Psychological Contract Breach and Destructive Voice: The Mediating Effect of Relative Deprivation and Moderating Effect of Leader Emotional Support


Psychological contract breach (PCB) and its consequences have mainly been studied from a social exchange perspective or an affective events perspective. In this study, we use a relative deprivation perspective to capture the experience of loss following PCB and its implications on employees’ reactions. Drawing from relative deprivation theory, we propose that perceived PCB can elicit the feeling of relative deprivation, which, in turn, induces employee destructive voice. We also suggest that higher levels of supervisor emotional support can help mitigate the positive association of PCB with the feeling of relative deprivation, and thus destructive voice. We conducted three studies to test our theory. In Study 1, we obtained data from 168 subordinate–supervisor pairs in China. Using a three-wave time-lagged design, we tested and found the mediating effect of relative deprivation on the relationship between PCB and destructive voice. In Study 2, we obtained data from 293 subordinate–supervisor pairs in China. Using the same design, we replicated the findings in Study 1 and found support for the moderating effect of supervisor emotional support. In Study 3, we used self-report data of 170 participants from the United States over three waves. We controlled for alternative mediating variables and prior measures of the focal variables to gauge the effect of time. The results supported our proposed moderated mediation model. Altogether, our findings supported the applicability of relative deprivation theory to understand PCB and its consequences, offering a new lens to study PCB.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Work & Organisational Psychology
Additional Information: © 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc. This accepted manuscript version is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Uncontrolled Keywords: Destructive voice,Psychological contract breach,Relative deprivation theory,Supervisor emotional support,Education,Applied Psychology,Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management,Life-span and Life-course Studies
Publication ISSN: 1095-9084
Last Modified: 20 May 2024 07:39
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2022 15:49
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Related URLs: https://www.sci ... 0318?via%3Dihub (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2022-06
Published Online Date: 2022-04-06
Accepted Date: 2022-04-03
Authors: Lin, Xiaoshuang (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-7612-0063)
Wu, Chia-huei
Dong, Yuntao
Chen, George Zhen Xiong
Wei, Wu
Duan, Jinyun

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