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'Love it, change it, or leave it' – Understanding Highly-skilled Flexible Workers’ Job Satisfaction from a Psychological Contract Perspective


  • Uta Wilkens
  • Daniel Nermerich


In order to understand highly-skilled flexible workers’ job satisfaction, we take their track records into consideration, integrating several employment contracts. We conceptualize our research interest within the framework of the psychological contract to explore individual rationalities in exchange relationships. This expectancy-oriented approach allows the reflection of contract arrangements and related attitudes from a process perspective. The analysis is based on a qualitative approach, investigating data from 13 in-depth interviews with workers from knowledge-intensive working contexts. As a result, it becomes evident that an inherent notion of continuity independent of the formal work contract exists, job episodes apparently indicate continuity. For the interviewees, pro-active changes in episodic work relationships are a dominant coping pattern for sustaining satisfaction at a high aspiration level. Satisfaction appears as an interactional construct with a high notion of reciprocity, acknowledgment and skill development. The emphasis on career track satisfaction instead of job satisfaction and the specification of dynamics across several job episodes as an external regulation for keeping satisfaction at a high aspiration level provides new insights in research on job satisfaction.

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  • Uta Wilkens & Daniel Nermerich, 2011. "'Love it, change it, or leave it' – Understanding Highly-skilled Flexible Workers’ Job Satisfaction from a Psychological Contract Perspective," management revue. Socio-economic Studies, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 22(1), pages 65-83.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:mamere:1861-9908_mrev_2011_1_wilkens

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:ilo:ilowps:344117 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Elke Holst & Dean R. Lillard & Thomas A. DiPrete, 2001. "Proceedings of the 2000 Fourth International Conference of German Socio-Economic Panel Study Users (GSOEP 2000): Editorial Introduction," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 70(1), pages 5-6.
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    Cited by:

    1. Azman ISMAIL & Rizal ABU BAKAR & Wan Aishah WAN MOHD NOWALID & Nurul Hayati ADNAN & Mohamad Azhari ABU BAKAR & Syed Shah ALAM, 2014. "Does Career Program Have Effect On Employee Outcomes? Empirical Evidence," Management and Marketing Journal, University of Craiova, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, vol. 0(2), pages 152-166, November.

    More about this item


    job satisfaction; aspiration level; flexible employment; new employment relationship; psychological contract; reciprocity;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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