Case for Analysis: the University Art Museum

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doi: 10.1111/j.1748-8583.2010.00137.x

The psychological contract and the transition from office-based to home-based work Susanne Tietze, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University Sara Nadin, Sheffield University School of Management, University of Sheffield Human Resource Management Journal, Vol 21, no 3, 2011, pages 318–334

This article explores how the transition from office-based to home-based work impacts upon the psychological contracts of employees involved. Adopting a qualitative case study approach, utilising a short-term longitudinal design, the setting is a local authority which implemented a 3-month homeworking pilot scheme. Using the psychological contract as an analytical framework it is shown how the implementation of the changes impacts upon the psychological contracts not only in the workplace but also in the home. In both the arenas of work and the home, obligations are surfaced (and sometimes renegotiated) and boundaries are redrawn. The relationship with the employer becomes increasingly transactional, enabling participants to redefine the status of work in relation to their other priorities. Whilst homeworkers exhibit an increased commitment to the mode of work and become more productive for their employer, they also exhibit a more transactional orientation to work, threatening to leave if homeworking is withdrawn. We explore the methodological and theoretical implications of our findings drawing attention to the analytical potential of the psychological contract for generating more critical insights. Contact: Dr Sara Nadin, Sheffield University School of Management, University of Sheffield, 9 Mappin Street, Sheffield S1 4DT, UK. Email: s.j.nadin@sheffield.ac.uk hrmj_137 318..334

INTRODUCTION

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tilising the framework of the psychological contract, the aim of this article is to explore the changing nature of obligations characterising the relationships employees share with their employer and family members in the transition from office-based to home-based working. The organisation concerned is a local authority which implemented homeworking in its taxation department as part of its drive to introduce a series of work-life balance initiatives. As both public and private sector organisations join the trend in shifting the location of work from the office to the home, conceptual frameworks are needed which aid in exploring the impact of such transitions. In this respect, the psychological contract is an appropriate choice, with the nature of obligations characterising the employment relationship becoming particularly exposed in periods of organisational change. The conceptual framework of the psychological contract can also be extended beyond the boundaries of the workplace to explore the reciprocal obligations characterising relationships in the home. The case for using the psychological contract in this way is presented in the following section, focusing on the links between organisational change and psychological contract violation and the related distinction between relational and transactional psychological contracts. Relevant research on homeworking is integrated and linked to claims pertaining to the multiplicity of psychology contracts characterising exchange relationships both at work and in the home. Adopting a process orientation, the issues identified are then explored using qualitative interview data from the case study. Following the analysis the implications of the study are considered in relation to theory and practice. HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, VOL 21 NO 3, 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Please cite this article in press as: Tietze, S. and Nadin, S. (2011) ‘The psychological contract and the transition from office-based to home-based work’. Human Resource Management Journal 21: 3, 318–334.

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Susanne Tietze and Sara Nadin

PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTRACTS Reflecting broad trends concerned with increasing flexibility and family friendly policies, more...
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