The Importance of Idiosyncratic Deals at Work

Topic(s): job attitudes, job satisfaction, organizational commitment
Publication: Journal of Management (2013)
Article: Let’s make a deal: Development and validation of the ex post I-Deals Scale
Authors: C.C. Rosen, D.J. Slater, C.-H. Chang, R.E. Johnson
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

When people are being hired or negotiating the terms of their employment, they often make idiosyncratic deals, also known as i-deals. I-deals are informal, nonstandard agreements between the employee and the employer that lead to beneficial outcomes for both parties. For example, they might negotiate compensation or work hours. In a recent series of studies, researchers set out to determine what exactly i-deals are, develop a measure of i-deals, and then establish that measure’s validity.


According to the authors, i-deals have four distinguishing characteristics. They are individually negotiated, heterogeneous (in other words, they’re not the same for everyone), mutually beneficial, and vary in scope. The authors proposed four main dimensions of i-deals: schedule flexibility, location flexibility, financial incentives, and task and work responsibilities. They then developed a measure that can be used to assess to what extent an employee reports negotiating i-deals.


Using the measure that they developed, the authors found that employees with better exchange relationships with their supervisors or who have more political skill are more likely to negotiate i-deals. Schedule flexibility i-deals and task and work responsibilities i-deals were positively related to job commitment and job satisfaction.

As a result of this work, we have a reliable and valid measure to assess i-deals. In addition, we now better understand what i-deals are, what may influence their occurrence, and what they may lead to. I-deals are related to employee satisfaction and commitment, so they are an important part of the negotiation process with employees.