Purpose – Outsourced information technology (IT) workers establish two different employment relationships: one with the outsourcing company that hires them and another with the client organization where they work daily. The attitudes that an employee has towards both organisations may be influenced by the interpretations or attributions that employees make about the reasons behind the human resource (HR) management practices implemented by the outsourcing company. This paper aims to propose that commitment-focused HR attributions are positively and control-focused HR attributions are negatively related to the affective commitment to the client organization, through the affective commitment to the outsourcing company. Design/methodology/approach– These hypotheses were tested with a sample of 158 highly skilled outsourced employees from the IT sector. Data were analyzed with structural equation modeling (SEM). Findings– The paper’s hypotheses were supported. It can conclude that, if an employee interprets the HR practices as part of a commitment-focused strategy of the outsourcing company, it has clear attitudinal benefits. The study found that the relationship between HR attributions and the commitment to the client organization is mediated by the commitment to the outsourcing company. Practical implications – These findings hint at the critical role of outsourcing companies in managing the careers of these highly marketable employees. Originality/value – This paper is the first to apply the concept of HR attributions to contingent employment literature in general and to outsourced IT workers in particular.