The relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance: The moderating role of hostile attributional style

The relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance: The moderating role of hostile attributional style

Journal of Vocational Behavior 73 (2008) 426–433 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Journal of Vocational Behavior journal homepage: www.else...

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Journal of Vocational Behavior 73 (2008) 426–433

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Vocational Behavior journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jvb

The relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance: The moderating role of hostile attributional style Su-Fen Chiu a,*, Jei-Chen Peng b a b

Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, 43, Section 4, Keelung Road, Taipei 106, Taiwan Department of International Trade, Lan Yang Institute of Technology, 79, Fushin Road, Touchen, Yilan 261, Taiwan

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history: Received 20 February 2008 Available online 14 August 2008

Keywords: Psychological contract breach Employee deviance Attributional style

a b s t r a c t This study investigated the main effects and the interaction effects of psychological contract breach and hostile attributional style on employee deviance (i.e., interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance). Data were collected from 233 employees and their supervisors in eight electronic companies in Taiwan. Results demonstrate that psychological contract breach related positively to both interpersonal and organizational deviance. Psychological contract breach did not have a stronger effect on organizational deviance than on interpersonal deviance. Hostile attributional style had interactive effects on the relationships between psychological contract breach and the two forms of employee deviance. Specifically, the higher the hostile attributional style, the stronger the positive relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance. This study contributes to the existing literature on reactions to psychological contract breach. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of the study results and future research directions. Ó 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Facing intensity of industrial competition and of organizational downsizing, it is not uncommon for employees to experience constant changes in employment relationships and employment contracts. Indeed, these changes often result in situations where employees perceive psychological contract breach by their employers (Chen, Tsui, & Zhong, 2008; Zhao, Wayne, Glibkowski, & Bravo, 2007). Defined by Rousseau (1989), the psychological contract is a set of beliefs about the reciprocal obligations between employees and their employer (or the organization). Psychological contract breach can be defined as an individual’s perception that another party has failed to fulfill his, her, or its promised obligations of the psychological contract (Rousseau, 1989). In the present study, we define psychological contract breach from employees’ perspectives so that it refers to the degree of an employee’s perception of his or her employer’s failure to fulfill the promised obligations. Much research has demonstrated that psychological contract breach may lead to employees’ negative cognitive or emotional reactions (e.g., dissatisfaction, frustration, anxiety, and anger), which in turn may trigger employees’ display of negative job behaviors, such as discretionary absenteeism (Deery, Iverson, & Walsh, 2006), actual turnover (Robinson, 1996), and job neglect (Lo & Aryee, 2003; Turnley & Feldman, 1999). These negative job behaviors may give rise to enormous costs for the organizations, such as loss of working days due to absenteeism, loss of training investment associated with organizational leavers, and increasing costs of recruiting, selecting and training new hires. To date, much of the literature examining the effect of psychological contract breach on negative job behaviors has focused on employee withdrawal behaviors, such as absenteeism, turnover and job neglect. However, scant research focuses on employee deviant behavior. Employee deviant behavior (or employee deviance) can be defined as an employee’s volun* Corresponding author. Fax: +886 2 27376744. E-mail address: [email protected] (S.-F. Chiu). 0001-8791/$ - see front matter Ó 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2008.08.006

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tary behavior that violates organizational norms and that harms organizational functioning and organizational members’ benefits (Robinson & Bennett, 1995, p. 556). Employee deviance constitutes a category of employees’ negative voluntary job behaviors, which has broader coverage than that of employee withdrawal behaviors (Robinson & Bennett, 1995). Past research has demonstrated that employee deviance has imposed enormous costs on organizational performance and productivity (e.g., Bennett & Robinson, 2000). Therefore, it is important to understand employees’ reactions to psychological contract breach in order to prevent the occurrence of employee deviance. To this end, this study investigates the effects of psychological contract breach on employee deviance. Furthermore, on the basis of targets of behavior, Bennett and Robinson (2000) classified employee deviance into two forms: interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance. Psychological contract breach may have different effects on the two forms of employee deviance. As suggested by Berry, Ones, and Sackett (2007), Hershcovis et al. (2007), Lee and Allen (2002), Robinson and Bennett (1995), the two forms of employee deviance may differ from each other according to their respective antecedents. Individual difference factors may be more related to interpersonal deviance, whereas organizational (or contextual) factors may be more related to organizational deviance. Having deep roots in an individual’s perception of organizational conditions, psychological contract breach might have a greater effect on employee organizational deviance than on employee interpersonal deviance. This study answers the calls by Robinson and Bennett (1995) and others to examine the effects of psychological contract breach on the two different forms of employee deviance. Moreover, individuals may react differently to psychological contract breach. The effect of psychological contract breach on employee deviance might depend on individual characteristics (e.g., personality). Adopting the interactionist perspective, scholars have increasingly emphasized the interactive effects of individual factors (e.g., self control, negative affectivity, attributional style) and organizational factors (e.g., organizational justice, abusive supervision) on employee deviance (Chen et al., 2008; Douglas & Martinko, 2001; Hershcovis et al., 2007). In line with this research stream, although research has investigated the moderating effects of cognitive variables (e.g., the likelihood of punishment and attractive employment alternatives) on the relationship between psychological contract breach and employee withdrawal behavior (Turnley & Feldman, 1999), little attention has been given to the importance of personality variables (e.g., hostile attributional style). Hostile attributional style can be conceptualized as a cognitive personality (or trait) variable (Peterson, 1991, p. 1), and can be defined as an individual’s general tendency to attribute negative organizational outcomes to external, stable, employer-intentional, and employer-controllable causes (Douglas & Martinko, 2001). It is likely that employees with hostile attributional style may engage in employee deviance when they experience psychological contract breach. An investigation of the role of hostile attributional style in predicting employee deviance might be useful in understanding why, in a perceived situation of psychological contract breach, individuals differ from one another regarding their display of deviant behaviors. Therefore, this study intends to clarify the moderating role of hostile attributional style in the relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance. Another gap in the relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance has arisen because researchers have based their research settings on individualistic cultural samples (e.g., US) (Robinson, 1996; Turnley & Feldman, 1999) and have conducted relatively little research from on nations with collectivistic cultures (e.g., China) (Chen et al., 2008; Lo & Aryee, 2003). It is imperative that more scholars explore the transportability of Western organizational concepts and practices to other cultural contexts (Tsui, Nifadkar, & Ou, 2007). Furthermore, as Thomas, Au, and Ravlin (2003) proposed, cultural variations may exist in responses to psychological contract breach and violations. Therefore, the present study was conducted in a collectivist cultural context (i.e., Taiwan) to validate the generalizability of Western findings in relation to Taiwan-Chinese findings (Hofstede, 1997). 1. Theory and Hypotheses 1.1. Psychological contract breach and employee deviance One theoretical basis for explaining positive associations between psychological contract breach and employee deviance is the negative norm of reciprocity. A negative norm of reciprocity represents an individual’s act of harming people or organizations that, according to the individual, have wronged the individual in social exchange processes (Gouldner, 1960; UhlBien & Maslyn, 2003). According to Levinson (1965), reciprocity is a process of fulfilling mutual expectations and satisfying mutual needs in employee-organization relationships. Therefore, reciprocity can be conceptualized also as a process of carrying out the psychological contract between an individual and his or her organization. The existence of reciprocity, including positive and negative reciprocity, functions to maintain balance in social systems (e.g., an organization). From the negative reciprocity perspective, when an employee perceives psychological contract breach (i.e., an employer’s failure to fulfill his or her promised obligations), the employee may perceive these apparent broken promises as wrongdoings of his or her employer. Whenever an employer makes promises to an employee in exchange for the employee’s contributions in an employment relationship, the employer’s act of breaking a promise (i.e., psychological contract breach) limits or negates the possibility that the employee’s desired outcomes and benefits will become realities. As a consequence, the perceived broken promises may lead the employee to feel unfair, dissatisfied, or unbalanced with the employment relationship and to experience cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957; Ho, Weingart, & Rousseau, 2004). To restore equity and to reduce this cognitive dissonance in the relationship, the employee is likely to reduce his or her positive behaviors (e.g.,

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organizational citizenship behavior), even displaying negative behaviors (e.g., employee deviance) as a form of revenge (or exchange) to achieve cognitive balance between him or her and the employer (Uhl-Bien & Maslyn, 2003). Moreover, the effect of psychological contract breach on employee deviance can be better understood through the potential mechanisms of two employee psychological responses—cognitive (or judgmental) evaluations (e.g., dissatisfaction, unmet expectations) and emotional (or affective) reactions (e.g., frustration, mistrust) (e.g., Ho et al., 2004; Lo & Aryee, 2003; Zhao et al., 2007). On the one hand, an employee may perceive psychological contract breach as a form of distributive inequity or imbalance in an employee-organization relationship (Robinson, 1996). Therefore, the employee may make negative cognitive evaluations regarding the organization and may, in turn, reciprocate with retaliatory actions (i.e., deviant behaviors) to regain an equitable balance with or to punish the organization. On the other hand, psychological contract breach may elicit employees’ negative emotional reactions to the organization, which in turn trigger negative behavioral outcomes, such as deviant behaviors. For example, Berkowitz (1969) pointed out that frustration led to aggression (one form of employee deviance). Therefore, when experiencing psychological contract breach, an employee may feel frustrated with the employment relationship, and this frustration may lead him or her to display deviant behavior. Much of the empirical research has provided evidence that psychological contract breach has had indirect effect on employee withdrawal behavior (i.e., a form of employee deviance) through the mediating mechanisms of job dissatisfaction, frustration, unmet expectation, and mistrust (e.g., Lo & Aryee, 2003; Deery et al., 2006; Robinson, 1996. For example, an employee’s perception of psychological contract breach may weaken the employee’s trust in the organization (Robinson, 1996). Distrust may weaken his or her willingness to make positive contributions to the organization, in turn negatively affecting the organization. In sum, past research has suggested that psychological contract breach has positive direct and indirect relationships with employee deviance. Therefore, we proposed: Hypothesis 1. Psychological contract breach will be positively related to employee deviance (i.e., interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance). 1.2. The relative explanatory power of psychological contract breach on interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance Two forms of employee deviance—interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance—may differ from each other regarding their antecedents (Berry et al., 2007; Lee & Allen, 2002; Robinson & Bennett, 1995). Robinson and Bennett (1995, p. 567) and Lee and Allen (2002, p. 133) suggested that organizational variables (e.g., job cognitions, organizational inequity, psychological contract breach) might have a greater effect on organizational deviance than on interpersonal deviance. Empirical evidence has provided support for the above proposition. As demonstrated in a meta-analysis by Hershcovis et al. (2007), organizational variables (e.g., job dissatisfaction, situational constraints) had a greater effect on organizational deviance than on interpersonal deviance. Moreover, as Berkowitz (1965) posits, individuals who feel insulted often launch a counterattack against a specific object. At times, individuals behave aggressively toward the particular person who harms them. In the case of psychological contract breach, an employee perceives that his or her employer has failed to fulfill the promised obligations. Because an employer is the main representative or owner of the organization, when perceiving psychological contract breach by the employer, employees may perceive the organization (not their co-workers) to be responsible for perceived breach-associated negative outcomes. As a consequence, the employees are likely to blame the organization by engaging in organization-target retaliatory behavior (i.e., organizational deviance), and less likely to engage in interpersonal deviance toward co-workers. Therefore, psychological contract breach may be more related to organizational deviance and less related to interpersonal deviance. Base on the above, we proposed: Hypothesis 2. Psychological contract breach will have more explanatory power in organizational deviance than in interpersonal deviance. 1.3. The moderating role of attributional style in the relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance Attribution theory posits that individuals have an innate desire to identify the causes of outcomes that are relevant to them (Weiner, 1985). Attributions are an individual’s explanations of the causes of specific events (e.g., work outcomes). As a cognitive personality trait, attributional style is an individual’s explanatory tendency to attribute possible causes to the outcomes of specific positive or negative events, especially one’s explanatory tendency to success or failure results (Peterson, 1991, p. 1; Peterson et al., 1982, p. 288). Attributional style, especially hostile attributional style, may influence employees’ reactions to negative work outcomes (e.g., psychological contract breach) (Douglas & Martinko, 2001). Hostile attributional style is an individual’s general tendency to attribute negative outcomes to external, stable, intentional, and controllable causes (Douglas & Martinko, 2001). When perceiving a psychological contract breach, employees with a high level of hostile attributional style will tend to identify external, stable, employer-intentional, and employer-controllable attributional causes for the occurrence of psychological contract breach. In order to seek for cognitive balance as a way of self protection or self defense, employees with a pronounced hostile attributional style would tend to exhibit negative emotional and behavioral reactions, such as anger, frustration, and employee deviance (e.g., aggressive behaviors toward others, organizational retaliatory behaviors) (Weiner, 1985).

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Moreover, prior research has found that personality (e.g., negative affectivity) is an important moderator between organizational justice (i.e., a situational variable) and organizational retaliatory behaviors (Skarlicki, Folger, & Tesluk, 1999). In line with prior research, we anticipated that, when conceptualized as a cognitive personality variable, hostile attributional style (i.e., a cognitive personality variable) would interact with perceptions of psychological contract breach (i.e., a situational variable) to predict employee deviance. The emotional and behavioral reactions to a perceived situation (e.g., psychological contract breach) may depend on a person’s attribution for causes of the situation, and such differences in causal reasoning can vary as a function of individual personality differences (e.g., hostile attributional style). In sum, based on attribution theory and a person-by-situation interaction view, attributional style may have different effects on the relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance. Therefore, we proposed: Hypothesis 3. Hostile attributional style will moderate the relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance (i.e., interpersonal deviance, organizational deviance) in such a way that the higher the hostile attributional style, the stronger the relationship.

2. Method 2.1. Sample and procedures During the past decade, Taiwan’s electronics industry has been facing increasing capital flight and pressures from domestic and foreign competitors, so it is not uncommon for employees in the industry to experience employers’ breaches of written employment contracts and of psychological contracts by employers. Therefore, we chose employees in Taiwan’s electronic companies as our research participants. Through personal connections, we contacted the heads of the human resource (HR) departments of eight electronics companies and requested their agreement regarding company participation in our study. We explained our research purpose to the HR department heads and then requested that they select from their own company between 20 and 70 employees. The selection would reflect each company’s number of employees and would achieve randomness by alphabetically ordering the employees’ surnames. Also, we requested that the HR-department heads have the employees’ direct supervisors participate in our study. The employees and their supervisors were from two departments (i.e., from manufacturing and from research and development). The HR-department heads selected an initial group of 36 supervisors and 337 employees from the two types of departments. Questionnaire surveys were mailed to the 337 employees (who were to fill out all survey items except those concerning employee deviance) and to their supervisors (who were to rate their subordinates’ deviant behavior). In a cover letter that accompanied the questionnaire, we explained the academic purpose of our research and the voluntary participation nature of the study. We also explained that the responses of the participants would be kept confidential and that only we (the authors) could assess individual responses. Of the surveys sent to the employees and their supervisors, the surveys of 286 employees and the surveys of 30 supervisors were returned to us in the pre-stamped pre-addressed envelopes provided by the first author. After matching the surveys’ number codes and after removing five incomplete surveys, we had 233 matched employee-supervisor surveys for this study. Of the 233 employees, 30% were male with a mean age of 31.1 years. Their mean organizational tenure was 4.6 years. As to job types, 75.5% were from a manufacturing department and 24.5% were from a research and development department. 2.2. Measures The scales in this study were originally developed in English; therefore, the English scale items were translated into Chinese and then back-translated into English by one bilingual (English-Chinese) scholar and one bilingual professional translator. The adoption of the above procedures was to ensure cross-linguistic comparability of the scale-item contents (Brislin, 1980). 2.2.1. Psychological contract breach We used Coyle-Shapiro and Kessler’s (2000) 9-item scale to measure psychological contract breach. Respondents were asked to indicate the degree (1 = not at all, 5 = very great extent) to which their employer had fulfilled nine employment obligations and the degree (1 = not at all, 5 = very great extent) to which their employer had promised nine employment obligations. Sample items of the obligations include ‘‘support to learn new skills,” ‘‘good career prospects,” ‘‘long term job security,” ‘‘fair pay for responsibilities in the job,” and ‘‘pay increases to maintain standard of living.” We calculated psychological contract breach measure according to a two-step process: first, we subtracted the fulfillment degree from the promised degree; then, we summed up the differences. The higher the summed-up differences score, the higher the degree of psychological contract breach. The Cronbach’s a for this measure was .89. 2.2.2. Hostile attributional style We used Kent and Martinko’s (1995) Organizational Attributional Style Questionnaire (OASQ) to measure the extent of an individual’s hostile attributional style. The OASQ measures an individual’s tendency to attribute possible negative workplace

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outcomes to external, stable, employer-controllable, and employer-intentional causes. Our participants were presented with six possible negative workplace outcomes (scenarios), which included ‘‘My employer does not provide me support to learn new skills,” ‘‘I do not have good career prospects,” ‘‘I do not have long term job security,” ‘‘I do not get fair pay for responsibilities in the job,” and ‘‘I do not get pay increases to maintain standard of living.” The participants were then asked to identify the four possible causes (on a 7-point Likert scale) of each of the six scenarios in terms of locus of causality (1 = due entirely to me, 7 = due entirely to my employer), stability (1 = never present in future situations, 7 = always present in future situations), controllability (1 = not at all under my employer’s control, 7 = completely under my employer’s control), and intentionality (1 = not what my employer intended, 7 = exactly what my employer intended). Hostile attributional style was calculated as a composite score: a summing up of the 24 items (6 scenarios  4 causes = 24 items) (Douglas & Martinko, 2001). A higher score represents a stronger hostile attributional style. The Cronbach’s a for this measure was .83. 2.2.3. Employee deviance We used Bennett and Robinson’s (2000) 19-item scale to measure the two dimensions of employee deviance—interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance. Responses ranged from 1 (never) to 5 (always). To further assess the distinctiveness of the two dimensions of this measure, we conducted a two-factor confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The fit indexes for the two-factor CFA had an acceptable fit (v2 = 229.62, df = 151, p < .01; RMSEA = .045; CFI = .94; TLI = .93). The Cronbach’s a s for interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance were .86 and .80, respectively. Furthermore, because supervisors rated multiple employees’ deviant behaviors in this study (an average of 9.5, a range from 6 to 26), it is possible that observations of employee deviance may lack independence. Consequently, we conducted 30° WABA tests for interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance. Results of the WABA tests for interpersonal deviance (E = .72) and organizational deviance (E = .63) demonstrated that lack of independence would not be a problem for our study. 2.2.4. Controls Past research has demonstrated that gender (Hershcovis et al., 2007), age (Berry et al., 2007) and education (Douglas & Martinko, 2001) were related to employee deviance. Therefore, gender, age and education were included as control variables in this study. 3. Results Table 1 shows means, standard deviations, and correlations of the study variables. We used hierarchical regression analysis to test our hypotheses. Table 2 contains the regression results regarding the main effect and the interactive effect that psychological contract breach and that hostile attributional style have on interpersonal deviance and on organizational deviance. To reduce the multicollinearity effect, we centered age, education, psychological contract breach, and hostile attributional style around their means before estimating the models (Jaccard, Turrisi, & Wan, 1990). As shown in Table 2, the regression coefficients in Model 4 (b = .19, p < .01) and Model 8 (b = .16, p < .05) linking psychological contract breach to interpersonal deviance and to organizational deviance were both significant and in the hypothesized direction. Thus, Hypothesis 1 was supported. Hypothesis 2 predicts that psychological contract breach will have more explanatory power in organizational deviance than in interpersonal deviance. As shown in Table 2, psychological contract breach accounted for an additional 5% (p < .001) of the variance in interpersonal deviance in Model 2 and an additional 4% (p < .01) of the variance in organizational deviance in Model 6. The results indicated that psychological contract breach did not have more explanatory power in organizational deviance than in interpersonal deviance. Thus, Hypothesis 2 did not gain support. The results in Table 2 also supported Hypothesis 3, which specified an interactive effect of psychological contract breach and hostile attributional style on employee deviance. As shown in Table 2, the regression coefficients of the interaction terms in Model 4 (b = .13, p < .05; 4R2 = .02, p < .05) and Model 8 (b = .18, p < .01, 4R2 = .03, p < .01) were significant. To further ex-

Table 1 Means, standard deviations, and correlations among variablesa

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Gender Age Eduation Psychological control breach Hostile attributional style Interpersonal deviance Organizational deviance a *

** ***

Mean

SD

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

.30 31.09 14.62 1.32 103.83 2.04 1.98

.46 9.04 1.86 6.07 23.89 .48 .38

.00 .11 .08 .08 .09 .01

.51*** .13 .05 .07 .11

.01 .03** .01 .11

(.89) .16* .26*** .22***

(.83) .38*** .34***

(.86) .45***

(.80)

Cronbach’s alphas appear on the diagonal in parentheses. p < .05. p < .01. p < .001.

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S.-F. Chiu, J.-C. Peng / Journal of Vocational Behavior 73 (2008) 426–433 Table 2 Hierarchical regression analyses predicting employee deviance Interpersonal deviance

Organizational deviance

Model 1

Model 2

Model 3

Model 4

Model 5

Model 6

Model 7

Model 8

.09 .08 .03

.07 .04 .01

.05 .02 .01

.05 .01 .02

.03 .09 .06

.02 .05 .08

.00 .03 .11

.00 .03 .11

Step 2 Psychological contract breach

24***

.19**

.19**

.20**

.16*

.16**

Step 3 Hostile attributional style

.

.34***

.37***

.32***

.35***

3.92** .06 .05 .05***

9.40*** .18 .16 .12***

.13* 8.66*** .20 .18 .02*

7.71*** .15 .13 .10***

.18** 7.95*** .19 .16 .03**

Step 1 Gender Age Education

Step 4 Psychological contract breach * hostile attributional style F value R2 Adjusted R2 4R2

.94 .01 .01

1.28 .02 .02

3.24* .06 .04 .04**

Standardized betas are reported here. VIF vales are between 1.02 and 1.40. * p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001.

plore whether the interaction terms were in the hypothesized direction, following Cohen & Cohen, 1983 procedures, we plotted the regression lines as shown in Figs. 1 and 2. As predicted, the negative relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance was stronger when individuals had higher hostile attributional style. Thus, Hypothesis 3 gained support.

Fig. 1. Interaction of psychological contract breach and hostile attributional style on interpersonal deviance.

Fig. 2. Interaction of psychological contract breach and hostile attributional style on organizational deviance.

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4. Discussion The present study investigates (1) the relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance and (2) the moderating effect of hostile attributional style on the above relationship. The study results demonstrate that psychological contract breach related positively to the two forms of employee deviance (i.e., interpersonal deviance and organizational deviance). Psychological contract breach did not account for more variance in organizational deviance than in interpersonal deviance. Moreover, hostile attributional style moderated the relationships between psychological contract breach and the two forms of employee deviance in such a way that the higher the hostile attributional style, the stronger the relationships. The findings of this study contribute to the literature on psychological contract breach and employee deviance in several ways. First, the present study extends prior research by investigating the boundary conditions (i.e., individual personality differences in hostile attributional style) of employee reactions to psychological contract breach. As Van de Ven (1989) suggested, the inclusion of important moderators is a way to improve existing theory. On the basis of the person-environment interactive perspective, Douglas and Martinko (2001) and Hershcovis et al. (2007) suggested that future research on the antecedents of employee deviance should explore the interactions between individual difference factors (e.g., self control, negative affectivity, motivation, and attributional style) and situational factors (e.g., organizational environment, job cognitions). The present study extends the interactive perspective on employee deviance antecedents by highlighting the moderating effect of hostile attributional style (i.e., one of the individual personality variables) and psychological contract breach (i.e., one of the situational variables) on the two forms of employee deviance. Second, in contrast to our expectations, psychological contract breach did not have more explanatory power in organizational deviance than in interpersonal deviance. This unexpected finding can be explained by displaced aggression theory (Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, & Sears, 1939). According to the displaced aggression theory, when an individual (i.e., a victim) encounters aggression by another individual (i.e., harmdoer), the victim may express his or her anger and frustration by inflicting revenge on individuals other than the harmdoer. One possible explanation for this behavior pattern is that the victim finds it either difficult or impossible to target the harmdoer; in particular, the individual may fear further reprisal from the harmdoer. For example, when encountering abusive supervision, an employee may fear his or her supervisor’s authority or capacity for reprisal (e.g., a layoff or on-the-job harassment). Therefore, the employee may redirect or displace his or her aggressive behaviors onto targets that are less powerful or more available (i.e., coworkers) (Mitchell & Ambrose, 2007). Therefore, in a similar vein, an employee who perceives that his or her employer (as a main representation of the organization) has breached the psychological contract might, rather than engage in organizational deviant behavior toward the organization, display interpersonal deviant behavior toward coworkers. Following the above argument, our findings support the assertion that an employee who has experienced psychological contract breach may displace his or her deviant behaviors onto coworkers (i.e., interpersonal deviance) rather than onto the organization (i.e., organizational deviance). Finally, the study results expand our understanding of the cross-cultural generalizability of the psychological contract breach-employee job behavior relationship by investigating sample employees in Taiwan. The study results were generally congruent with findings of Western studies on the relationship between psychological contract breach and employee withdrawal behavior (i.e., a narrower coverage of employee deviance) (Turnley & Feldman, 1999; Zhao et al., 2007). This congruence implies that there is the possibility of cross-cultural comparability of the studied relationship among individualist cultures (e.g., US) and collectivist cultures (e.g., Taiwan-Chinese) (Tsui et al., 2007). This study has the following practical implications for managers. The study findings suggest that employees would tend to engage in deviant behavior when they perceive psychological breach. Past research also demonstrated that when employers or managers lose the trust of employees (for example, in a perceived breach of the psychological contract during an employment relationship), employees may display deviant behaviors (Mitchell & Ambrose, 2007). Employee deviant behaviors may impose enormous costs on organizational functioning and organizational performance (Bennett & Robinson, 2000). Therefore, in order to reduce the possibility of employee-perceived psychological contract breach, employers should strive to understand the importance of the psychological contract to employees and should strive, as well, to keep employer employment practices consistent with employer employment promises. Moreover, in terms of employee selection, employers and managers may do well to select employees who exhibit lower hostile attributional style. Selection of this type could mitigate the effect of hostility on employee deviance. Despite its contributions, this study has its limitations. First, this study adopted supervisors’ ratings of employee deviance which may underestimate the occurrence of employee deviant behaviors, since supervisors may not have enough information to rate employee deviance accurately. Second, following the measure of psychological contract breach in prior research (Robinson, 1996), this study treated psychological contract breach as a latent aggregate construct. Some research suggested that psychological contract breach comes in different types (e.g., relational, transactional) (Thomas et al., 2003). It is plausible that breach of a certain type of psychological contract may be more strongly related to employee deviance than are breaches of other types of psychological contract. Finally, it might be argued that the incremental variance explained by the interaction terms in interpersonal deviance (2%) and organizational deviance (3%) was rather low. However, as McClelland and Judd (1993) have noted, moderator effects are extremely difficult to detect in nonexperimental field studies as in the case of this study. Moreover, Champoux and Peters (1987) found that 1–3% of incremental variance explained by an interaction term was typical in most field studies. Thus, we believe that the additional amount of variance explained by the interaction in this study is statistically and practically significant.

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To extend and replicate the findings in this study, we propose a few suggestions on future research. First, future research may measure employee deviance from multiple sources (supervisors, co-workers, or employees themselves) to more accurately evaluate employee deviance. Second, in order to clarify the various linkages between psychological contract types and employee deviance, future research may investigate the effects that breaches of different types of psychological contract have on employee deviance. Finally, although the findings of this study shed light on cross-cultural compatibility in the relationship between psychological contract breach and employee negative reactions from an individualistic-culture research framework to a collectivist-culture context (i.e., Taiwan), these findings may be unique to the Taiwan context. To generalize the study findings, future research may replicate our findings using other collectivist cultural samples, such as Indonesia and Turkey. 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