Original Research

The impact of psychological contracts on employee engagement at a university of technology

Vinessa Naidoo, Ishana Abarantyne, Robert Rugimbana
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 17 | a1039 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v17i0.1039 | © 2019 Vinessa Naidoo, Ishana Abarantyne, Robert Rugimbana | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 January 2018 | Published: 15 January 2019

About the author(s)

Vinessa Naidoo, Business School, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
Ishana Abarantyne, Business School, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
Robert Rugimbana, Business School, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa


Orientation: Changing organisational dynamics have caused a need for organisations to understand the employment relationship processes and outcomes in order to improve organisational effectiveness, increase productivity and retain talented employees.

Research purpose: The purpose of the study is to determine which elements of the academic employee’s psychological contract are impacting employee engagement at a university of technology.

Motivation for the study: The study was motivated by the findings of a 2013 climate survey at an institute of higher education, indicating that many employees were dissatisfied and believed that their expectations were not met by the organisation.

Research approach/design and method: A quantitative technique via online questionnaires was employed for data collection. The sample size was 400 out of 900 academic staff members.

Main findings: The study confirmed that most employees appear to have developed a positive psychological contract. It indicated, however, that many employees may be experiencing discord in the employment relationship. Both transactional and relational elements of the psychological contract appeared to be essential to academic employees.

Practical/managerial implications: The study identified factors of importance to academic employees that should be considered in the compilation of retention policies.

Contribution/value-add: The results of the study could contribute towards addressing some of the challenges by creating a better understanding of the needs of academic employees and the impact of psychological contract fulfilment and breach. This could benefit the higher education sector as a whole.


academic employees; contract fulfilment; contract breach; employee retention; institute of higher education; quantitative research


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