Understanding Psychological Contracts at Work: book review

Understanding Psychological Contracts at Work
Authors: Neil Conway and Rob B. Briner
Price: £19.99
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 240
ISBN: 0199280657

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This book is certainly not for the faint hearted, as it takes an in-depth, vigorously referenced, academic approach. However, it is still accessible and very readable.

It explores how psychological contracts were initially conceptualised, and maps out the transition using notable theoretical studies, through to how the concept is viewed today.

Although the theory is old, the concept is still relatively under-developed. The authors give an unbiased analysis of other researchers’ work, but make clear their thoughts on the ambiguities, definition issues and disagreements.

Although little is known about the concept, the authors still manage to provide a comprehensive overview of research to enable a good understanding of the key components of what is meant by psychological contracts.

One area of notable neglect, the authors claim, is the practicalities of the psychological contract in managing the employment relationship. Although there is a general awareness, the lack of critical understanding prevents meaningful application of the concept on a daily and strategic basis.

It is, however, generally accepted that a breach of the psychological contract has serious consequences for the employer – reduced effort, absenteeism and even retaliation. This book would be helpful to anyone who manages, or has influence over people.

The overall message is that psychological contract research is very much in its infancy. By the end, you may be inspired to make a contribution by embarking on your own research, and the book provides ample advice and practical frameworks to help you do this.

Useful? Five out of five stars
Well-written? Five out of five stars
Practical? Five out of five stars
Inspirational? Five out of five stars
Value for money? Five out of five stars
Overall? Five out of five stars

Reviewed by Alison Norris, HR consultancy manager, MHL Support

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