Triggers of Transition: Psychological Recontracting in Organizational Change

Hermien Wiechers, Xander Lub, Steven ten Have

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Psychological contracts are dynamic. This paper contributes to the understanding of psychological contract dynamics in relation to the impact of organizational changes, by testing a dynamic temporal framework, which consequently highlights the role of trigger events, the appraisal process, goal- setting and coping on the psychological contract. In total 23 semi-structured interviews following Critical Incident Technique were carried out to in three department at three Universities of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Focusing empirically on evolving phenomena enables the exploration of temporal progressions of activities as elements of explanation and understanding. The findings highlight the process nature of psychological contracts in organizational change and, in particular the temporal, intra- individual dynamic process of recontracting. This paper contributes to the literature of breach by allowing better understanding of the source of breach by adding triggers to the concept. Although the depth and width of disruptions strongly influences the rest of the change process, limited attention has thus far been paid to the source of the dynamics, the nature of the trigger, how this affects employees’ psychological contracts and what determines their possible impact. Although the data are very rich, the limited sample size limits generalizability. Further research should focus on replicating results in other settings and testing the model in quantitative longitudinal as well as experimental setups. The proposed framework is of value to practitioners involved in large scale reorganizations by developing a better and deeper understanding of employees’ responses and by identifying possible strategies to facilitate organizational change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameAcademy of Management Proceedings
PublisherAcademy of Management
ISSN (Print)0065-0668


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