A qualitative study of expatriates’ perceptions of and process of responses to psychological contract breach

Hasuli Kumarika Perera, Yin Teng Chew, Ingrid Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The belief that one’s employer has failed to adequately fulfill its perceived obligations is referred to as psychological contract breach (PCB). This study investigates expatriates’ perceptions of PCB and the process of how they respond to these perceptions. Although the detrimental effects of PCB on work-related outcomes of employees working on home soil are well-established, such research is lacking in the expatriate context. Through qualitative interviews, this research provides new insights into the sources and nature of expatriate-perceived PCB and contextual factors in expatriates’ sense-making processes that govern their responses to PCB. Additionally, motivational mindsets, an understudied individual difference, are a prominent buffering mechanism that restrains expatriates from withdrawing task performance in retaliation for PCB. At the same time, however, subtle and discreet tactics in the form of counterproductive work behavior and decreased professional performance are resorted to as a means for expatriate victims to deal with PCB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1454-1484
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2018


  • Expatriate
  • expatriate performance
  • international assignment
  • psychological contract
  • psychological contract breach
  • self-initiated expatriate
  • sense-making

Cite this