Multi-dependence in the formation and development of the distributed psychological contract

Carlos María Alcover, Ramon Rico , William H. Turnley, Mark C. Bolino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The psychological contract (PC) describes the implicit and explicit promises and obligations exchanged by individuals and organizational agents in an employment relationship. While it has typically been assumed that each employee establishes the PC with a single agent (i.e., the organization), it seems more realistic to treat PCs as multi-focused, involving various organizational agents. In a qualitative study of 41 professors employed at two public universities in Spain, we investigate the organizational agents involved in the formation and development of PCs, the mutual promises and obligations made by each party and the degree of PC fulfilment. Our findings reveal the multiplicity of organizational sources involved in the development of PCs and the complications that arise owing to multiple dependence. Based on our results, we discuss the need for a deeper examination of PCs from a multi-foci perspective in order to more fully understand the complex nature of the PC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-29
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


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