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Does one size fit all? A study of the psychological contract in the UK working population.

Atkinson, Carol and Cuthbert, Peter (2006) Does one size fit all? A study of the psychological contract in the UK working population. International journal of manpower, 27 (7). pp. 647-665. ISSN 0143-7720

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Abstract

Purpose – This paper sets out to investigate the effect of position in the organisational hierarchy on an employee's psychological contract. Design/methodology/approach – This paper presents a statistical analysis of secondary data taken from the Working in Britain 2000 (WIB) dataset, an ESRC/CIPD funded study, to investigate the perspectives on the content of the psychological contract of different employee groups, namely managers, supervisors and “shop floor” employees. Findings – The results show that differences do emerge between different groups of employee, managers having a generally more relational contract. These differences are not, however, as large as may be expected and, for some aspects of the psychological contract, there are also considerable similarities between all the groups. Research limitations/implications – Analysis is limited by the data present in the dataset, meaning that certain aspects of the psychological contract, for example, trust, are not as fully explored as is desirable. Practical implications – The research has implications for how to appropriately manage the employment relationships of differing employee groups. Originality/value – Most existing empirical data assume that there is “a” psychological contract within an organisation and the findings from this research demonstrate that the position is, in fact, more complex.

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