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Setting high expectations is not enough: Linkages between expectation climate strength, trust, and employee performance

Audenaert, Mieke; Decramer, Adelien; Lange, Thomas; Vanderstraeten, Alex


Mieke Audenaert

Adelien Decramer

Thomas Lange

Alex Vanderstraeten


Drawing on climate theory and social exchange theory, the purpose of this paper is to examine whether and how the strength of the expectation climate, defined as the degree of agreement among job incumbents on what is expected from them, affects their job performance. To explain this relationship, the authors utilize mediating trust-in-the organization effects as an explanatory avenue.

In a time-lagged data sample of 568 public service employees, whose job performance is rated by their 242 line managers, the authors apply multilevel modeling. The authors employed stratified random sampling techniques across 75 job categories in a large, public sector organization in Belgium.

The analysis provides support for the argument that expectation climate strength via mediating trust-in-the organization effects impacts positively on the relationship between employee expectations and performance. Specifically, the significant association of the expectation climate strength with trust suggests that the perceived consensus about the expectations among different job incumbents demonstrates an organization’s trustworthiness and reliability to pursue intentions that are deemed favorable for employees. The authors conjecture that expectation climate strength breeds trust which strengthens employees’ job performance.

Practical implications
HRM professionals in general, and line managers in particular, should heed the advice and carefully manage their tools and practices in an effort to signal compatible expectancies to different job incumbents in the same or similar roles.

The results shed new light on the mechanisms through which the strength of collective expectations impacts employee outcomes.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Sep 5, 2016
Publication Date 2016
Deposit Date Nov 25, 2021
Journal International Journal of Manpower
Print ISSN 0143-7720
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 6
Pages 1024-1041
Public URL