Age, work experience, and the psychological contract

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Abstract

The purpose of the current paper is to examine the ways in which age and work experience shape how individuals experience psychological contract breaches. We first introduce the concepts of contract malleability (the degree to which individuals can tolerate deviations from contract expectations) and contract replicability (the degree to which individuals believe that their psychological contracts can be replicated elsewhere). Next, we discuss the variety of reasons why contract malleability and replicability become greater with age and work experience and how contract malleability and replicability may temper negative reactions to psychological contract breaches. We also address the different ways contract malleability and replicability mediate the relationships between age and work experience, on one hand, and exit, voice, loyalty, and neglect behaviors on the other. We consider the moderating effects of age similarity and dissimilarity here as well. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for future research designs and for managing older and more experienced workers. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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