Research on the Psychological Contract: A Systematic Literature Review




psychological contract, public organisations, public sector, systematical literature review


Objective: The “psychological contract” used in the public sector is a relatively new research problem. The purpose of this article is to identify research trends and future directions for psychological contract research in the public sector.

Research Design & Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted of 35 full-text peer-
-reviewed research articles retrieved from Ebsco, Emelard, Proquest, Scopus, and Web of Science databases.

Findings: The state of knowledge and directions for future research on psychological contracting in the public sector were identified using the analysis of the 35 articles.

Implications / Recommendations: Past research on the psychological contract has focused on organisational commitment, organisational identification, trait- and assessment-oriented measurement of organisations, the dichotomous nature of the psychological contract, the psychological contract as a multifocal construct, the fact that the content of the psychological contract varies across cultures and societies, and the psychological contract versus affective organisational commitment. Future research could focus on examining the effects of the contract on the five major personality traits, the psychological contract in firefighting units, examining the effects of the psychological contracts on organisational identification, or understanding identification and de-identification with the organisation. This may prove useful for managers trying to predict whether employees will be willing to organise.

Contribution: An analysis is the first of its kind of the available literature related to the psychological contract in public organisations.


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