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Civil Service reform has swept through all levels of government during the last decade. These reforms call for greater managerial flexibility at the expense of civil servant employment security and tenure. This work examines the effects of these reforms on the psychological contract of various generations working in Florida's state government. The psychological contract can be defined as an exchange agreement of promises and contributions between two parties, the employee and employer, and includes an individual's beliefs regarding mutual obligations (Rousseau, 1990, 1995). Psychological contract theory is believed by many to be the most accurate explanation of the varied, albeit primarily negative, reactions of employees to job insecurity (King, 2000). The psychological contract becomes an important and appropriate framework to study employee perceptions of civil service reforms. In this research, three distinct literatures were reviewed to build a theory of worker perceptions based on generational cohort. First, a brief account of the civil service reform efforts taking place. From there, the work outlined streams of research associated with the psychological contract and generational differences. From there, gaps in the literature were identified and hypotheses proposed. The hypotheses fell into four groups: psychological contract obligations, job security, self-reliance, and loyalty/commitment levels. Age (birth year) was converted to generational cohort variables which were used in the exploration of generational differences. Analysis of Variance was used to identify the differences in means. The predicted theory of this research was that various generations hold differences in psychological contract perceptions, self-reliance factors, and various career and organizational commitment measures. This theory was only partially supported by the findings. The findings were significant in the area of continuance commitment. There was also significance found between the hypotheses and various control variables. Possible reasons for this are discussed. Employment conditions are changing rapidly in today's public and private work environments. Researchers have attempted to capture the effects of those changes on perceptions, including their effects on the psychological contract. This research contributes to a better understanding of civil service reform, psychological contract, and generational differences. Moreover, it highlights the need for additional research that will illuminate a more accurate conceptualization of the relationship between generation and worker perceptions.
Motivation, Generation, Civil Service Reform, Psychological Contract
Date of Defense
April 23, 2007.
A Dissertation submitted to the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Mary Ellen Guy, Professor Directing Dissertation; Pam Perrewe, Outside Committee Member; James Bowman, Committee Member; Kaifeng Yang, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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