Untangling Employee Loyalty: A Psychological Contract Perspective

Business Ethics Quarterly 17 (2):297-323 (2007)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT:Although business ethicists have theorized frequently about the virtues and vices of employee loyalty, the concept of loyalty remains loosely defined. In this article, we argue that viewing loyalty as a cognitive phenomenon—an attitude that resides in the mind of the individual—helps to clarify definitional inconsistencies, provides a finer-grained analysis of the concept, and sheds additional light on the ethical implications of loyalty in organizations. Specifically, we adopt the psychological contract perspective to analyze loyalty's cognitive dimensions, and treat loyalty as an individual-level construction of perceived reciprocal obligations. Based upon this perspective, we present a three-tiered framework of loyalty that provides a psychologically informed definition of the concept, specifies the variety of obligation types that loyalty can imply, and anticipates the potential for asymmetrical loyalty configurations between employers and employees. We use the framework to articulate moral issues associated with both symmetrical and asymmetrical loyalty configurations and discuss the implications of the framework for theory and practice.

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References found in this work

Loyalties.Andrew Oldenquist - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (4):173-193.
Whistleblowing and employee loyalty.Robert A. Larmer - 1992 - Journal of Business Ethics 11 (2):125 - 128.
The philosophy of loyalty.Josiah Royce - 1908 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 16 (6):8-9.
Whistle blowing and rational loyalty.Wim Vandekerckhove & M. S. Ronald Commers - 2004 - Journal of Business Ethics 53 (1-2):225-233.

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