Original Research

Psychological contract breach and innovative work behaviour: Systematic literature review

Larysa Botha, Renier Steyn
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 12, No 1 | a333 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v12i1.333 | © 2020 Larysa Botha, Renier Steyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 April 2020 | Published: 11 December 2020

About the author(s)

Larysa Botha, Graduate School of Business Leadership, School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa
Renier Steyn, Graduate School of Business Leadership, School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa


Background: Innovative work behaviour (IWB) is central to organisational success and occurs despite psychological contract breaches (PCBs), which are the norm, rather than the exception.

Aim: The aim of the article is to present a comprehensive review of the conceptualisation of IWB and PCB, specifying the manner in which the concepts are defined and assessed. Consistency in conceptualisation and the standardisation of measurement should contribute to the development of the unified body of knowledge.

Setting: The ways concepts are defined and assessed differ across studies, which challenges researchers and managers as no standard definitions or measurement techniques are available.

Methods: A systematic literature review methodology was followed to gather data, which were analysed by focusing on broad adoption, theoretical coherency and, in the case of measurement, psychometric properties.

Results: In total 14 articles were retrieved that measured the PCB-IWB link. Psychological contract breach is most often defined and measured in terms of Robinson and Morrison’s (2000) and Robinson and Rousseau’s (1994) conceptualisations, whilst Janssen’s (2000) framework is applied to IWB. Reliability information is reported for these measures.

Conclusion: Whilst many definitions and measures of the constructs are used, some are theoretically more comprehensive and some are applied more than others, and these are now stipulated. Managers, consultants and researchers are now empowered to enter the academic debate on the PCB-IWB link and to test substantial and complementary hypotheses that will contribute meaningfully to the existing body of knowledge.


psychological contract breach; innovative work behaviour; systematic literature review; conceptualisation; psychometric assessment.


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Crossref Citations

1. Capital psychologique positif et comportement innovant au travail : une revue systématique de la littérature
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doi: 10.3917/th.863.0187