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The science–practice gap and employee engagement: It’s a matter of principle

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Canadian Psychology





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Admittedly, the social exchange process is complex and there continues to be gaps in our understanding of how these processes play out in exchanges between organisations and their employees. Nevertheless, the principle of social exchange is sufficiently well established to serve as the basis for a number of theories relevant to the development and maintenance of psychological and behavioural engagement, including theories of perceived organisational support (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986), organisational justice (Greenberg, 1987), trust (Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995), leader-member exchange (Liden, Sparrowe, & Wayne, 1997), and psychological contracts ([Rousseau, D. M], 1995). Perceived organisational support, or the belief that the organisation values employees' contributions and is concerned about their well-being, has been found to be one of the best predictors of employees' affective organisational commitment ([John P. Meyer] et al., 2002), and to relate to a number of other indicators of psychological and behavioural engagement, including job satisfaction and organisational citizenship behaviour (Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002). Similarly, fairness in the distribution of resources (distributive justice), in the policies and procedures guiding distribution (procedural justice), and in the treatment of employees (interactional justice) have been shown to have moderate to strong relations with indices of both psychological and behavioural engagement (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001; Meyer et al., 2002). The same is true for perceptions of trust in management (Colquitt, Scott, & LePine, 2007), quality of leader-member exchange (Dulebohn, Bommer, Liden, Brouer, & Ferris, 2012), and the organisation's fulfillment/violation of the psychological contract with employees (Zhao, Wayne, Glibkowski, & Bravo, 2010). In short, we have learned a great deal about the formation of employer-employee relationships and their implications for psychological and behavioural engagement.


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© 2013 Canadian Psychological Association

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