Research Publications

The Mutuality and Reciprocity Lab is committed to producing high quality research that makes meaningful contributions to the literature on employee-employer relationships from a theoretical, methodological, and practical point of view. Below you can find our most recent publications. Enjoy the read!


Let's get cynical about this! recursive relationships between psychological contract breach and counterproductive work behavior

Griep, Y., & Vantilborgh, T. (Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 2017)

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.

Keywords: psychological contract; counterproductive work behavior; cynicism; self-esteem; recursive; time


Trajectories of job demands and control: risk for subsequent symptoms of major depression in the nationally representative Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health (SLOSH)

Åhlin, J. K., Westerlund, H., Griep, Y., Magnusson Hanson, L. L.  (International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 2017)

Depression is a global health concern. High job demands, low job control, and the combination (high strain) are associated with depression. However, few longitudinal studies have investigated changed or repeated exposure to demands and control related to depression. We investigated how trajectories of exposure to job demands and control jointly influence subsequent depression.  We included 7949 subjects from the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health, who completed questionnaires bi-annually of perceived job demands and control, and depressive symptoms from 2006 to 2014. None of them were depressed between 2006 and 2012. Univariate and joint group-based trajectory models identified groups with similar development of demands and control across 2006–2012. Logistic regression estimated the risk for symptoms of major depression in 2014 according to joint trajectory groups. The joint trajectory model included seven groups, all with fairly stable levels of demands and control over time. Subjects in the high strain and active (high demands and high control) trajectories were significantly more likely to have subsequent major depressive symptoms compared to those having low strain, controlling for demographic covariates (OR 2.15; 95% Cl 1.24–3.74 and OR 2.04; 95% CI 1.23–3.40, respectively). The associations did not remain statistically significant after adjusting for previous depressive symptoms in addition to demographic covariates. The results indicate that the levels of job demands and control were relatively unchanged across 6 years and suggest that long-term exposure to a high strain or active job may be associated with increased risk for subsequent depression.

Keywords: Depressive symptoms; Demand-control model; Job strain; Work stress; Longitudinal studies; Latent class growth analysis


Reciprocal effects of psychological contract breach on counterproductive and organizational citizenship behaviours: the role of time

Griep, Y., & Vantilborgh, T. (Journal of Vocational Behavior, 2017)

The purpose of this study was to investigate the dynamic relationship between psychological contract (PC) breach, violation feelings, and acts of counterproductive work (CWBs) and organizational citizenship (OCBs) behaviour, as well as to investigate the reverse relationship from CWB and OCB to PC breach. We tested these direct and reverse relationships by means of structural equation modelling using latent growth parameters on weekly survey data from 80 respondents for 10 consecutive weeks (516 observations). Our results revealed that an accumulation of PC breach over the course of 10 weeks was positively associated with intensifying violation feelings, which in turn was positively associated with the enactment of an increasing number of CWB-O acts over time. However, we did not find such a relationship for the enactment of OCB-O acts over time. Moreover, we found that both static and increasing numbers of OCB-O and CWB-O acts were negatively and positively related to static and accumulating perceptions of PC breach, respectively. This study challenges the static treatment of PC breach and its reactions, as well as the often assumed negative PC breach-OCB-O relationship. In addition, this study demonstrates a recursive relationship between PC breach and OCB-O and CWB-O.

Keywords: psychological contract breach; violation feelings; counterproductive work behaviour; organizational citizenship behaviour; growth parameters; structure equation model

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One Big Happy Family? Unraveling the Relationship Between Shared Perceptions of Team Psychological Contracts, Person-Team Fit and Team Performance.

Gibbard, K., Griep, Y., De Cooman, R., Hoffart, G., Onen, D., & Zareipour, H. (Frontiers in Psychology, 2017)

With the knowledge that team work is not always associated with high(er) performance, we draw from the Multi-Level Theory of Psychological Contracts, Person-Environment Fit Theory, and Optimal Distinctiveness Theory to study shared perceptions of psychological contract (PC) breach in relation to shared perceptions of complementary and supplementary fit to explain why some teams perform better than other teams. We collected three repeated survey measures in a sample of 128 respondents across 46 teams. After having made sure that we met all statistical criteria, we aggregated our focal variables to the team-level and analysed our data by means of a longitudinal three-wave autoregressive moderated-mediation model in which each relationship was one-time lag apart. We found that shared perceptions of PC breach were directly negatively related to team output and negatively related to perceived team member effectiveness through a decrease in shared perceptions of supplementary fit. However, we also demonstrated a beneficial process in that shared perceptions of PC breach were positively related to shared perceptions of complementary fit, which in turn were positively related to team output. Moreover, best team output appeared in teams that could combine high shared perceptions of complementary fit with modest to high shared perceptions of supplementary fit. Overall, our findings seem to indicate that in terms of team output there may be a bright side to perceptions of PC breach and that perceived person-team fit may play an important role in this process.

