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THE IMPACT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTRACTS DIMENSIONS ON ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITMENT: A FIELD STUDY OF ACADEMICIANS

Abstract:

The main object of this paper is to examine the impact of psychological contracts dimensions (tangibility, scope and time) on organizational commitment in the foundation universities. The concept of the psychological contract has recently become very popular as a way of examining and exploring a series of mutual expectations and satisfaction of needs arising from the people-organization relationship. According to Herriot, Manning and Kidd (1997;51) a psychological contract refers to the perceptions of mutual obligations to each other held by the two parties in the employment relationship, the organization and the employee. McDonald and Makin (2000;86) note that there are obvious links between the nature of the psychological contract and the individual’s commitment to the organization. In this study, it will be used a feature-oriented assessment of psychological contracts. Sels, Janssens and Brande (2004;461-62) defined the feature-oriented assessment as ‘to compare the contract to some attribute or dimension, such as the degree to which the contract is implicit/explicit or stable/unstable over time. Sels, Janssens and Brande(2004) identify six dimensions: Tangibility, scope, stability, time frame, exchange symmetry, and contract level. In this study, only three dimensions (tangibility, time frame and scope) will be used for assessing the psychological contracts. Consistent with the definition of psychological contracts, we focus on both employer and employee obligations. The original population of this study consisted of all academicians in the foundation universities in Turkey. It has been reveal no differences of statistical significance between mean scores of demographic factors and both organizational commitment and perceived psychological contracts. The second part of survey the items for perceived psychological contracts and organizational commitment. In participants’ psychological contracts, it is revealed that perceived employee obligations are more important than perceived employer obligations. As a result, while organization commitment is not associated with three dimensions of psychological contract regarding employee obligations, organizational commitment is positively associated with more tangible, long term and broad scope contracts regarding employee obligations.

INTRODUCTION

The concept of the psychological contract has recently become very popular as a way of examining and exploring a series of mutual expectations and satisfaction of needs arising from the people-organization relationship.
Rousseau (1989;24) indicate that “When an individual perceives that contributions he or she makes obligate the organization to reciprocity (or vice versa), a psychological contract emerges.” According to Herriot, Manning and Kidd (1997;51) a psychological contract refers to the perceptions of mutual obligations to each other held by the two parties in the employment relationship, the organization and the employee. Such perceptions may be the result of formal contracts, or they may be implied by the expectations which each holds of the other and which are communicated in a multitude of subtle or not so subtle ways.
Coyle-Shapiro (2002;927) argues that perceived contract breach results in a sense of discrepancy between what is promised and what is fulfilled. This perceived discrepancy between what is promised and what is fulfilled. This perceived discrepancy leads to unmet expectations, a loss of trust and job dissatisfaction,which in turn negatively affects employee contributions. Hui, Lee and Rousseau (2004; 312-313) note that with few exceptions, there has been little examination of how different psychological contract forms impact employee attitudes and behavior. Employees’ beliefs regarding the psychological contract have been found the predict their responses on the job. In a series of the studies, it is reported that the psychological contract and its fulfillment were related to several employee responses, including in-role and extra-role performance, trust, satisfaction, and intention to remain with the organization.
McDonald and Makin (2000;85) indicate that Rousseau found two distinct sets of employee obligations. These she referred to as relational, and transactional. According to Janssens, Sels and Brande (2003;1351) transactional psychological contracts are characterized by a short-term employment relationship in which the performance requirements or mutual obligations can be unambiguously specified. They are fairly specific and economic in nature. In contrast, relational contracts are characterized by long-term employment relationships in which mutual obligations cannot be unambiguously specified. They are both economic and social/emotional in nature, less clearly specified and to a degree open-ended.

