Volunteers' psychological contracts: Extending traditional views

Tim Vantilborgh, Jemima Bidee, Roland Pepermans, Jurgen Willems, Gert Huybrechts, Marc Jegers

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


There is a growing interest in applying the psychological contract concept to the relationship between volunteers and nonprofit organizations. However, previous studies overlook certain elements of volunteers’ psychological contracts as they build on theory established with reference to paid employees. We argue that the inclusion of a value-based psychological contract type, next to transactional and relational types, enables a more thorough understanding of perceived mutual obligations between volunteers and nonprofit organizations. We use the critical incidents technique to map volunteers’ perceived (un)fulfilled obligations and find that volunteers perceive both fulfilled and unfulfilled value-based obligations. Moreover, we describe specific terms related to the mission and values of the organization reported by volunteers. We conclude that future psychological contract research needs to take this value-based dimension into account, especially in volunteerism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1072 - 1091
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 505027 Administrative studies
  • 211903 Science of management
  • 502023 NPO research
  • 605005 Audience research


  • ideological psychological contract
  • nonprofit
  • psychological contract
  • values
  • volunteers

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