Investigating power, interdependence and struggle in the employment relationship: a psychological contract perspective

Ali, Haris (2015) Investigating power, interdependence and struggle in the employment relationship: a psychological contract perspective. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis explores the implications of power in relation to the psychological contract. The majority of the psychological contract literature, because of its underpinning assumptions of mutuality and reciprocity, largely downplays the dynamics of power in the employment relationship. The key objective of the current study therefore is to make further empirical and theoretical developments in relation to the psychological contract by exploring these power dynamics in the relationship between employees and employer. Concerning power, the complex interdependencies and the associated workplace struggles characterizing the employment relationship between employees and the different representatives of the organization are investigated.

From an empirical perspective, the research contributes in a twofold manner as the results not only highlight the complex interdependencies and the workplace struggles in the employment relationship but also offer new knowledge about work and management in Pakistan. This context of employment relations based on underlying power dynamics that are embedded into the complex and interdependent relationships between employees and organizational representatives is globally significant in terms of workplace research, yet generally neglected in the relevant studies.

The current study has a qualitative orientation and follows a critical realist research philosophy. Using data collected from 43 interviewees in three call centre organizations, the research additionally makes a theoretical contribution to the psychological contract from the perspectives of mutuality, reciprocity and agency. The results illustrate that, in comparison to mutuality and reciprocity, interdependence and negotiation play a critical role in the psychological contracts of employees. Largely acknowledging the implications of power dynamics, these concepts highlight that employees, based on their perceptions of interdependence (rather than mutuality) in the employment relationships, tend to focus primarily on negotiation (rather than reciprocation) in their psychological contracts with employers.

Concerning agency, different classifications of human agents are highlighted (i.e. primary agents, secondary agents, multiple agents, incumbent agents). The current research extends the concept of agency beyond the boundary of human agents into the domain of the electronic agents of the organization. The results highlight that it is not only the perceived capability to reward or punish but also the perceived tendency to actively use that capability which significantly influences employees’ assumptions to consider particular organizational members as the agents of the organization. From the viewpoint of relational interdependence in the employment relationship, the efforts made by employees to decrease their dependence on employers and increase the employer’s dependence on them are illustrated. The research findings demonstrate that these efforts are largely motivated by the employees’ objective of promoting their bargaining power in employment relationship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Psychological contract, power, interdependence, struggle, employment relationship.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Supervisor's Name: Pate, Dr. Judy
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Haris Ali HA Ali
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6999
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2016 16:00
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2019 14:59

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