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The changing nature of the employment relationship: mapping a subjective terrain of the psychological contract

Parkinson, A. P. (1998) The changing nature of the employment relationship: mapping a subjective terrain of the psychological contract. DBA thesis, Henley Business School, University of Reading

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This thesis builds on existing theory and literature to provide a multi-disciplinary, qualitative approach to viewing the employment relationship through the psychological contract. It aims at providing a perspective unavailable in previous published empirical work in what is a relatively new, but burgeoning field. The conceptual framework that the research inquiry draws on initially has its roots in organisational commitment and the psychological contract, although later this is supplemented by a career perspective as other factors emerge. Taking a constructivist viewpoint, the thesis explores the methodological considerations that this entails, and is followed by exploration of empirical evidence. A pilot study in 18 companies tested both the relevance of the research questions and the implications of the methods to be employed, and then the main study in one of the pilot organisations focuses on the experiences of ten managers and a further six professionals using Schein' s career anchor interview method. Following the analysis using inductive, intuitive methods and computer aided analysis such as cluster and correspondence analysis, a typology emerges based on the dimensions of the level of formality the individual sought in their employment relationship and how active they were in managing their career. From this analysis, vignettes of five emergent characters are developed to illustrate the different perspectives of their employment relationship that this particular group of individuals appeared to have. Influenced by values, attitudes and beliefs, a major contributor to determining their view seems to be that of the relationship individuals have with their line manager, who represents the organisation to them. Other significant factors would appear to be locus of control, self image, social identity, and the life or career stage that they have entered. Finally the thesis suggests a number of implications for organisations and individuals, as well as suggestions for further research.

Item Type:Thesis (DBA)
Thesis Supervisor:Joynt, P. and Cox, P.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Management College
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School
ID Code:85822


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