Greenberg (1987) introduced the concept of organizational justice with
regard to how an employee judges the behaviour of the organization and
the employee's resulting attitude and behaviour. (e.g., if a firm
makes redundant half of the workers, an employee may feel a sense of
injustice with a resulting change in attitude and a drop in
Justice or fairness refers to the idea that an action or decision is
morally right, which may be defined according to ethics, religion,
fairness, equity, or law. People are naturally attentive to the
justice of events and situations in their everyday lives, across a
variety of contexts (Tabibnia, Satpute, & Lieberman, 2008).
Individuals react to actions and decisions made by organizations every
day. An individual's perceptions of these decisions as fair or unfair
can influence the individual's subsequent attitudes and behaviors.
Fairness is often of central interest to organizations because the
implications of perceptions of injustice can impact job attitudes and
behaviors at work.
Justice in organizations can include issues related
to perceptions of fair pay, equal opportunities for promotion, and
personnel selection procedures.
2 Corporate social responsibility
3 Roots in equity theory
4.4 Proposed models
5 The role of affect in perceptions
6 Antecedents of perceptions
6.1 Employee participation
7 Outcomes of perceptions
Job satisfaction and organizational commitment
7.4 Organizational citizenship behavior
7.5 Counterproductive work behaviors
Absenteeism and withdrawal
7.7 Emotional exhaustion
7.9 Turnover Intention
8 See also
Organizational justice is conceptualized as a multidimensional
construct. The four proposed components are distributive, procedural,
interpersonal, and informational justice. Research also suggests the
importance of affect and emotion in the appraisal of the fairness of a
situation as well as one's behavioral and attitudinal reactions to the
situation (e.g., Barsky, Kaplan, & Beal, 2011). Much literature in
the industrial/organizational psychology field has examined
organizational justice as well as the associated outcomes. Perceptions
of justice influence many key organizational outcomes such as
motivation (Latham & Pinder, 2005) and job satisfaction (Al-Zu'bi,
Corporate social responsibility
A concept related to organizational justice is corporate social
Organizational justice generally refers to
perceptions of fairness in treatment of individuals internal to that
organization while corporate social responsibility focuses on the
fairness of treatment of entities external to the organization.
Corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility refers to a mechanism by which
businesses monitor and regulate their performance in line with moral
and societal standards such that it has positive influences on all of
its stakeholders (Carroll, 1999). Thus, CSR involves organizations
going above and beyond what is moral or ethical and behaving in ways
that benefit members of society in general. It has been proposed that
an employee's perceptions of their organization's level of corporate
social responsibility can impact that individual's own attitudes and
perceptions of justice even if they are not the victim of unfair acts
(Rupp et al., 2006).
Roots in equity theory
The idea of organizational justice stems from equity theory (Adams,
1963, 1965), which posits that judgments of equity and inequity are
derived from comparisons between one's self and others based on inputs
and outcomes. Inputs refer to what a person perceives to contribute
(e.g., knowledge and effort) while outcomes are what an individual
perceives to get out of an exchange relationship (e.g., pay and
recognition). Comparison points against which these inputs and
outcomes are judged may be internal (one's self at an earlier time) or
external (other individuals).
Three main proposed components of organizational justice are
distributive, procedural, and interactional justice (which includes
informational and interpersonal justice).
Distributive justice is conceptualized as the fairness associated with
decision outcomes and distribution of resources. The outcomes or
resources distributed may be tangible (e.g., pay) or intangible (e.g.,
praise). Perceptions of distributive justice can be fostered when
outcomes are perceived to be equally applied (Adams, 1965).
Procedural justice is defined as the fairness of the processes that
lead to outcomes. When individuals feel that they have a voice in the
process or that the process involves characteristics such as
consistency, accuracy, ethicality, and lack of bias then procedural
justice is enhanced (Leventhal, 1980).
Interactional justice refers to the treatment that an individual
receives as decisions are made and can be promoted by providing
explanations for decisions and delivering the news with sensitivity
and respect (Bies & Moag, 1986). A construct validation study by
Colquitt (2001) suggests that interactional justice should be broken
into two components: interpersonal and informational justice.
