The role of wasta in repatriates’ perceptions of a breach to the psychological contract: A Saudi Arabian case study

Maryam Aldossari*, Maxine Robertson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the influence of a national cultural dimension, specifically a strong orientation towards collectivism/reliance on network relationships, referred to as ‘wasta’, on the way in which psychological contracts form and change in a Saudi organisation. Specifically, it focuses upon how the psychological contract is perceived to have been breached by repatriates because of the role that wasta plays in shaping formal and informal HR practices pre- and post-assignment. The analysis demonstrates that prior to international assignment, wasta was taken for granted and only implicitly acknowledged as influencing selection criteria for assignments and individuals’ expectations and obligations associated with their psychological contract. Once repatriated, wasta was foregrounded and perceived as highly problematic in terms of career advancement. This shaped repatriates’ perceptions that their psychological contract had been breached, influencing their intentions to leave. These findings suggest that the psychological contract can be viewed as highly context-specific, as well as a person-centred phenomenon. We consider the implications of our research in terms of the influence of national cultural characteristics on individual’s perceptions of breaches to the psychological contract and highlight the possible implications generally for Saudi Arabia, which is aiming to be less reliant on foreign labour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1854-1873
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number16
Early online date8 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • international assignment
  • national culture
  • psychological contract
  • repatriation

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