Influence of pre-merger employment relations and individual characteristics on the psychological contract
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Organisational changes and transformations, in which employees are exposed to mergers, acquisitions and take-overs of their organisations, are a common phenomenon these days. Empirical evidence on the formation of initial trust in new organisational relationships has shown that past experiences are an important determinant of an individual's intention to trust another party. In this article the aim is to assess the influence of a prior employment relationship in a pre-merging workplace on the experience of the psychological contract by the employees of the actually merged institution. The individual characteristics of the employees are also investigated to identify how these characteristics influence the psychological contract. The population consisted of employees of two previously independent universities (N1 = 887, N2 = 1 649, Ntotal = 2 536) that merged into one university with three campuses (two associated with a historically white university and one with a historically black university). The former universities had very different histories with very dissimilar employment relations, demographic compositions and management structures. One year after the merger, a questionnaire was handed out to a randomly stratified sample (n1 = 191, n2 = 301, ntotal = 492) at all the workplaces. The questionnaire included a psychological contract measure, assessing the employee's experience of employer obligations (43 items) and employee obligations (21 items), as well as items measuring the influence of the merger on the experience of the psychological contract. Various significant differences were found between the previous universities, especially with respect to the experience of employer obligations not being kept by the employer. The individual characteristics of the respondents had less influence on the experience of the psychological contract than the social context of the previous employment relationships.