Interpersonal justice refers to perceptions of respect and propriety
in one's treatment while informational justice relates to the adequacy
of the explanations given in terms of their timeliness, specificity,
Interpersonal justice "reflects the degree to which people are treated
with politeness, dignity, and respect by authorities and third parties
involved in executing procedures or determining outcomes".
Informational justice "focuses on explanations provided to people that
convey information about why procedures were used in a certain way or
why outcomes were distributed in a certain fashion".
Three different models have been proposed to explain the structure of
organizational justice perceptions including a two factor model, a
three factor model, and a four factor model. Many researchers have
studied organizational justice in terms of the three factor model
(e.g., DeConinck, 2010; Liljegren & Ekberg, 2010) while others
have used a two factor model in which interpersonal justice is
subsumed under procedural justice while yet some other studies suggest
a four factor model best fits the data (Colquitt, 2001). Greenberg
(1990) proposed a two-factor model and Sweeney and McFarlin (1993)
found support for a two-factor model composed of distributive and
procedural justice. Through the use of structural equation modeling,
Sweeney and McFarlin found that distributive justice was related to
outcomes that are person-level (e.g., pay satisfaction) while
procedural justice was related to organization-level outcomes (e.g.,
The accuracy of the two-factor model was challenged by studies that
suggested a third factor (interactional justice) may be involved. Bies
and Moag (1986) argue that interactional justice is distinct from
procedural justice because it represents the social exchange component
of the interaction and the quality of treatment whereas procedural
justice represents the processes that were used to arrive at the
decision outcomes. Generally researchers are in agreement regarding
the distinction between procedural and distributive justice but there
is more controversy over the distinction between interactional and
procedural justice (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001). Colquitt
(2001) demonstrated that a four-factor model (including procedural,
distributive, interpersonal, and informational justice) fit the data
significantly better than a two or three factor model. Colquitt's
construct validation study also showed that each of the four
components have predictive validity for different key organizational
outcomes (e.g., commitment and rule compliance).
Another model of organizational justice proposed by Byrne (1999) and
colleagues (Byrne & Cropanzano, 2000) suggested that
organizational justice is a multi-foci construct, one where employees
see justice as coming from a source - either the organization or their
supervisor. Thus, rather than focus on justice as the three or four
factor component model, Byrne suggested that employees personify the
organization and they distinguish between whether they feel the
organization or supervisor have treated them fairly (interactional),
use fair procedures (procedural), or allocate rewards or assignments
fairly (distributive justice). A number of researchers used this model
exploring the possibility that justice is more than just 3 or 4
factors (e.g., Karriker & Williams, 2009).
The role of affect in perceptions
One of the key constructs that has been shown to play a role in the
formation of organizational justice perceptions is affect. The precise
role of affect HH in organizational justice perceptions depends on the
form of affectivity being examined (emotions, mood, disposition) as
well as the context and type of justice being measured. Affect may
serve as an antecedent, outcome, or even a mediator of organizational
A recent article (Barksy, Kaplan, & Beal, 2011) provides a model
that explains the role of affect and emotions at various stages of the
appraisal and reaction stages of justice perception formation and
illustrates that injustice is generally an affect-laden and subjective
experience. Affect and emotions can be part of the reactions to
perceived injustice, as studies have shown that the more injustice
that is perceived, the higher degrees of negative emotions are
experienced. In addition, affect can act as a mediator between justice
perceptions and actions taken to redress the perceived injustice.
Affect plays this role in equity theory such that negative affective
reactions act as a mediator between perceptions and actions, as
emotional reactions to justice motivate individuals to take action to
A recent meta-analysis by Barsky and Kaplan (2007) condenses many
studies on this topic and explains that state and trait level affect
can influence one's perceptions of justice. The findings of Barsky and
Kaplan show that both state and trait level negative affect can act as
antecedents to justice perceptions. State and trait level negative
affect are negatively associated with interactional, procedural, and
distributive justice perceptions. Conversely, positive state and trait
affectivity was linked to higher ratings of interactional, procedural
and distributive justice.
Based on the research regarding the central role of affect in justice
perceptions, Lang, Bliese, Lang, and Adler (2011) extended this
research and studied the idea that sustained clinical levels of
negative affect (depression) could be a precursor to perceptions of
injustice in organizations. Lang et al. (2011) tested longitudinal
cross-lagged effects between organizational justice perceptions and
employee depressive symptoms and found that depressive symptoms do
lead to subsequent organizational justice perceptions. Thus, affect
can serve as an antecedent to justice perceptions in this instance.
