Employees often draw meaning from personal experiences and contributions in their work, particularly when engaging in organizational activities that align with their personal identity or values. However, recent empirical findings have demonstrated how meaningful work can also have a negative effect on employee’s well-being as employees feel so invested in their work, they push themselves beyond their limits resulting in strain and susceptibility to burnout. We develop a framework to understand this “double edged” role of meaningful work by drawing from ideological psychological contracts (iPC), which are characterized by employees and their employer who are working to contribute to a shared ideology or set of values. Limited iPC research has demonstrated employees may actually work harder in response to an iPC breach. In light of these counterintuitive findings, we propose the following conceptual model to theoretically connect our understanding of iPCs, perceptions of breach, increases in work effort, and the potential “dark side” of repeated occurrences of iPC breach. We argue that time plays a central role in the unfolding process of employees’ reactions to iPC breach over time. Further, we propose how perceptions of iPC breach relate to strain and, eventually, burnout. This model contributes to our understanding of the role of time in iPC development and maintenance, expands our exploration of ideology in the PC literature, and provides a framework to understanding why certain occupations are more susceptible to instances of strain and burnout. This framework has the potential to guide future employment interventions in ideology-infused organizations to help mitigate negative employee outcomes.
Scholars agree that counterproductive work behavior (CWB) is instigated by psychological contract breach and violation feelings. In this paper, we focus on the mediating role of violation feelings (mixture of negative emotions) in the relationship between psychological contract breach and CWB, and assess whether volunteers and paid employees experience a similar chain of events. We used Mplus 7 to estimate a moderated mediation model with bootstrapping. The results indicated that both paid employees and volunteers (1) experiencing feelings of violation when perceiving psychological contract breach, and (2) engage in CWB targeted to the organization (CWB-O) when experiencing feelings of violation. However, these relationships were not significantly different when comparing paid employees and volunteers. We hence conclude that a similar chain of cognitions and emotions explains why volunteers and paid employees engage in CWB-O. By unraveling this sequence, we unveil possibilities for targeting interventions.
Although counterproductive work behavior toward the organization (CWB-O) or supervisors (CWB-S) is commonly treated as a reaction to psychological contract breach (PCB), we propose that the PCB-CWB relationship is recursive and that CWB may increase the likelihood to perceive PCB through its effects on self-esteem and subsequently on organizational cynicism. By estimating a 2-level time-lagged mediation model on daily data from 103 US employees (904 observations), we found evidence for this hypothesized chain of events. These findings demonstrate that PCB and CWB happen with reference to past perceptions of PCB and/or CWB and future anticipations of PCB and/or CWB. We discuss suggestions for future research and novel practical implications in preventing further escalation.
A good understanding of the dynamics of psychological contract violation requires theories, research methods and statistical models that explicitly recognize that violation feelings follow from an event that violates one's acceptance limits, after which interpretative processes are set into motion, determining the intensity of these violation feelings. Whereas theories—in the form of the dynamic model of the psychological contract—and research methods—in the form of daily diary research and experience sampling research—are available by now, the statistical tools to model such a two-stage process are still lacking. The aim of the present paper is to fill this gap in the literature by introducing two statistical models—the Zero-Inflated model and the Hurdle model—that closely mimic the theoretical process underlying the elicitation violation feelings via two model components: a binary distribution that models whether violation has occurred or not, and a count distribution that models how severe the negative impact is. Moreover, covariates can be included for both model components separately, which yields insight into their unique and shared antecedents. By doing this, the present paper offers a methodological-substantive synergy, showing how sophisticated methodology can be used to examine an important substantive issue.