The Implications of Market-Based Versus Supportive Idiosyncratic Deal Pathways

Catherine Mackintosh*, Aoife M. McDermott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article contributes to the idiosyncratic deals (i-deals) literature by explicating and theorizing market-based and supportive i-deal pathways. In so doing, it enhances understanding of how i-deals are negotiated, addresses gaps in theoretical understanding about how outcomes emerge and reconciles divergent narratives regarding the availability of i-deals to stars or a broader pool of employees. To achieve this, the study explores the inputs, process, and outcomes of flexibility and financial i-deal creation using a qualitative approach. It addresses a deficit in multi-stakeholder i-deals research, drawing on 42 semi-structured interviews with employees, line managers and HR representatives in a financial service and a construction company. Findings detail how market-based i-deals are premised on economic exchange. They respond to employer needs to secure star performers, while employee needs may be flexibility or financially focused. The negotiation of market-based i-deals is distributive, and their creation is perceived by employees as special treatment to which they are entitled, leading to purely functional benefits for organizations (e.g., recruitment/retention). In contrast, supportive i-deals are relational, responding to employee needs for flexibility and employer needs to build high-quality employment relationships. Their negotiation is integrative. Perceived by employees as a reflection of being valued, supportive i-deals lead to broader reciprocation. Researchers and practitioners should consider the implications of these pathways. In particular, the article emphasizes the broad benefits of supportive i-deals but serves to manage expectations regarding the potential limitations of market-based i-deals, that may lead to functional benefits (e.g., recruitment/retention) but not positive attitudes and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-155
Number of pages31
JournalGroup and Organization Management
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • ex-ante
  • ex-post
  • financial i-deal
  • flexibility i-deal
  • idiosyncratic deal pathways
  • market-based
  • supportive


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