Dr. Kevin Henderson: Defining the Psychological Contract

Kevin Henderson recently completed his Ph.D. in Business Administration at the University of Arkansas, and has joined the UST business faculty for his first full-time, post-doctorate teaching experience. His research interests include turnover, organizational identification, employee attachment, and performance appraisals, but perhaps most pressing at present is his work in psychological contracts.

Dr. Henderson defines a psychological contract as “an employee’s perception of what he or she owes the organization and what the organization owes him or her in return.” This becomes particularly interesting when the psychological contract is broken (i.e. the organization does not fulfill its obligations) and employees experience changes in feelings of self-worth.

This research fascinates Dr. Henderson for two reasons. First, the research clearly shows the variety of negative effects broken psychological contracts has on employees, highlighting the importance of the organization fulfilling its obligations. Second, the research tries to determine the best way for managers to handle this situation when it does occur, which is Dr. Henderson’s end goal, to help companies “fix” the problems.

Dr. Henderson chose St. Thomas because he felt a connection to the mission and to the student-centered teaching approach. While he sees value in his research and enjoys that element of his work, he believes his greatest impact will be in the classroom, with his students. Dr. Henderson was also drawn to the people who work at St. Thomas, to the camaraderie of scholars who are ethical, collaborative people.

Growing up in a military family, Dr. Henderson lived in more than 15 places before graduating from high school. Although most of those places were in the south, Dr. Henderson says the novelty of Minnesota winters outweighs the negatives of the cold. He and his wife enjoy going to the movies and providing a home for rescue cats.