organization relationship moderates this mediating process. Study 3 consists of a three time-point survey of 124 EMBA Taiwanese employees over a six-month period. Study 3 replicates and extends the findings of study 2 by demonstrating that thwarted need to control provides a unique explanation (beyond established mechanisms such as felt obligation and feelings of violation) to explaining why employees withdraw their citizenship behaviour towards individuals, demonstrating its uniqueness in the aftermath of employees’ breach experience. This thesis expands existing knowledge of why psychological contract breach matters, and discusses the implications and directions for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Chiachi Chang
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Departments > Management
Supervisor: Coyle-Shapiro, Jacqueline
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3641

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