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Tue, 16 May


Kedge Business School, Bordeaux

The Search for the Sustainable Employment Relationship | 16-17 May

SUBMISSION DATE EXTENDED! Psychological Contract (PC) Small Group Conference, designed to reconsider the psychological contract and assess whether a high-quality psychological contract is a synonym to sustainable management as a well-functioning employment relationship.

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The Search for the Sustainable Employment Relationship | 16-17 May
The Search for the Sustainable Employment Relationship | 16-17 May

Time & Location

16 May 2023, 09:00 CEST – 17 May 2023, 17:00 CEST

Kedge Business School, Bordeaux, 680 Cr de la Libération, 33405 Talence, France

About the Event

Call for papers Psychological Contract (PC) Small Group Conference


Johannes Kraak (Centre of Excellence for Sustainability, Kedge Business School:

Yannick Griep (Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University), 

Laïla Benraiss-Noailles (IAE, Université de Bordeaux), 

Vincent Maymo (IAE, Université de Bordeaux), 

Rosalind Searle, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow & EAWOP Impact Incubator, 

Samantha Hansen (Department of Management, University of Toronto Scarborough and Rotman School of Management)

Conference Theme and Scope

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated existing changes that have been occurring for some time for work, with the rise of technology in relation to work and its hidden governing algorithms, the replacement of set worktimes and places with mobile and remote working, and the undermining of wage and work security and more critically the employment relationship due to the growing application of gig work (de Vaujany et al., 2021; Kellogg et al., 2020; Schmid & Dowling, 2020; Smids et al., 2020; Wood et al., 2019). The stagnation of many wages concurrent with rises in CEO salaries, has occurred at the same time of exponential rises in the cost of living and fuel crisis. Together these elements have graphically shown the disparity to the employment contract for many, with a potential fulfilment and breach of the psychological contract in the same organization. As a result, questions of sustainable employment and sustainable HRM are trending topics.

References to sustainability have become omnipresent in today’s economy. Sustainability has been used to describe organizations, their products, supply chain partners, employees, and even customers. We are led to believe that sustainability is all around. Yet, it would seem that its reality is far more complex. Although many people and companies refer to sustainability of HRM and employment, there are many questions as to what it entails, how it is distinct from mainstream HRM, indeed whether it is a real thing or merely a marketing devise to appease customers and shareholders. In stark contrast to sustainability messaging on organizational websites, HRM is increasingly focusing on short-term performance indicators (Marchington, 2015) and placing stakeholder interest and the extraction of profit taking before employees (Dundon & Rafferty, 2018). Indeed, little attention from WOPsy regarding the social factors to better inform financial investors trying to utilise ‘Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) factors (Searle & McWha-Hermann, in Press). Thus, unsurprisingly sustainable human resource management is primarily employer-driven, and focused on increasing employee productivity (Richards, 2019).

The nature of work has changed significantly in the past decade with employment shifting from a Standard Employment Relationship (International Labour Organization (ILO), 2011)—based on notions of mutual loyalty, permanent employment, and security — to forms of employment characterized by precarious work arrangements, a short-term focus, with a lack of security or future prospects, and a stronger neo-liberalism agenda (see Cooper, 2002; Guest, 2004; Bankins et al., 2020). At the same time, attention have shifted towards employee health and wellbeing, and with the lucky few benefiting from contracts with greater work-life balance, flexible working hours, & opportunities to work from home. Although these changes have brought along numerous benefits in terms of increased flexibility for both workers and organizations, they have also made working in Europe and in other contexts more insecure, isolating, and demanding. The contours of the traditional employee-employer relationship have been significantly altered.

The psychological contract is a cognitive schema, or mental model, of the perceived obligations between exchange parties such as the employee and the employer (Rousseau, 1989, 1995). For example, an employee may believe that the organization is obligated to provide a safe work environment and regular pay increases in exchange for the employee’s hard work and loyalty. As such, the psychological contract serves to guide perceptions and behaviors in the employee-employer exchange relationship. The psychological contract theoretical framework is used commonly to study the employment relationship (Freese & Schalk, 2008), and given that employment is an employee’s principal source of rights and benefits in the workplace (ILO, 2021), it represents a meaningful starting point to work toward sustainable HRM, and ultimately, toward positive outcomes such as employee wellbeing and retention.

