Post-Merger Psychological Contracts: Exploring a “Multiple Foci” Conceptualization

Student Co-author

CGU Graduate

Document Type



Behavioral and Organizational Sciences (CGU)

Publication Date



Organization Development | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Purpose – Previous research on psychological contracts has assumed that managers play a unidimensional role as either a contractual agent or an employee of the organization. These assumptions are examined in light of a recent article advocating a “multiple foci” conceptualization of psychological contracts.

Design/methodology/approach – As psychological contracts become increasingly salient in times of rapid change, qualitative data from 16 nurse managers in a post-merger hospital consolidation were examined.

Findings – Results indicate that managers have a bi-directional obligation with both the organization and their subordinates. Specifically, managers have strong upward contracts with top management with regard to material support, resources, and strategic communication. Manager-to-subordinate contracts, on the other hand, reflect a greater emphasis on the areas of employee involvement and emotional support.

Practical implications – These findings challenge researchers and practitioners to explicitly consider a multiple foci conceptualization of psychological contracts, particularly in the context of organizational change. In practice, this means that one must dedicate more attention to uncovering the constituents with whom managers hold psychological contracts, as well as how managers prioritize their multiple contracts within the organization.

Originality/value – Given the conflictual role managers often face in a post-merger environment, it may be increasingly difficult to understand managerial contracts using traditional approaches. Although exploratory, this study provides the first empirical support for the above recent argument, and suggests that taking into account the multifaceted content and structure of managerial contracts may play a critical role in successful change initiatives.

Rights Information

© 2005 Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.