The aim of this study is to examine the processes underlying the association between job insecurity and emotional exhaustion, proposing the lack of reciprocity in the organizational exchange relationship as theoretical explanation. Specifically, based on the social exchange perspective, we compared and tested two distinct mediating mechanisms: breach of the psychological contract and distributive injustice. These two indicators of lack of reciprocity constitute the explanatory process through which job insecurity relates to emotional exhaustion, the primary component of burnout. Data analysis from a sample of 322 blue-collar workers in Italy confirmed the mediational hypotheses. From the contrast test, distributive injustice resulted as the indicator with more explanatory strength. The results contribute to research on the theoretical explanations of the aversive consequences of job insecurity, considering the nature and antecedents of psychological distress from an organizational exchange perspective.
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