Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

The employment relationship in the U.K. public sector: a psychological contract perspective

Coyle-Shapiro, Jacqueline A-M. and Kessler, Ian (2003) The employment relationship in the U.K. public sector: a psychological contract perspective. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 13 (2). pp. 213-230. ISSN 1053-1858

Download (265kB) | Preview
Identification Number: 10.1093/jopart/mug018


The management of public servants has assumed increasing importance as public service organizations are confronted with a rise in the demand for high quality services in the context of limited resources. Much of the research on the treatment of public servants has focused on the notion of public service motivation and whether the motives of public servants differ from those of private sector employees. However, the organization’s need to harness positive employee attitudes and behaviors as a means of coping with the pressures on public service delivery encourages a focus on the factors influencing these attitudes and behaviors within the sector. We address this issue by drawing upon a psychological contract framework, which captures employee perceptions of the reciprocal exchange between him/her and his/her employer. This study investigates the relationship between the psychological contract and two outcomes: organizational commitment and organizational citizenship behavior using survey responses from five thousand seven hundred and nine employees. The results support the underlying proposition that public sector employees reciprocate the treatment they receive from their employer. Consequently, we argue that the psychological contract framework has some value in enhancing our understanding of public servant attitudes and behavior. The implications of our findings for the management of public servants are discussed. We suggest that future research integrate individual predispositions and situational factors to provide a more comprehensive understanding of public servants’ attitudes and behavior.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2003 Public Management Research Association. This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version The Employment Relationship in the U.K. Public Sector: A Psychological Contract Perspective, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 13:213-230 (2003) is available online at LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL (<>) of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2006
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 02:38

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics