Psychological Contract Meets Cultural Theory: A Study of Self-Initiated Expatriates

Johannes Marcelus Kraak, Yochanan Altman, Aziza Laguecir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This qualitative study explores the psychological contracts of self-initiated expatriates regarding their perceived work context through recourse to Cultural Theory (Grid/Group analysis) and brings together a Social Exchange theory with a neo-Durkheimian theory, with the potentiality to enrich each other. Employing in-depth semi-structured interviews and follow-ups, we studied 16 self-initiated expatriates working in the French hospitality sector. In the interviews, we focused on their work environments and career/life contexts and addressed specific questions about contract fulfillment, breach, and violations. To do that, we developed and validated an interview schedule that builds on the bodies of knowledge of both theories. Our findings suggest four distinct types of psychological contracts that correspond with Grid/Group classification. Following high/low structuration and sociality differentiation, study participants described sets of psychological contract contents, evaluations, and reactions to psychological contract breach. The study findings demonstrate both the utility of examining Cultural Theory with psychological contract tools and the benefits of including distinctive worldview formulations from Cultural Theory in psychological contract research and theorizing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-402
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Studies of Management and Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Copyright © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Cultural theory
  • psychological contract
  • self-initiated expatriates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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