Between Exit and Voice: Russian and Finnish Employees' Responses to Unmet Expectations

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
CLM.7.03 (Clement House)
Evgeniya Balabanova, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Assessing the degree of meeting employees’ expectations from their employers is crucially important for understanding of work-related attitudes and behaviors. There is lot of empirical evidence of social exchange theory propositions that “employees reciprocate the treatment they receive from their employers” (Coyle-Shapiro, Kessler 2003: 213). From the employees’ perspective, discrepancies between what employees were promised and what they actually receive create inequality in employment relationship. Depending on perceived matching of employers’ obligations and that which has been really received employees reduce or increase the extent of their contributions to the organization (Turnley et al. 2003).

Our study was based on empirical data from 401 employees of 6 Finnish companies (including 295 Finnish respondents in Finland and 104 Russian employees of the same Finnish companies operating in Russia) surveyed in 2013. Data on employees from Russian domestic companies were gathered in 2014 and included a total of 780 respondents.

We found that Finnish employees report the highest rates of perceived psychological contracts’ (PC) breaches compared to Russians. Probably, having more resources, Finnish workers tend to be more critical to organizational functioning. In turn, Russian employees of Finnish companies seem to be the most satisfied with their working conditions. On several items, they even perceive that their organization has actually provided more than they expected from it. Such a positive imbalance in the social exchange turns into higher rates of job engagement, organizational commitment, and identification with organization among Russian employees of Finnish companies.

For all three subsamples, “transactional” PC (performance-based pay, pay increase to maintain living standards, fair pay compared to staff doing similar work in other organizations in the city) breach significantly relates to turnover intentions that is in line with other research (Zhao et al. 2007) and to unmet “relational” expectations (organizational support, training and development, career perspectives, interesting work and involvement into decision-making).

Payment expectations breach is insignificant for voice behavior of Finnish employees but decreases Russian employees’ voice in domestic organizations. It suggests that in case of payment dissatisfaction Russian employees would either leave or adopt a conformist attitude instead of bargaining with their employers. We can say that the tendency of accumulating (dis)advantages is stronger in Russian companies compared to Finnish. Those who met their expectations in payment-related issues tend to be higher involved in political behavior that allows them to keep and strengthen their advantages, i.e. inequality in wealth tends to be coupled with the growing inequality in power in the relationship between the individual and the organization.