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Professional Ideology and the Psychological Contract: an Analysis of the Psychological Contracts of Registered Nurses, Research Scientists and Primary School Teachers Employed in Public Sector Organisations.

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O'Donohue, W (2007) Professional Ideology and the Psychological Contract: an Analysis of the Psychological Contracts of Registered Nurses, Research Scientists and Primary School Teachers Employed in Public Sector Organisations. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The increasingly complex world of work has prompted many individuals to
search for new meaning and purpose in their work. For many employed
professionals, meaning and purpose are also realised through identification with
their profession and commitment to its distinctive ideology of values and beliefs
about work and organizations. Published research into the psychological contract
between the employee and the organization has given limited consideration to the
role that occupational ideologies play in psychological contracts. This study
addresses that gap in the literature.
The study has two broad themes: the relationship between the occupational
ideologies of employed professionals and their psychological contracts, and
the importance of that relationship for conceptualisation of the
psychological contract. Using a qualitative research design, the study
explores the perceptions of a sample of registered nurses, research scientists
and primary teachers with regard to their occupational ideologies and the
terms of their psychological contracts.
The research findings show that study participants in each sample group
perceived their contributions to the organization to include professional
competence, a client focus, and a service orientation, that is, delivery on core
elements in their occupational ideologies. Study participants also perceived the
provision of credible commitments of support as being part of the contribution by
their organizations under the psychological contract. In regard to perceived
failure by the organization to provide this support, the research findings show
clear impacts on the individual in terms of commitment and job performance. In
addition, the findings reveal nuances and a level of complexity in attitudinal and
behavioural responses by the individual that have not hitherto been revealed in
psychological contract research.
The study discusses the relevance of the research findings for the bidimensional
(transactional/economic and relational/socio-emotional) interpretative framework
that currently underpins the concept of the psychological contract. It supports
calls in the literature for a broadening of this framework to include an ideological
dimension. The study also discusses the multiplicity and interdependency of
exchange that professional employees can engage in as a consequence of enacting
their occupational ideologies through their psychological contract. It calls into
question the emphasis on a single dyadic relationship with the organization that
underpins the predominant conceptual approach used in much of the work to date
on the psychological contract.
Finally, a number of possible future research directions are outlined. The study
highlights the need for managers to understand the nature of the occupational
ideologies operating within their organization, and how, in the case of
professional employees, these ideologies can drive perceptions about what they
contribute to the organization and what the organization is expected to contribute
in return.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: psychological contract, work ideology, professions, commitment, employment relationship, nursing, teaching, scientific research.
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2008 00:08
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
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