Let's be professional about this: ideology and the psychological contracts of registered nurses


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Abstract

AimsThis study explores whether there is evidence of an ideological component in the psychological contracts of professional employees, as well as evidence of credible supporting commitments by their employer.BackgroundFundamental changes in the employment context have prompted many individuals to seek a closer alignment between themselves and their work, as well as with the organizational and broader societal contexts. For many professional employees identification with their professional ideology is a significant factor in producing such an alignment.MethodThe study uses an exploratory qualitative approach to analyse interview data collected from a sample of registered nurses employed in an Australian public hospital.ResultsThe analysis identifies psychological contract terms best understood by reference to an ideological currency. It also suggests that the organization is perceived as obligated to provide credible support for that professional contribution, and the perceived lack of such support has significant impacts.ConclusionsThe findings raise doubts about the utility of the concept of a psychological contract that recognizes only economic and socio-emotional exchanges for understanding the psychological contracts of professional employees.

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