The impact of the academic psychological contract on job performance and satisfaction

Tookey, Max (2013) The impact of the academic psychological contract on job performance and satisfaction. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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What is known as the psychological contract is the ‘promises and the nature of relationships that exists between employee and employer’ (Schein, 1978). While this concept has been researched at some depth with the study of organisational careers, a paucity of research exists in terms of its application to the university environment, with very few studies identifying what the factors of an “academic psychological contract” could be (Krivokapic-Skoko & O’Neill ,2008; Shen, 2010). This is surprising as Taylor’s Making Sense of Academic Life (1999) evaluates how career aspirations and identities of academics have been shaped by the transactional character of work in a higher education environment – where areas such as work skills and individual ability have been recognised as the determinants for career success.
To address this paucity in work in this area, this study examines the existence of a psychological contract that is unique to the university environment, drawing upon a sample of 337 academic staff employed in three traditional and three new universities in the United Kingdom – utilising an self-administrated questionnaire that takes the perspective of the academic employee, incorporating items that measure an employee’s expectations from their employers. Consequently, a conceptual model has been developed which captures how relationships between a number of areas (that affect academic practice), define and influence career related behaviours in academia, and impact (research-based) performance and job satisfaction. The factors that characterise this model consist of: (i) institutional expectations; (ii) networking; (iii) commitment; (iv) the type of university an academic work’s in (i.e. a Pre 1992/Post 1992 institution); (v) academic responsibilities; (vi) emotions; (vii) (research-based) performance; (viii) competence; (ix) psychological contract breach; (x) future career expectations and (xi) job satisfaction. Thirteen hypotheses which have been formulated which are reflective of the character of relationships between these factors, and some interesting findings have been revealed, using multiple regression procedures. These include positive relationships between an academic’s expectations, networking behaviours, and academic responsibilities with (research-based) performance – while the type of university an academic employee works in has no impact on performance. Furthermore, this research also found that academic competencies have no relationship with job satisfaction and that psychological contract breach has a negative relationship to job satisfaction.
By moving away from orthodox research in this area (which examines psychological contracts according to a transactional/relational continuum), this study builds upon an exploratory framework and is unique for examining the factorability of an academic psychological contract which characterises both the “pre-1992” and the “post-1992” sectors of the British higher education market.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > Norwich Business School
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2014 10:29
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2019 00:38


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