Psychological Contracts and Organizational Commitment

McDonald and Makin (2000;86) note that there are obvious links between the nature of the psychological contract and the individual’s commitment to the organization. Those with contracts that are predominantly transactional in nature are unlikely to have high levels of commitment to the organization. Those with relational contracts, on the other hand, may show much higher levels of commitment.
According to Cook and Wall (1980;40) the concept of the organizational commitment refers to a person’s affective reactions to characteristics of his employing organization. It is concerned with feelings of attachment to the goals and values of the organization, one’s role in relation to this, and attachment to the organization for its own sake rather than for its strictly instrumental value. Cook and Wall (1980;40) note that Buchanan, in a study on the development of organizational commitment, distinguishes three components: Identification (pride in the organization; the internalization of the organization’s goals and values), involvement (psychological absorption in the activities of one’s role) and loyalty (affection for and attachment to the organization; a sense of belongingness manifesting as ‘a wish to stay’).
Psychological contracts have three forms of measurement: Content-oriented – examining the specific terms of the contract; feature-oriented – comparing the contract to some attribute or dimension; and evaluation-oriented – assessing the degree of fulfillment, change, or violation. While content-oriented and evaluation-oriented measurements are well-known approaches to understand psychological contracts, feature measures are rather underdeveloped. In this study, it will be used a feature-oriented assessment of psychological contracts.
Sels, Janssens and Brande (2004;461-62) defined the feature-oriented assessment as ‘to compare the contract to some attribute or dimension, such as the degree to which the contract is implicit/explicit or stable/unstable over time. Its features are adjectives that characterize summary features of the contract and the ways in which it was conveyed or interpreted.
Following the theoretical frameworks of MacNeil (1985) and Rousseau and McLean Parks (1993), industrial relations studies, and a cross-national study on psychological contracts (Rousseau & Schalk, 2000), Sels, Janssens and Brande(2004) identify six dimensions: Tangibility, scope, stability, time frame, exchange symmetry, and contract level. In this study, only three dimensions (tangibility, time frame and scope) will be used for assessing the psychological contracts. Originating from MacNeil’s (1985) contractual continuum, Sels, Janssens and Brande (2004;466-467) indicate that tangibility is defined as the degree to which the employee perceives the terms of the contract as unambiguously defined, explicitly specified and clearly observable for third parties. The dimension of ‘scope’ refers to the extent to which the boundary between one’s employment relationship and other aspects of one’s life is seen as permeable distinguishing between contracts with a narrow or broad scope. Time frame as psychological contract dimension refers to the perceived duration of the employment relationship.
Consistent with the definition of psychological contracts, we focus on both employer and employee obligations. Although most researchers tend to agree with the reciprocal nature of psychological contracts, only a few studies (Rousseau, 1990; Robinson et al., 1994; Flood, Turner, Ramamoorthy & Pearson,2001) have assessed the individual’s perception regarding the mutual obligations of both parties to the relationship.

METHOD

This study will examine the contribution of the psychological contract framework to understanding organizational commitment using survey data gathered from foundation universities academicians in İstanbul,Turkey. There are some hypotheses below:

Hypothesis 1: Organizational commitment will be positively associated with the scope dimension of psychological contract regarding employee obligations.

Hypothesis 2: Organizational commitment will be positively associated with the scope dimension of psychological contract regarding employer obligations.

Hypothesis 3: Organizational commitment will be positively associated with the time dimension of psychological contract regarding employee obligations.

Hypothesis 4: Organizational commitment will be positively associated with the time dimension of psychological contract regarding employer obligations.

Hypothesis 5: Organizational commitment will be positively associated with the tangibility dimension of psychological contract regarding employee obligations.

Hypothesis 6: Organizational commitment will be positively associated with the tangibility dimension of psychological contract regarding employer obligations.

The original population of this study consisted of all academicians in the foundation universities in Turkey. With new 5 universities there are 30 foundation universities in Turkey. 27 of these were established after 1996 and 18 of these are in İstanbul. There are ten foundation universities operating in İstanbul for ten years at least and 3887 academicians. The data used in this study are gathered from 5 universities. There are 1468 academicians in these universities. For this study, this is an obligation that these academicians is working in the current organization for 1 year at least. Upon evaluating these boundaries it has been sent 500 survey form and only 202 of these have been responded. For this study, 200 survey form have been evaluated.

