Personality, violations in psychological contract and counterproductive workplace behaviours

Ethics Approval Number: 2011/204

Students: Lisa Paton & Jayne Dudney

Supervisor: Dr Graeme Ditchburn

Project completed 2012

The purpose of this study is to explore the relationships amongst personality, psychological contract fulfilment (PCF) and counterproductive work behaviours (CWBs). A cross-sectional online design using self-report data was employed with 117 employed adults. The personality variables of agreeableness, neuroticism and conscientiousness and the psychological contract were significantly predictive of four CWBs. Theft was predicted by agreeableness, neuroticism and PCF. Abuse against others was predicted by agreeableness and PCF. CWB withdrawal was independently predicted by conscientiousness and PCF. Contrary to expectations psychological contract breach does not mediate the Agreeableness – Counterproductive behaviour relationship suggesting that Agreeableness accounts for most of the variance in the relationship with counterproductive behaviours. Breach was found to mediate the relationship between Conscientiousness and counterproductive behaviours. This result suggests that low conscientious individuals are more likely to perceive breach which will then lead to deviant acts in the workplace.

This research contributes to the literature by demonstrating that a more detailed analysis of the CWB construct is needed to accurately understand individual antecedents that potentially guide interventions that reduce the financial costs and impacts on employee well-being. Further research is proposed to explore the relationship between the personality domain of Openness to Experience and counterproductive behaviours and perceptions of breach as mediator.