Team psychological contracts: Effects of gender and social comparison orientation

Bonnie S. O’Neill, Martin D. Hassell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the psychological contract (PC) perceptions of college students is crucial for attracting and retaining them as early-career employees. We explore how gender and social comparison orientation (SCO) serve as antecedents and moderators of PC breach. Potential PC obligations were examined across 34 teams of full-time business students. Moderated relationships between SCO and gender were examined relative to PC development, breach, and commitment via a survey following a semester-long team project. Results showed that gender significantly influenced obligation perceptions, with females possessing stronger obligations of their team. Positive relationships existed between SCO and the strength of reported obligations and with breach perceptions. Breach was negatively related to affective commitment to the team. Gender moderated several relationships, with females generally showing stronger, significant associations, consistent with relational PC expectations (Adams et al., 2014). Given the rise of the boundaryless career (Kost et al., 2020), results enhance our understanding of implicit obligations college students hold in applied learning projects that further career-readiness. Results suggest that professors and career services staff can reduce the gap between students’ perceptions of their soft skills and employer expectations (Stewart et al., 2016). This study also facilitates our understanding of factors influencing team commitment, composition and perceived obligations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalIndustry and Higher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Psychological contracts
  • gender
  • social comparison orientation
  • teams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Education


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