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Exploring Reciprocity Through The Lens Of The Psychological Contract: Employee And Employer Perspectives

Jacqueline A-M. Coyle-Shapiro, Ian Kessler
Published 2002 · Psychology

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This article explores reciprocity within the exchange relationship between the employee and employer using the psychological contract framework. Specifically, we examine the bi-directionality of the norm of reciprocity. We hypothesize that there will be a positive relationship between perceived employer obligations, fulfilment of obligations, and employee obligations and fulfilment. In addition, we hypothesize that employee fulfilment of obligations will be positively associated with perceived employer obligations. Using a longitudinal survey of 1400 public sector employees and 84 managers, our findings suggest that there is broad agreement between the two parties regarding the norm of reciprocity that governs the relationship. We found that perceived employer obligations at time 1 is positively associated with employees' fulfilment of obligations at time 2 and perceived employer fulfilment of obligations at time 1 is positively related to employee obligations and fulfilment of obligations at time 2. Furthermore, we found that employee fulfilment of obligations at time 1 is positively associated with perceived employer obligations at time 2. Overall, these findings provide initial empirical support for the norm of reciprocity in exchange relationships from both the perspective of employees as well as managers, as employer representatives.
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