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.
Bibliographical note© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc. This accepted manuscript version is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
- Destructive voice
- Psychological contract breach
- Relative deprivation theory
- Supervisor emotional support