Antecedents of perceptions
One antecedent to perceptions of organizational justice is the extent
to which employees feel that they are involved in decision-making or
other organizational procedures. Higher levels of justice are
perceived when employees feel that they have input in processes than
when employees do not perceive that they have the opportunity to
participate (Greenberg & Folger, 1983; Bies & Shapiro, 1988).
The opportunity or ability to participate in decision making improves
an individual's perceptions of procedural justice, even when the
decision is unfavorable to the individual (Bies & Shapiro, 1988).
In addition, other studies have shown that employee input is related
to both procedural and interpersonal justice perceptions (Kernan &
A second antecedent to organizational justice perceptions is
organizational communication with employees. Communication has been
shown to be related to interpersonal and informational justice
perceptions (Kernan & Hanges, 2002). The quality of communication
by an organization or manager can improve justice perceptions by
improving employee perceptions of manager trustworthiness and also by
reducing feelings of uncertainty (Kernan & Hanges, 2002). It is
important that the information provided be accurate, timely, and
helpful in order for the impact on justice perceptions to be positive
(Schweiger & DeNisi, 1991).
Perceptions of organizational justice can be influenced by others,
such as co-workers and team members. Recent research suggests that
team level perceptions of justice form what is called a 'justice
climate' which can impact individuals' own views of justice (Li &
Cropanzano, 2009). Employees working within a team may share their
perceptions with one another which can lead to a shared interpretation
of the fairness of events (Roberson & Colquitt, 2005). Research
findings show that individuals can "learn" justice evaluations from
team members and these can lead to homogeneity of justice perceptions
within teams, creating a strong justice climate (Roberson &
Colquitt, 2005). Thus, group-level perceptions of justice can be
conceptualized as an antecedent to individuals' justice perceptions.
Outcomes of perceptions
Employees' perceptions of injustice within the organization can result
in a myriad of outcomes both positive and negative. Outcomes are
affected by perceptions of organizational justice as a whole or by
different factors of organizational justice. Commonly cited outcomes
affected by organizational justice include trust, performance, job
satisfaction, organizational commitment, organizational citizenship
behaviors (OCBs), counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs),
absenteeism, turnover, and emotional exhaustion.
Main article: Trust (social sciences)
The relationship between trust and organizational justice perceptions
is based on reciprocity. Trust in the organization is built from the
employee's belief that since current organizational decisions are
fair, future organizational decisions will be fair. The continuance of
employee trust in the organization and the organization continuing to
meet the employee's expectations of fairness creates the reciprocal
relationship between trust and organizational justice (DeConick,
2010). Research has found that procedural justice is the strongest
predictor of organizational trust (Hubbell & Chory-Assad, 2005;
Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001). A positive relationship between an
employee and supervisor can lead to trust in the organization
(Karriker & Williams, 2009).
Main article: Job performance
The impact of organizational justice perceptions on performance is
believed to stem from equity theory. This would suggest that when
people perceive injustice they seek to restore justice. One way that
employees restore justice is by altering their level of job
Procedural justice affects performance as a result of its
impact on employee attitudes.
Distributive justice affects performance
when efficiency and productivity are involved (Cohen-Charash &
Spector, 2001). Improving justice perceptions improves productivity
and performance (Karriker & Williams, 2009).
Job satisfaction and organizational commitment
Job satisfaction and Organizational commitment
Job satisfaction was found to be positively associated with overall
perceptions of organizational justice such that greater perceived
injustice results in lower levels of job satisfaction and greater
perceptions of justice result in higher levels of job satisfaction
(Al-Zu'bi, 2010). Additionally, organizational commitment is related
to perceptions of procedural justice such that greater perceived
injustice results in diminished commitment while greater perceived
justice results in increases commitment to the organization (DeConick,
2010; Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001).
