An Examination of the Relational Aspects of Leadership Credibility, Psychological Contract Breach and Violation, and Interactional Justice

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Virginia Tech


Especially during times of intense change, managers may negatively impact the quality of employee-manager relationships by breaching or violating psychological contract terms and exhibiting unfair treatment (i.e., interactional injustice) in the workplace. A psychological contract is conceptualized as an exmployee's perception or individualistic belief about the reciprocal and promissory nature of the employment relationship (Argyris, 1960; Levinson, Price, Munden, Mandl, & Solley, 1966; Rousseau, 1989, 1990, 1995; Schein, 1965, 1994). Misperceptions surrounding contractual changes and perceived misalignments between managers' words and deeds have contributed to employee perceptions of contract breach and violation, which are linked to negative employee attitudes and behaviors (Andersson, 1996; Morrison & Robinson, 1997; Pate, Martin, & Staines, 2000; Rousseau, 1995). Employees may simultaneously experience interactional injustice when managers act in disparaging ways and fail to provide adequate explanations (Bies, 1989; Bies & Moag, 1986).

Leadership literature has provided evidence that high-quality leadership can positively influence employees' behaviors and attitudes and increase perceptions of workplace fairness (Dirks & Ferrin, 2002; Kickul, Gundry, & Posig, 2005; Kouzes & Posner, 2003). However, the relational role of leadership credibility, within the context of psychological contract breach and violation and interactional justice, has not been examined in leadership, psychological contract, and organizational justice literatures. This study was designed to explore the relationships between leadership credibility, interactional justice, and psychological contract breach and violation. The results of the study confirmed that employees' perceptions about leaders' credibility does strongly relate to managerial violation, interpersonal justice, and informational justice.



Interpersonal justice, Informational justice, psychological contract violation, Psychological contract breach, Leadership credibility