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The employment relationship in the U.K. public sector: a psychological contract perspective

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The management of public servants has assumed increasing importance as public service organizations are confronted with a rise in the demand for high quality services in the context of limited resources. Much of the research on the treatment of public servants has focused on the notion of public service motivation and whether the motives of public servants differ from those of private sector employees. However, the organization’s need to harness positive employee attitudes and behaviors as a means of coping with the pressures on public service delivery encourages a focus on the factors influencing these attitudes and behaviors within the sector. We address this issue by drawing upon a psychological contract framework, which captures employee perceptions of the reciprocal exchange between him/her and his/her employer. This study investigates the relationship between the psychological contract and two outcomes: organizational commitment and organizational citizenship behavior using survey responses from five thousand seven hundred and nine employees. The results support the underlying proposition that public sector employees reciprocate the treatment they receive from their employer. Consequently, we argue that the psychological contract framework has some value in enhancing our understanding of public servant attitudes and behavior. The implications of our findings for the management of public servants are discussed. We suggest that future research integrate individual predispositions and situational factors to provide a more comprehensive understanding of public servants’ attitudes and behavior.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/832/1/JPART_2003.pdf

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