Psychological Contracts of Mothers: Does Breach Explain Intention to Leave the Workforce?




Botsford, Whitney E.

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Recent evidence suggests mothers with infants are leaving the workforce (Cohany & Sok, 2007; Johnson, 2008), but research has not yet identified why mothers make such a decision. I propose that mothers form psychological contracts including content related to family that supervisors may not fulfill resulting in intention to leave the organization and ultimately, the workforce. In a study of 181 first-time mothers, participants reported experiencing breach that was exacerbated when mothers perceived promises were intentionally broken. Results also suggested supervisors have the opportunity to control the outcomes of breach and retain mothers by effectively managing perceptions of fair treatment (i.e., interactional justice). This is the first empirical research to indicate that mothers' intentions to leave depend on fulfillment of their psychological contracts related to family and fair treatment in the workplace, rather than personal preferences to spend time with children.



Psychological contracts, Mothers, Interactional justice, Breach, Supervisors