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Does leader–member exchange buffer or intensify detrimental reactions to psychological contract breach? The role of employees' career orientation

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Doden Wiebke, Grote Gudela, Rigotti Thomas,
Project Schweizer Human-Relations-Barometer
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Vocational Behavior
Volume (Issue) 106
Page(s) 192 - 208
Title of proceedings Journal of Vocational Behavior
DOI 10.1016/j.jvb.2018.02.004

Open Access

Type of Open Access Green OA Embargo (Freely available via Repository after an embargo)


There is an ongoing debate about two contradictory moderating effects of leader–member exchange (LMX) on the relationship between psychological contract breach (PCB) and work outcomes. Whereas some studies demonstrated LMX to be a social support resource capable of buffering the negative effects of PCB, findings from other research suggest that employees show stronger negative reactions to PCB when the quality of relationships with leaders is high. The present study addresses how these contradictory results can be explained by individuals' career orientations. We surveyed a representative random sample of 954 employees from various organizations and occupations to test whether employees with organization-centred versus self-centred career orientations show different interaction effects of PCB and LMX on (a) career satisfaction and (b) counterproductive work behaviour. The results confirmed our hypotheses, demonstrating that for employees with organization-centred career orientations (n = 596) high LMX fosters detrimental reactions to PCB, whereas for employees with self-centred career orientations (n = 358), high LMX functions as a buffer against negative reactions to PCB. Implications of a more nuanced understanding of how PCB and LMX interact are valuable for research and practice alike.