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Analyze the contribution of psychological contract literature to the understanding of OCB.

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Introduction

Analyze the contribution of psychological contract literature to the understanding of OCB. The aim of this essay is to analyze the contribution of the psychological contract literature to the understanding of organizational citizenship behaviour ("OCB"). We shall argue that while the concept of psychological contract provides a useful framework for the understanding of why an employee may engage in OCB, its capacity to help managers adopt measures to foster greater levels of OCB among employees is considerably hindered as a result of the adoption by a majority of researchers of the definition proposed by Rousseau (1989, 1997) which is characterized by a focus on individuals' perceptions of promises made by organizations rather than on the actual content of these promises, as supposed they even exist. OCB has been defined by Organ (1988) as "behaviour that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and that in aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organization". The process through which an employee comes to engage in OCB has been described in the OCB literature has being strongly dependant upon individually-based perceptions of organizational procedural justice (Tepper, Lockhart and Hoobler 2001) ...read more.

Middle

Acknowledging that breach does not necessarily equate with violation (Morrison & Robinson 1997), it could be that the only situations in which employees highly involved in OCB would stop reciprocating their employer through OCB would be upon the occurrence of events of sufficient magnitude to cause both breach and violation. Support for this argument could be found in a study performed by Robinson & Rousseau (1994) that showed that employees who exhibit a strong attachment to their employers are more likely to react adversely to contract violations. The psychological contract framework therefore appears appropriate for the study of the causes explaining why an individual withdraw from OCB, although any explanations that is derived from it will generally be individual-specific, as it shall be discussed in the following paragraphs. It has been said that "the practical importance of OCBs is that they improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness by contributing to resource transformation, innovativeness and adaptability" (Organ 1988; Williams and Anderson 1991). It would appear however that the achievement of this objective is considerably impeded when the psychological contract framework is used to examine OCB. ...read more.

Conclusion

This situation, which stems mainly from the nebulosity regarding the identity of the co-contracting party to the psychological contract under Rousseau's definition (Guest 1998), thus also reduces the credibility of the conclusion achieved by Coyle-Shapiro and Kesler (2002). Assuming that it would be possible for a co-contracting party to measure an employee perception of its obligations and its degree of fulfilment, it remains that the proof of the bi-directionality of the reciprocal norms would be true only for this particular relation. Under this optic, the conclusion reached by Coyle-Shapiro and Kesler (2002) could still be of some usefulness in studying OCB aimed at other individuals inside an organization ("OCBI") but not for the study of OCB aimed directly at the organization ("OCBO"), unless a construct could be devised to integrate all the psychological contracts in which an employee is engaged. Consequently, though the psychological contract literature may contribute to explaining the reasons for which a particular employee may engage in OCB, the nature of the prevailing definition of psychological contract limits considerably its usefulness for organizations and managers searching for elements to devise strategies to sustain and increase OCB among a plurality of individuals. ...read more.

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