Original Research

Peer-to-peer psychological contracts in the South African wine industry

Ruth Penfold, Linda Ronnie
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 13, No 1 | a701 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v13i1.701 | © 2015 Ruth Penfold, Linda Ronnie | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 March 2015 | Published: 02 December 2015

About the author(s)

Ruth Penfold, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Breakwater Campus, South Africa
Linda Ronnie, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Breakwater Campus, South Africa

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Orientation: Very few studies examine the impact of peer relationships on the psychological contract.

Research purpose: Using the backdrop of wine farm workers in the Western Cape, South Africa, the aim of our study was to explore the nature of peer relationships shaping the psychological contract.

Motivation for the study: The agricultural sector of South Africa, in particular the wine farms in the Western Cape, has undergone radical change in the past decades as a result of labour legislation and changing government structures. It was therefore expected that these changes would influence the psychological contracts held by wine farm workers.

Research approach, design and method: This qualitative study sampled all 24 full-time employees and 2 managers on the Constantia Hills Wine Estate in Cape Town, South Africa. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using the critical incident technique in combination with a series of open questions.

Main findings: Our findings showed support for the existence of peer-to-peer psychological contracts and noted the valuable influence of a suitable conduit individual on the relationship between employees and their employer.

Practical and/or managerial implications: Wine farm workers in South Africa have a strong need to be consulted after a lifetime of having no voice. In addition to ensuring suitable levels of two-way communication, management must understand the inter-peer contract and the nature of the relationships sustaining it.

Contribution: Whilst literature has suggested that management of the psychological contract lies firmly within the domain of the employer, our findings indicated that ensuring harmonious peer-to-peer contracts was also central to good working relationships.


workplace relationships; teams; farm workers


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