This research employed a qualitative method adopted from Creswell (2003), Hardy and Bryman (2004), Silverman (2004)based on interview method, and combined with participant’s observation. Interviews were conducted in ten different UK local authorities, using a semi-structured method. The data was transcribed and analysed separately in a manner informed by the Glaser and Strauss (1967), Corbin and Strauss (1990), Crossley and Vulliamy (1997)concept of grounded theory approach. The findings that emerged from this study have been deliberated in the discussion section below.
Discussing the research finding and interpretations
This section serves the important role of introducing the participants’ voices through the various texts and stories the interviewer collected. Extracts have been lifted from the word to word comments the interviewer had with all the interviewees. It was found that most participants would not agree to take part in the interview, because of fear of reprisal from management. As a result, this paper promised interviewees that their anonymity will be retained by using only the first four letters of their fore-name. Youth in Peacebuilding
False names have been used to describe participants in the past, just as other researchers have done, as supported by Hardy and Bryman (2004).As previously mentioned, presented below are the findings and interpretations of the four codes exhibited by the black British clerical workers interviewed, concerning the factors that influenced and constrained their response to psychological contract violation.
The rationale behind the participants’ decision—why they might leave—led to investigation of the issues relating to outside support.Participants had pointed out that the decision to leave or stay with the same organization depends on the advice/support they received from other groups outside the organization. Participants were asked if they have ever felt let down by their organization, and how that makes them feel. 80% indicated they have been let down in the past by their employers (local authority). Participants pointed out that unfulfilled promises or disappointmentsare usually a common practice across UK local authorities, particularly during management selections and reorganization.Participants were asked how they responded to disappointment when let down by their employer; they were further asked if they contacted their trade union or seek advice/support from groups outside the organization. Participants were asked to tell a story about their experiences. Below is Ahme’s narrative:
I joined this organization over five years ago. My last employer was also a local authority but unfortunately they made me redundant when our call centre service was contracted out to private firm in India. I had a lot of witnesses ready to stand by me because they argued my previous employer should have allocated me to other department (Ahme).
Ahme’s experience suggests he felt let down and also felt his psychological contract has been violated because he believed there are other posts in other departments that management could have given to him; instead the post was given to someone else that has less experience. He was asked, “Did the union come to your support?” encouraging him to continue with his story:
The trade union were not prepared to help pursue the case, according to them the situation was forced on the Council due to lack of financial support from the Centre Government. Some of my team members were telling me to take the Council to industrial tribunal, but in the end I decided I want to move on. That is why I am here today (Ahme)
Owus was asked the same question and responded as follows:
Yes, I have been let down by my employer and that makes me feel I am not being recognise as a valuable worker. Some managers take advantage of you if they find out you are not in the trade union. That means they can call for a 1-2-1 meeting and tell you what senior management want to do and they know you will not take the matter further. This is not a matter of what I can contribute or what I can gain, instead it is a matter of what my employer can get from me (Owus)
Owus’s story points to the fact that he felt let down because management had not recognized him as a valuable staff, and couldn’t take the matter further because of his non-union membership, but in the end due to his family obligations, he decided to stay until he found another job.About 80% of the participants indicated that they often discuss issues concerning unfulfilled promises with their close friends, while other participants pointed out that it is only when you talk to people about issues concerning unfulfilled promises that you discover a lot of them are in the same situation like you. Another participant, ‘Koro’, made the following narrative concerning the response he got when he went to seek advice from his close friend regarding the unfulfilled promises he suffered at his previous job:
I went over to my close friend to seek advice about whether to make a complaint concerning an unfulfilled promise in my last job. After listening to my story, my friend advised me that if I make a complaint now, that will bring up all the issues again and most people may think I’m a troublemaker and senior managers may not be happy with me. At the end I did not bother to proceed with the complaint anymore (Koro)
Koro’s narrative suggests how unhappy he was towards his psychological contract violation. Even though he still wanted to appeal against the decision, the advice he got from his friend made him not to proceed with it. Another participant, ‘Igbi’, made the following narrative as to the reason why she decided to share her problems with other groups i.e., a Church group:
Yes, I discussed my problems with my church group. It’s good you can let the steam out, since they are talking from a religious position and not from the organizational perspective, and can give advice from a neutral position, and they may not be biased (Igbi)
Igbi story shows the benefits of contacting other groups outside the organization, because these groups are able to offer an unbiased advice. Afterwards, Igbi confirmed that if any employee contacts the union they also stand a better chance of knowing what to do, as the trade union has more knowledge about an employee’s rights at work.
5% of the participants interviewed indicated that they did not want to get their trade union representative involved, because they did not want to be branded as troublemaker, and as a result they prefer to leave the organization quietly. Participants were asked if other factors such as family or cultural background influence the way they would respond to unfulfilled promises. Kaza made the following comment about his experience:
I have a young family and a big mortgage; I don’t want to take the risk of losing my job. Therefore I am prepared to take a lower salary. For this reason, I will not take the complaint route if my manager didn’t fulfil his promise of pay increase, but wait until I get another job (Kaza)
Kaza’s comment suggests his family obligation is very important and so does not want to lose his job. In supports, Shit’s narrative below expresses some fear over his family well-being:
I have been working here for over twenty years. If you feel you cannot handle it yourself, then seek for another employment elsewhere, it better to be happy in your job than being miserable. The health and well-being of my immediate family and my extended family depends on this job, for this reason I will not challenge my manager if she didn’t keep to her promise. (Shit)
Shit’s story shows he is influenced by her family circumstances. As a carer he particularly expressed concerns about his family well-being since they depend on him for their daily living. Both Kaza’s and Shit’s narratives show some degree of loyalties and pride for working in their respective organizations, but they do not want to jeopardize their dependence and so they intend to hold on until when they retire or find another job. However, Akin, an older person, narrates below why she feels it is not culturally right to appeal against the psychological contract valuation:
Culturally, my upbringing tells me to respect my boss, and also says ‘do not bite off the hand that feed you’.
To me this means I must do what I am told and in no circumstances must I go fighting with my boss. If I cannot continue with my current work, then I must look for another employer and leave quietly (Akin)
In contrast, Kobo, a younger person, took a different position, a rather aggressive one, as he narrates his experience
There is life outside this job, I really do not care, I am better off on the dole. Do you imagine being told I need to undergo further training on a job I can do properly than others. I think I can do better than this. It shouldn’t take long I will definitely find another job. I must hand in my resignation immediately (Kobo)
Akin and Kobo demonstrate how an older person (Akin) and a younger person (Kobo) respond differently to psychological contract violation.