Organizational citizenship behavior
Main article: Organizational citizenship behavior
Organizational citizenship behaviors are actions that employees take
to support the organization that go above and beyond the scope of
their job description. OCBs are related to both procedural justice
(DeConick, 2010; Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Karriker &
Williams, 2009) and distributive justice perceptions (Cohen-Charash
& Spector, 2001; Karriker & Williams, 2009). As organizational
actions and decisions are perceived as more just, employees are more
likely to engage in OCBs. Karriker and Williams (2009) established
that OCBs are directed toward either the supervisor or the
organization depending on whether the perception of just stems from
the supervisor or the organization. Additionally, a relationship was
found between interpersonal justice and OCBs; however, this
relationship was not mediated by the source of justice perceptions
(Karriker & Williams, 2009).
Counterproductive work behaviors
Main article: Counterproductive work behavior
Counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) are "intentional behaviors on
the part of an organizational member viewed by the organization as
contrary to their legitimate interests" (Gruys and Sackett, 2003,
p. 30). There are many reasons that explain why organizational
justice can affect CWBs. Increased judgments of procedural injustice,
for instance, can lead to employee unwillingness to comply with an
organization's rules (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001) because the
relationship between perceived procedural injustice and CWBs could be
mediated by perceived normative conflict, i.e., the extent to which
employees perceive conflict between the norms of their workgroup and
the rules of the organization (Zoghbi-Manrique-de-Lara &
Verano-Tacoronte, 2007). Thus, the more perceptions of procedural
injustice lead employees to perceived normative conflict, the more it
is likely that CWBs occur.
Absenteeism and withdrawal
Main article: Absenteeism
Absenteeism, or non-attendance, is another outcome of perceived
injustice related to equity theory (Johns, 2001). Failure to receive a
promotion is an example of a situation in which feelings of injustice
may result in an employee being absent from work without reason. Johns
(2001) found that when people saw both their commitment to the
organization and the organization's commitment to them as high,
absenteeism is diminished. Additionally, withdrawal, or leaving the
organization, is a more extreme outcome stemming from the same equity
Distributive justice perceptions are most strongly
related to withdrawal (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001).
Main article: Emotional exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion, which related to employee health and burnout, is
related to overall organizational justice perceptions. As perceptions
of justice increase employee health increases and burnout decreases
(Liljegren & Ekberg, 2009). Distributive, procedural, and
interactional justice perceptions are able to capture state specific
levels of emotional exhaustion which fade over time; however, overall
organizational justice perceptions give the most stable picture of the
relationship between justice perceptions and emotional exhaustion over
time (Liljegren & Ekberg, 2009).
Main article: Social determinants of health
According to Schunck et al., physical health is related to an
employee's perception of distributive justice. As the employee's
perception of earnings justice decreases, the physical health of the
Main article: Turnover (employment)
Perceptions of injustice and unfairness are significant antecedents
and determinants of turnover intention (DeConinck & Stilwell,
2004; Nadiri & Tanova, 2010). In other words, turnover intention
is a considerable outcome of an employee's fairness perceptions.
Although all three dimensions of organizational justice may play a
role in an employee’s intention to exit an organization,
interactional and distributive justice are more predictive of turnover
intention than procedural justice (Thomas & Nagalingappa, 2012).
Corporate social responsibility
Counterproductive work behavior
Perceived psychological contract violation
Perceived organizational support
Organizational citizenship behavior
Structural equation modeling
Trust (social sciences)
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Aspects of organizations
Fit in or fuck off
Kick the cat
Kiss up kick down
See also templates
Aspects of corporations
Aspects of jobs
Aspects of occupations
Aspects of workplaces
Types of justice
Social and environmental accountability
Corporate accountability / behaviour / social responsibility
Extended producer responsibility
Principles for Responsible Investment
UN Global Compact
Double bottom line
Ethical Positioning Index
Impact assessment (environmental
Genuine progress indicator
Social return on investment
Environmental full-cost accounting / impact assessment /
management system / profit-and-loss account
Pollutant release and transfer register
Sustainability accounting / measurement / metrics and
indices / standards and certification / supply chain
Toxics Release Inventory
Triple bottom line
Global Reporting Initiative
Fair trade (certification)
Community interest company
Conflict of interest
Environmental pricing reform
Environmental, social and corporate governance
Health impact assessment
Market governance mechanism
Socially responsible investing
Supply chain management
^ Schunck, Reinhard; Sauer, Carsten; Valet, Peter. "Unfair Pay and
Health: The Effects of Perceived Injustice of Earnings on Physical
Health". European Sociological Review. doi:10.1093