Information seeking about the psychological contract: The impact on newcomers’ evaluations of their employment relationship
A. DE VOS
Both socialization and psychological contract literature demonstrate that the first months of employment are critical for the development of a positive psychological contract with organizational newcomers (e.g. Bauer et al., 1994; Robinson et al., 1994; Thomas & Anderson, 1998). For this reason, it is the objective of this study to explicate newcomers’ psychological contract perceptions and evaluations during the socialization process, using information seeking as the central antecedent variable. Based upon socialization and psychological contract literature, hypotheses are formulated that address the relationship between newcomer information seeking and (1) changes in newcomers’ perceptions of promises exchanged with their employer, and (2) newcomers’ evaluations of their employment relationship one year after entry. To test our hypotheses, a four-wave longitudinal survey among 333 newcomers has been conducted, covering the first year of their new employment relationship. These newcomers, all white-collar level, belonged to six large organizations located in Belgium. Data collections took place at four moments: (T1) at entry, (T2) three months after entry, (T3) six months after entry, and (T4) one year after entry. Results suggest that during the socialization process newcomers change their perceptions of promises but that, contrary to our expectations, these changes are not related to their information-seeking behaviors. On the other hand, and in line with our hypotheses, the frequency of contract-related information seeking during the socialization process significantly affects newcomers’ evaluations of their employment relationship one year after entry. Newcomers who engage more frequently in information seeking make up a more positive evaluation of psychological contract fulfillment and they are also more satisfied with their employment relationship in general. Our findings are discussed in view of the available literature on newcomer socialization and psychological contract development and implications for theories on psychological contract development are drawn.
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