Justice perceptions, organizational citizenship behavior, intention to quit & affective commitment.

AuthorBiswas, Soumendu


Research in organizational behavior has long argued that organizational justice is an important explanatory construct of work attitudes and behavior (Cropanzano, Byrne, Bobocel & Rupp, 2000). This has led to investigations regarding applications of justice interventions to advance organizational effectiveness. The validity of such interventions is corroborated by meta-analytic findings linking justice perceptions to employees' behaviors and performance at work (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter & Ng, 2001). Indeed, past studies have called for further research into the processes through which justice perceptions influence work attitudes and behaviors (Cropanzano, et al., 2000). According to one of the process theories namely, the fairness heuristic theory (Lind, 2001; Van den Bos, Lind & Wilke, 2001), employees react to a global assessment of organizational justice and this is reflected in processes and attitudes such as organizational commitment, trust, turnover, and job satisfaction (Jones & Martens, 2009; Li & Cropanzano, 2009). Additionally, two other theoretical perspectives that is, the social exchange theory (SET) and the organizational support theory (OST) have suggested an interrelationship between employees' observations regarding organizational justice and the extent to which they are socio-emotionally attached to their organizations (Dailey & Kirk, 1992). When employees view organizational decision-making procedures to be accurate, consistent, unbiased, and correctable, they are more likely to believe that the organizational system follows processes that meet the justice criteria (Colquitt, Scott, Judge & Shaw, 2006; Leventhal, Karuza & Fry, 1980). Furthermore, studies have also found that the procedural justice dimension of organizational justice has a significant relationship with attitudinal and behavioral reactions of employees (Colquitt, 2001).

Thus, the objectives of the present study are three-fold. First, by incorporating affective commitment as a mediator, an attempt is made to provide explanations to the processes that govern the linkages between justice perceptions and behavioral and procedural work outcomes such as OCBs and intention to quit. Next, by including affective commitment as a mediator in the proposed model, an essential addition is made to published research that has mostly examined affective commitment as a critical outcome variable. Finally, this study explores the generalizability of western theoretical frameworks in a non-western context by using a sample of practicing managers and executives from India.

Distributive & Procedural Justice

According to Greenberg and Colquitt (2005), distributive justice refers to an employee's perceptions regarding the fairness or equity of outcome allocation. That is, it deals with the anticipated parity in apportionment of rewards and benefits and it has the potential to have important consequences in the organizational context.

Clearly, accumulated evidence suggests that justice perceptions influence a variety of an individual's behavior and attitudes towards his/her organization (Leow & Khong, 2009). Further, it has been observed that distributive justice may be a significant predictor of employees' OCBs because if employees believe outcomes to be unfair, then even if there is procedural fairness, the overall perceptions of equity and justice shall be undermined leading to employees' withdrawal from undertaking prosocial activities (Johnson, Holladay & Quinones, 2009). In this connection, studies related to the linkage between justice perceptions and intention to quit, have consistently demonstrated a negative relationship between the two constructs (Loi, et al., 2006). Based upon the Referent Cognitions Theory (RCT) which argues that outcomes (distributive justice) and procedures (procedural justice) co-exist in predicting a sense of overall justice or injustice. Folger and Cropanzano (1998) noted that when there is distributive injustice, it usually implies a mismatch between the individuals' input and his/her return of outcomes. Thus, employees may choose to leave their jobs in order to end their perceived inequity (Hendrix, Robbins, Miller & Summers, 1998). This argument confirms the findings of Fields, Pang, and Chiu (2000) who reported a significant relationship between employees' perceptions of distributive justice and their intention to stay. As such, it is proposed that:

Hypothesis 1: Distributive justice will be significantly and positively related to affective organizational commitment.

To continue, while distributive justice is mainly concerned with instrumental responses, procedural justice comprises instrumental as well as non-instrumental components (Robbins, Summers, Miller & Hendrix, 2000). It has been indicated that when employees perceive procedural justice, they are likely to reciprocate with OCBs as these contributions are less likely to be hindered by situational factors (Tepper & Taylor, 2003). Additionally, when employees consider organizational rules and practices to be fair and ethical, they are more prone to demonstrate pro-social behaviors as it suggests to them that they are valued and cared for (Lund, Kulik, Ambrose & DeVera, 1993). As such, their positive perceptions of procedural justice shall encourage them to engage in OCBs (Mohammad, Habib & Alias, 2010). In this connection, affective commitment has been consistently highlighted as a key construct in the literature, either as a consequence of procedural justice or as an antecedent of OCBs (Flaherty & Pappas, 2000; Malatesta & Byrne, 1997; Rhoades, Eisenberger & Armeli, 2001; Spector & Fox, 2002; Zellars, Liu, Bratton, Brymer & Perrewe, 2004). Therefore, it was decided to examine its role as a mediator in the link between procedural justice and OCBs. Moreover, it has been found that cognitive assessment by an employee regarding his/her relationship with the organization is based on procedural fairness at work (Rousseau, 1995). As such, when individuals identify unfair procedures and treatment, it results in feelings of anger and frustration (Morrison & Robinson, 1997). This leads to negative attitudinal and behavioral outcomes including reduced job satisfaction and enhanced intention to quit (Kickul, Lester & Finkl, 2002). As per the above discussion, it is proposed that:

Hypothesis 2. Procedural organizational justice will be significantly and positively related to affective organizational commitment.

Affective Commitment, OCBs & Intention to Quit

In connection with the discussion above, it has also been suggested that affectively-committed employees shall engage in OCBs based on their intrinsic motivation and their self-concept levels that are central to their self-regulatory processes (Lord & Brown, 2004; Meyer, Becker & Vandenberghe, 2004). Based on the preceding discussion, the following hypothesis is proposed:

Hypothesis 3: An employee's affective commitment will have significant positive relationships with his/her OCBs.

In this connection, another proposition linking affective organizational commitment negatively to actual or intended turnover is based upon intrinsic motivation that is, employees'...

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