This small group conference is designed to reconsider the psychological contract, and assess whether a high-quality psychological contract is a synonym to sustainable management as a well-functioning employment relationship. Working in these contracts employees feel respected, which is likely to trigger positive outcomes, such as a strong desire to stay with the company, and raised job satisfaction and productivity. Are these high-quality contracts more sustainable for organizations? This conference aims to develop novel conceptual, empirical and methodological advances in our understanding of the psychological contract and sustainable employment relationships through (but not limited to) the following questions:

  • What constitutes a high-quality psychological contract? Are we going back to the discussion between transactional and relational contracts or is there more to this?
  • How can employers and employees develop and maintain high quality psychological contracts? Are we looking at delivering on psychological contract contents and trying to prevent psychological contract breach or are there other aspects where the emphasis should be placed?
  • How do we include context into the research agenda on high quality psychological contracts? Are we going to focus on the usual aspects where we expect to find these contracts (i.e., employees with scarce professional and managerial competences) or are we going to study those in menial and operational jobs who are often overlooked when it comes to quality employment?

Meeting format, location and date 

The small group conference will take place over two days (16th & 17th of May 2023) at the Kedge Business School campus in Bordeaux with sessions organized thematically. The program will include academic research talks as well as policy makers and practitioners talks and poster sessions. The Paper Presentations will be 20 minutes in length (15-minute presentation + 5-minute discussion). Authors should provide details on the purpose, rationale, methods, results, and implications (theoretical, practical). Posters should fit onto an 8 x 4 foot poster board and comprise a summary of the purpose, rationale, methods, results, and implications. This presentation format offers a useful means of procuring valuable feedback on early-stage research, with submissions specifically welcomed of work-in-progress for poster presentation. The days will provide ample time for extended discussions and networking. In particular, we will use an extended discussion planned at the end of each session participants to provide space to co-generate questions, and to identify the next steps to bridge the gap between research, organizational practice, and policy.

Keynotes, EAWOP Impact Incubator & awards

We are pleased to announce that Marion Fortin (Toulouse School of Management), Ines Meyer (University of Cape Town), and René Schalk (Tilburg University) have already confirmed as keynote speakers.

Rosalind Searle from the EAWOP Impact Incubator will organize a workshop around impact and stakeholders. We are also pursuing the participation of industry partners in order to move the discussion around impact forward. Depending on the interest for this workshop, we might expand the format and plan it on the afternoon on May 15th.

We are also planning to give out two awards: one to the Best Paper and one to the Best Early Career Paper.

Conference fees

The conference fee is 425 EUR for all participants (reduced PhD student fee is 250 EUR). This registration fee includes two lunches, coffee breaks, a welcome reception and a conference dinner.

Submission of abstracts

We encourage submissions relevant to sustainable employment & psychological contracts. Original work will undergo blind review. Submissions should be in “expanded abstract” form, not to exceed 2000 words, and adhere to APA formatting guidelines (e.g., double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman font).

Submissions not accepted for paper presentations may be accepted as poster presentations.

Submissions should include two documents: (1) Title page including all the

authors details, and (2) Anonymized extended abstract to be structured as follows:

purpose/contribution, design/methodology, results, limitations, implications, and

originality/value. In the abstract, authors should also indicate how their paper fits the scope of

the SGM. Submitted abstracts will be pre-screened and selected by the scientific committee

(a selection of scientific scholars from the EAWOP members) following a blind peer-review

procedure. Participants will have the opportunity to submit their work either as an oral or

poster presentation.


Please send submissions (indicating desired presentation type) by 31st March to

Notification of acceptance will be provided by 15th April.

Special issue

We are very pleased to inform you that we have a special issue in Group and Organization Management that will be linked to the Bi-Annual Psychological Contract (PC) Small Group Conference in Bordeaux as well as the HRIC conference that will take place in South Africa in late May 2023. 

The call for this special issue: “Making the (Entire) World a Better Place? Aligning Theory and Practice Towards a More Sustainable & Inclusive HRM” will be available on the GOM website shortly. 

Please contact Johannes Kraak, who is one of the special issue editors, if you have any questions.

Scientific Committee

  • Johannes Kraak, Centre of Excellence for Sustainability, Kedge Business School
  • Yannick Griep, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University
  • Laila Benraiss Noailles, équipe RH, IAE, Université de Bordeaux
  • Vincent Maymo, Axe RSE, IAE, Université de Bordeaux
  • Olivier Herrbach, IAE, Université de Bordeaux
  • Julien Cusin, IRGO, IAE, Université de Bordeaux
  • Rosalind Searle, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow & EAWOP Impact Incubator
  • Samantha Hansen, Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto

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