Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Joan Finegan


Researchers have long assumed that employees’ reactions to treatment by their organization are guided by reciprocity norms. Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, and Sowa (1986) developed a measure to assess how sensitive employees were to reciprocity obligations, focusing in particular on their beliefs that work effort should depend on treatment by the organization. Since then, research has found that this Exchange Ideology (EI) predicts variables such as organizational citizenship but cannot predict negative outcomes such as workplace deviance. Insight into why this is the case can be found by examining the related construct of reciprocity orientation. Positive (PRO) and Negative Reciprocity Orientation (NRO) measure the extent to which individuals believe they should reward individuals who have helped them or punish individuals who have hurt them, respectively (Eisenberger, Lynch, Aselage, & Rohdieck, 2004). Missing from the literature on reciprocity beliefs is a similar idea of retaliating against an organization that caused harm. In this dissertation, I developed a measure of Negative Exchange Ideology (NEI), the belief that it is appropriate to retaliate against an organization for negative actions on the part of that organization. Confirmatory factor analyses in Study 1 supported a four-factor structure composed of EI, NEI, PRO, and NRO (N = 302). This structure was supported in Study 2, and NEI moderated the relationship between psychological contract breach and deviance directed at the organization, such that for employees higher in NEI, higher breach perceptions were related to more deviance. EI moderated between breach and citizenship behavior directed at the organization, and NRO moderated between supervisor interactional justice and supervisor-directed deviance (N = 194). PRO was expected to moderate between justice and supervisor-directed OCBs, but no significant effect was found. In Study 3, scenarios depicting high and low levels of breach or interactional justice were presented to participants (N = 282) and anticipated reactions measured in order to gauge the causal effects of reciprocity beliefs. As expected, NEI moderated between breach and organizational deviance, and NRO moderated between injustice and supervisor-directed deviance. Taken together, these results suggest that reciprocity beliefs are useful predictors of workplace deviance and, in some cases, citizenship behaviors.