Internships and promises of diversity: How anticipatory psychological contracts shape employment intentions in the U.S.

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The International Journal of Human Resource Management


Our paper bridges psychological contract and recruitment literatures, examining the relationship between diversity messages on recruitment websites and internship outcomes, through the lens of anticipatory psychological contracts (APCs). We focus on interns as a distinct segment of the job market, with data collected in the Midwest region of the U.S. Study 1, using a lab experiment (n = 579), indicates that recruitment websites with diversity messages have a significant impact on job applicants’ perceptions of organizational obligations for offering a diverse and inclusive work environment, in comparison to neutral and exclusive recruitment websites. Moreover, Study 2 (n = 196), based on a field study using two-wave surveys, shows that APC fulfillment mediates the relationship between diversity-related organizational obligations and intention to pursue fulltime employment with the organization. These results suggest that when recruiting interns, employers should be intentional regarding promises made during recruitment to promote accurate APC formation. This is particularly important regarding diversity messaging, because interns hold promises made about diversity more strictly than promises of exclusivity and competitiveness.

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