Psychological Contracting Process Model: Towards A Unifying Theory Of Psychological Contract
In contemporary literature of the psychological contract construct, there are numerous operational definitions adapted by researchers with little or no explicit consideration of other competing views on the subject (Del Campo, 2007). This paper aims to reconcile the divergent usage of the construct terminologies by developing in detail the theoretical process model for psychological contracting. The basic question addressed in this paper is the, what is psychological contract. Taking the term contract generally to be the cognate of the psychological contract construct, then hypothetically the term is an experience which has sequential process steps in its actualization. These steps constitute a model that the psychological contracting action follows. The model is a dyadic relationship which captures the realistic nature of a contractual relationship hence an epistemic departure from the present unilateral tract adapted by researchers. The process model has been developed through articulated understanding of other concepts and the knowledge of their blending (Bruner, 1960) by considering the antecedent of psychological contract namely linguistic theory of performative speech act or communicative action and its social psychological implication in context of contractual relationship in which a promise is taken as a contract, based on axiom of moral obligation to perform other than indemnified by the law. The process model of psychological contracting has three essential imperatives that ontologically are necessary conditions for its existence. These are psychological contract formation/effort imperative (i.e. input layer comprising of communicative action), instrumentation/activation imperative (i.e. processing elements layer comprising of promissory obligations & expectations) and psychological contract state (output layer). The three imperatives constitute the priori of the psychological contract and the posteriori constitutes of the two intertwined domains presented as outcome and impact of the contract state, which manifests as affections and subsequent behaviors of the dyads. The two intertwined domains represent contract valence as result of the dyads' expectations inconsistency/dissonance or consistency/consonance as result of the contract state. The basic overarching goal of promise making is primarily building trust and resultant loyalty which secondarily encapsulates cooperative, coordination and commitment, in the dyadic relationship caused by the contextual consequence of psychological contract outcome's affections and impact's behaviors (i.e. at the posteriori phase of the psychological contract). The process model signifies a unifying theory of psychological contract which is an epistemic bridging of the knowledge gap that has yielded to numerous contemporary definitions of the construct.
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