The antecedent roles of personal constructs and culture in the construing of psychological contracts by staff in a Czech financial services company
Boddy, Ronald Leslie
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The modern conceptualisation of the psychological contract recognises a tacit mental representation or schema, spanning all aspects of an employee’s perception of work. Reciprocity is a normative force in contract functioning. For over 500 years, the Czech Republic was subject to the rule of other nations. The failed totalitarianism of the most recent Soviet hegemony precipitated the Velvet Revolution and Czech adoption of the market economy in 1989. Some commentators have argued that unproductive work attitudes remain as a legacy of the command system. Following the phenomenological paradigm and constructivist epistemology, the research uses concepts from Personal Construct Psychology to compare the work constructs of Czech and non-Czech staff within the Czech and UK subsidiaries of the same company, examining antecedent effects of culture and individual experiences on psychological contract formation and development. The findings show that the two nationalities construe work along broadly similar lines, prioritizing its social qualities. Czech constructs seem to be simpler than those of non- Czechs, apparently lacking the value placed on personal ambition and achievement by the comparator group. Czechs do, however, appear to value independence much more than non-Czechs, with young Czechs also seemingly expecting social justice and the right to self-determination. The findings make a strong case for suggesting that these values have their origins in Czech culture and history, implying that both influence the work dispositions of Czechs and may plausibly be psychological contract antecedents. The conclusions call for a wider conceptualisation of the psychological contract, specifically in its anticipatory (pre-work) form, and suggest that existing theory might benefit from giving greater consideration and prominence to the social properties of work. Suggestions for further research and business applications are included.