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Psychological Contracts Across Cultures

D. Thomas, Stacey R. Fitzsimmons, Elizabeth C. Ravlin, K. Au, Bjørn Z. Ekelund, Cordula Barzantny
Published 2010 · Psychology

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This paper explores the relationship between national culture and individuals’ psychological contracts. Predicted relationships were drawn from prior theory that identified cognitive and motivational mechanisms through which culture manifests its influence. The dominant forms of psychological contracts were evaluated against predictions based on the national-level cultural values of vertical and horizontal individualism and collectivism in four countries. Results of interviews with 57 participants indicated that French interviewees (vertical individualist) described their psychological contracts as primarily exploitive, Canadians (horizontal individualist) as primarily instrumental, Chinese (vertical collectivist) as primarily custodial and Norwegians (horizontal collectivist) as primarily communitarian. Exploration of the conditions under which patterns deviated from those predicted by the theory indicates potential areas for future theoretical development.
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