There is an increasing need for managers to understand what motivates younger versus older workers to continue work within their company. We believe that this two-wave study among 90 Dutch employees is the first to examine: (1) the cross-lagged relationships between breach of psychological contract (which includes transactional and relational obligations) and intrinsic work motivation, and (2) the moderating role of the age-related variables future time perspective and regulatory focus. Regulatory focus concerns the orientation (either promotion-focused or prevention-focused) by which an individual pursues their goals. Based on psychological contract theory, we expected and found that relational contract breach predicts lower work motivation. Furthermore, based on lifespan developmental and regulatory focus theory, we assumed that this relationship would be stronger when workers experienced an open future time perspective and a promotion focus rather than a prevention focus. The results showed that future time perspective indeed had a strengthening, and prevention focus a reducing moderating effect in the relationship between psychological contract breach and work motivation. However, no significant effects for promotion focus were found. These findings indicate that age-related processes such as future time perspective and regulatory focus are important variables to include in future psychological contract research.

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Work and Stress
Department of Psychology

de Lange, A., de Jong, N., Bal, M., van der Heijden, B., & Schaufeli, W. (2011). When I'm 64: Psychological contract breach, work motivation and the moderating roles of future time perspective and regulatory focus. Work and Stress, 25(4), 338–354. doi:10.1080/02678373.2011.632610