ORIENTATION: Human resource practices influence the psychological contract between
employee and employer and, ultimately, organisational performance.
RESEARCH PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to examine the effect of human resource
practices on the types of psychological contracts in an iron ore mining company in South
MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY: Although there have been a number of conceptual studies on
the effect of human resource practices on psychological contracts, there has been no effort
to synthesise the links between these contracts and various human resource practices
systematically. This study endeavoured to provide quantitative evidence to verify or refute
conceptual studies on this relationship. Its findings could inform human resource strategies
and, ultimately, the prioritisation of human resource practices to improve the cost-effective
allocation of resources.
RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD: The researchers administered two questionnaires.
These were Rousseau’s Psychological Contract Inventory (2000) and the Human Resource
Practices Scale of Geringer, Colette and Milliman (2002). The researchers conducted the study
with 936 knowledge workers at an iron ore mining company in South Africa. They achieved
a 32% response rate.
MAIN FINDINGS: The findings showed that most participants have relational contracts with the
organisation. Another 22% have balanced contracts, 8% have transitional contracts whilst only
1% have transactional contracts. The study suggests that there are relationships between these
psychological contracts and specific human resource practices. The study found that training
and development was the most important human resource practice for developing relational
and balanced contracts. Employees thought that they contributed more than their employer
did to the relationship. The researchers developed a model to illustrate the influence of the
various human resource practices on psychological contracts.
PRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: The influence of human resource practices on relational
contracts could assist organisations to invest in human resource practices. During recessions,
organisations tend to reduce expenditure on human resource practices, especially training
and development. The findings of this study, about the relationship between training and
development and relational contracts, highlight the negative effect that this trend could
have on psychological contracts, individual and organisational behaviour and, ultimately,
CONTRIBUTION/VALUE-ADD: Based on this empirical study, the researchers proposed a
conceptual model to illustrate the relationship between different psychological contracts and
specific human resource practices, like training and development, which had the strongest
relationships with relational contracts.