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

The first part of survey consists of demographic features such as gender, age, job status, job experience, working time in the current organization. Participants’ mean of age is 34.47 year, mean of job experience is 7.15 year and working time in the current organization is 3.38 year. Participants’ 51 percent is lecturer or teaching associate, 27 percent is research assistant, 15 percent is assistant professor, 4 percent is associate professor and 3 percent is professor.
It has been reveal no differences of statistical significance between mean scores of demographic factors and both organizational commitment and perceived psychological contracts.
The second part of survey the items for perceived psychological contracts and organizational commitment. Respondents indicated on a 5 point scale. (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither agree nor disagree, 4=agree, 5=strongly agree) to what extent they agreed with the item. In both scale it has been anticipated that perceived psychological contracts and organizational commitment of participants will be increased. As mentioned before, psychological contract scale of Jansens, Sels and Brande approached as a feature-oriented and organizational commitment scale of Cook and Wall aimed to see reflection of activated perception are used.
Psychological contracts evaluated regarding both employee obligations and employer obligations. These obligations were also evaluated scope, tangibility and time-frame dimensions of psychogical contracts and measured if these obligations have any relationship with organizational commitment.
In this study, mean score of organizational commitment is 3.290. Therefore, it can be said that the academicians worked in these foundation universities haven’t got high commitment to their organizations. As the result of three dimensions of perceived employer obligations, the mean score of scope dimension is 4.468, tangibility dimension is 4.408 and time dimension is 3.874. On the other hand, the result of three dimensions of perceived employee obligations the mean score of scope dimension is 3.846, tangibility dimension is 3.552 and time dimension is 2.963.
Scope dimension of employer obligations is not associated with organizational commitment (r=0.024 and p>0,01) This means that although academicians perceive that employer obligations must be broad scope, this situation doesn’t affect the level of organizational commitment. Time and tangibility dimensions of employer obligations are not associated with organizational commitment either. In spite of perceived long term working in the current organization there is no relationship with organizational commitment. (r=0.063 and p>0,01) In addition, perceptions about tangibility dimension doesn’t affect organizational commitment regarding employer obligations. (r=0.133 and p>0,01) As a result, the dimensions of psychological contract regarding employer obligations is not associated with organizational commitment. Therefore, hyphotesis 2, hyphotesis 4 and hyphotesis 6 are not supported.
On the other hand, organizational commitment is positively associated with scope, tangibility and time dimensions of psychological contract regarding employee obligations. In fact, perceptions of employee related to their obligations are more important than employer obligations regarding organizational commitment. Academicians, in their psychological contracts the more they perceive their obligations broad scope the more they commit their organizations. (r=0.346 and p< 0,01) When academicians perceive that their employers want them to work long term, their organizational commitment increase. (r=0.487 and p< 0,01) In addition, academicians who make psychological contract with perceiving that their employers’ demand clearly their commitment is affected positively. (r=0.317 and p< 0,01) Therefore, hypothesis 1, 3 and 5 are supported.

CONCLUSION

In this study, mean score of organizational commitment is 3.290. As mentioned in Turkey’s High Education Strategy, (YOK Publication, p.168) the main problem of the foundation universities in Turkey is not being institutional organizations. Although the management staff have experience in public universities, that is founders of these universities see these organizations like a company affect negatively the process of institutionalization. In addition, some foundation universities which have no strong foundation supported them can not pay high income to academicians, increase their duties and reduce supporting academic studies. In participants’ psychological contracts, it is revealed that perceived employee obligations are more important than perceived employer obligations.
As a result, while organization commitment is not associated with three dimensions of psychological contract regarding employee obligations, organizational commitment is positively associated with more tangible, long term and broad scope contracts regarding employee obligations. As seen in this study, the academicians’ attitude and behaviour about the impact of psychological contracts dimensions on organizational commitment is related to only their perception not to reality.

REFERENCES

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