Psychological Contracts and Employee Voice: Does Breach Matter?




psychological contract breach, constructive voice, supportive voice, defensive voice, destructive voice, moderation, psychological contract


Empirical evidence shows that the type of psychological contract and psychological contract breach affect employees’ work behaviours. One of these behaviours is employee voice, which is a key to organisational dynamics. This research aims to determine empirically the ways in which different types of psychological contract are linked to different types of employee voice, and the ways in which psychological contract breaches affect these relationships. The paucity of literature on the relationship between all three variables necessitated this research. The research targeted South African employees working in medium to large organisations with a staff component larger than 60. In a cross-sectional survey, the respondents were asked to answer a questionnaire on psychological contracts, psychological contract breach and employee voice. Correlation and regression analyses were used to test the relationships and the moderation effect of psychological contract breach on the psychological contract–employee voice links. A total of 620 respondents returned completed questionnaires, which showed acceptable psychometric properties. Relational psychological contracts correlated with promotive dimensions of employee voice, while transactional psychological contracts and psychological contract breach correlated with prohibitive dimensions of employee voice. The psychological contract–employee voice relationship was moderated by psychological contract breach only in a transactional psychological contract environment, and only for the prohibitive employee voice dimension. Psychological contracts and psychological contract breach, as well as the interaction between them, influence employee voice; with hindsight, this occurs in explainable ways. The results contribute to the understanding of the complex relationship between these variables and provide fertile ground for the formulation of targeted hypotheses. Practical recommendations are included.


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Author Biographies

Larysa Botha, University of South Arica

Larysa Botha holds a Doctor of Business Leadership Degree from the Graduate School of Business Leadership, UNISA. She also holds a Master’s degree in Musicology from the St Petersburg State Conservatory in the Russian Federation. After moving to South Africa, she consequently earned her MBA and Bachelor’s in Commerce in Industrial and Organisational Psychology, both from the University of South Africa. She has published five papers. She is currently employed at Milpark Education, where she consults to corporate organisations on learning and development strategies.

Renier Steyn, University of South Africa

Renier Steyn is a professor of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at the University of South Africa and has industry experience in the field. He obtained four doctoral degrees, the latest in 2020. He completed training at UCLA, MIT and Harvard Business School. He has supervised more than 100 research projects and has published more than 50 papers. He was accepted as a member of the South African Academy for Science and Arts.

Graduate School of Business Leadership


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How to Cite

Botha, L., & Steyn, R. (2023). Psychological Contracts and Employee Voice: Does Breach Matter?. African Journal of Employee Relations, 47, 33 pages .



Received 2022-08-03
Accepted 2023-08-10
Published 2023-12-13