Keywords: team psychological contract breach, person-team fit, complementary fit, supplementary fit, team performance, time


the relationship between psychological contract breach and counterproductive work BEHAVIOUR in social enterprises: Do paid employees and volunteers differ?

Griep, Y., Vantilborgh, T., Jones, S. K. (Economic and Industrial Democracy, 2017)

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. 

Keywords: psychological contract breach, violation feelings, counterproductive work behaviour, volunteers, paid employees, social enterprises


Integrating psychological contracts and psychological ownership: The role of employee ideologies, organizational culture, and organizational citizenship behavior

Griep, Y., Wingate, T., & Brys, C. (Psychological Ownership: Theoretical perspectives and applications for multi-cultural contexts, 2017)

Several decades of psychological contract (PC) theorizing and research have provided us with a well-developed and well-supported framework to understand the employee-employer relationship. Most of the research has focused on the negative emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral consequences following the perception of PC breach or the perceived discrepancy between employer inducements and actual delivered inducements. In contrast, far less is known about the influence of individual differences and differences in organizational cultural values in relation to the PC. Moreover, less is known about the role of PCs in relation to the development of psychological ownership (PO). Consequently, we integrate the literature on PC and PO. By doing so, the aim of this chapter is threefold. First, we propose that differences in employee exchange and creditor ideology at the individual level and differences in cultural values at the organizational level relate differently to the formation of relational and transactional PCs. Second, we propose that these relational and transactional PCs relate differently to the emergence of PO in the workplace. Third, we propose that the development of PO relates differently to ‘good soldier’ versus ‘good actor’ organizational behaviors. In this chapter we limited ourselves to propose and discuss the effects of dispositional (i.e., creditor and exchange ideology) and cultural (i.e., individualism and collectivism) differences at the level of the individual and the organization because the PC concerns an individual’s mental schema that serves to help to understand one’s current and future exchange relationship with the employer. We end this chapter by discussing the practical implications and future avenues of the proposed conceptual model.

Keywords: psychological contract, psychological ownership, social exchange ideology, creditor ideology, cultural differences, organizational citizenship behaviors


Forget about the glass ceiling, I am stuck in a glass box: A META-ETHNOGRAPHY of work participation for persons with physical disabilities

Purc-Stephenson, Jones, S. K., & Ferguson, C. L. (Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 2017)

Finding and sustaining employment can be a challenge for persons with a physical disability (PwPD) because they may be limited in the work they can do, may require workplace accommodations, or experience discrimination. Our aim was to understand how successfully employed PwPDs find and sustain employment, and to use this information to build a conceptual model. We searched published studies on physical disability and employment from electronic databases (1980–2015) and bibliographical reviews of retrieved studies. We used meta-ethnography to synthesize the findings. We reviewed 19 studies and identified 10 themes highlighting common issues experienced by PwPDs. Using these themes, we developed a process model to illustrate the dynamic employment process PwPDs’ experience and the factors that create barriers or facilitators as they attempt to find, maintain employment, and/or advance at work. PwPDs encounter a range of barriers at different stages of their employment journey which make them feel “stuck” and “exposed” in lower-level positions with little opportunity to advance or to move laterally within an organization. This study provides a framework to help rehabilitation specialists, employers, and researchers understand what PwPDs need at each stage of their employment journey to attain more sustainable employment outcomes. 

Keywords: Employment, disabled persons, qualitative research, meta-ethnography, social stigma


Can volunteering in later life reduce the risk of dementia? A 5-Year longitudinal study among volunteering and non-volunteering retired seniors? 

Griep, Y., Magnusson Hanson, L., Vantilborgh, T., Janssens, L., Jones, S. K., & Hyde, M. (PlosOne, 2017)

In this paper we propose that voluntary work, characterized by social, physical and cognitive activity in later life is associated with fewer cognitive problems and lower dementia rates. We test these assumptions using 3-wave, self-reported, and registry data from the 2010, 2012, and 2014 Swedish National Prescribed Drug Register. We had three groups of seniors in our data: 1) no volunteering (N = 531), 2) discontinuous volunteering (N = 220), and 3) continuous volunteering (N = 250). We conducted a path analysis in Mplus to investigate the effect of voluntary work (discontinuously and continuously) on self-reported cognitive complaints and the likelihood of being prescribed an anti-dementia treatment after controlling for baseline and relevant background variables. Our results indicated that seniors, who continuously volunteered, reported a decrease in their cognitive complaints over time, whereas no such associations were found for the other groups. In addition, they were 2.44 (95%CI [1.86 ; 3.21]) and 2.46 (95%CI [1,89 ; 3.24]) times less likely to be prescribed an anti-dementia treatment in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Our results largely support the assumptions that voluntary work in later life is associated with lower self-reported cognitive complaints and a lower risk for dementia, relative to those who do not engage, or only engage episodically in voluntary work. 

Keywords: Self-reported cognitive problems; Likelihood of dementia; Volunteering in later life; Longitudinal change