Organizational justice perceptions in the process of nominations to training programs.

AuthorSrimannarayana, M.


A manager who deals with his or her employees confront issues of fairness and perceived injustice in the workplace. Any decision a manager takes with respect to the employees is subjected to scrutiny of employees in terms of fairness of the outcomes they receive, be it workload distribution, performance evaluation, nominations for training programs, promotions, transfers, disciplinary actions, grievance handling, pay related matters or any employee benefits and services. Therefore, justice perception of employees has become increasingly visible in human resource management research. There is research work undertaken to explain the impact of justice on organizational functioning under the concept of organizational justice (Greenberg, 1990). It is an effective tool to reduce the feelings of uncertainty and alleviate the level of discomfort (Thau et al., 2007; Judge & Cloquitt, 2004). Initial focus of researchers (Adams, 1965; Deutsch, 1975; Leventhal, 1976) is on distributive justice. Gradually the research moved to procedural justice (Leventhal, 1980) and then interactional justice (Bies & Moag, 1986).This paper attempts to find out organizational justice perceptions of employees in the process of their nominations to various training programs.

Literature Review

Organizational justice refers to employees' perceptions of fairness in organizations. It describes the individual's (or group's) perception of the fairness of treatment received from an organization and their behavioral reaction to such perceptions (James, 1993). These perceptions are increasingly being viewed as having both a cognitive and an affective component. They describe and explain the role of fairness as a consideration in the workplace. Fairness has been demonstrated to have effects on various attitudinal and behavioral outcomes (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt et al., 2001). Perceptions of unfair treatment lead to lower job performance (Greenberg, 1988), lower morale, higher turnover (Pfeffer & Davis-Blake, 1992), and greater retaliatory behavior towards the organization (Greenberg, 1990). Perceptions of fair treatment, in contrast, lead to higher satisfaction and commitment, reduced intention to quit, and increased the nature of helping behavior in organizations (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt et al, 2001).

Organizational justice has taken many forms over the years. Greenberg (1993) has developed a taxonomy that has proven empirically sound and highly useful. Part of Greenberg's taxonomy categorizes organizational justice into "structural justice" and "social justice". Structural justice refers to the employees' involvement in the decision-making process and the employer provides a fair distribution of outcomes; whereas social justice refers to the employees perceiving that the organization shares information openly with them, and they believe that the employer cares about their welfare. The structural and social justice distinction incorporates both distributive and procedural justice (Folger & Konovsky, 1989). It also adds an important element of interpersonal interaction--how people are treated on an interpersonal level when an organization institutes its policies and procedures (Bies & Moag, 1986). Organizational justice is rooted in the social exchange theory that assumes that social relationships are considered as exchange processes in which employees make contributions against which outcomes are expected; and that employees estimate the fairness of these exchanges based on the information they get through social interactions (Mowday, 1991). Organizational justice is viewed from three dimensions, namely: distributive justice, procedural justice, and interactional justice. The dimension, interactional justice is made up of two components: interpersonal justice and informational justice (Greenberg, 1993).

Distributive Justice: Before 1975, the study of justice was primarily concerned with distributive justice (Colquitt et al, 2001). Much of this research is based on Adams (1965) social exchange theory framework. Adam's theory proposes the use of an equity rule to determine fairness. Gradually many other allocation rules have also been identified. Distributive justice refers to the perceived fairness of the amount of outcome employees receive (Greenberg, 1990). It is a reflection of how valuable rewards, benefits and compensation (Chou, 2009; Clay- Warner et al., 2005; Folger & Konovsky, 1989) are present in organizations. Employees determine the fairness of distributed outcomes by comparing their own outcomes with those of other employees. When employees receive organizational outcomes, they use principles of distributive justice such as equity (outcomes allocated based on inputs such as effort) or equality (outcomes allocated equally to all regardless of inputs) to establish the justice or injustice of the outcome.

Procedural Justice: Thibaut & Walker (1975) introduced the concept of procedural justice primarily focusing on disputant reactions to legal procedures. Leventhal (1980) extended this concept to organizational setting. This concept relates to an employee's judgment about the fairness of the process of making outcome allocation decisions (Greenberg, 1990). It focuses on the process that leads to the results. A number of procedural justice criterion has been outlined such as opportunities for control of the process and the outcomes, ability to voice one's point of view, and the use of accurate information following ethical norms and lack of bias. The four-component model highlights two types of procedural justice, namely, quality of the decision-making process, quality of treatment and sources of justice such as formal official rules and procedures, and informal sources, namely, experiences people have with the specific authorities who manage their work lives (Blader& Tyler, 2003).

Interactional Justice: Bies & Moag (1986) introduced the concept of interactional justice. It is a unique perception of fairness in the interpersonal treatment of employees by an organization. It is concerned with how individuals in charge of allocating resources and rewards in the workplace behave towards the recipients (Chou, 2009). Interactional justice is the quality of treatment that the employee receives inside the workplace. It is most likely to occur when decision makers (a) treat individuals with interpersonal dignity (Bies & Moag, 1986) and (b) provide subordinates with justifications or explanations (Bies, 1989; Shapiro, 1994; Sitkin & Bies, 1993).

When compared to distributive justice and procedural justice, interactional justice is an especially efficacious predictor of reactions to supervisors and to the immediate work environment (Masterson et. al., 2000). It consists of two specific types of interpersonal treatment (Greenberg, 1990; 1993). The first one is named as interpersonal justice, which reflects the degree to which people are treated with politeness, dignity and respect by the authority in executing procedures or determining outcomes. The second one is informational justice. It focuses on the explanations provided to employees that convey information about why procedures are used in a certain way, or outcomes that are distributed in a certain fashion. It is concerned with the perception of fairness based on the clarification of performance expectations, feedback received and justification of decisions. Distributive and procedural justice involves daily encounters between leaders and subordinates. These occur regardless of any resource-allocation decisions being made, whereas interpersonal and informational justice is closely bound in the context of resource exchanges (Bies, 2005). Interpersonal justice and informational justice are usually given by leaders as discretion to their subordinates. Their perception of justice reflects whether the leaders have followed or violated the rules of justice (Folger, 2001; Scott et al., 2009).

Measuring Organizational Justice

Many measurement efforts are plagued by measures that attempt to assess one type of justice, but that is seen more applicable to another (Greenberg, 1993). Thus there is confusion about measuring all dimensions of organizational justice. There is little attention devoted to constancy of measurement (Lind & Tyler, 1988). A sure sign of the immaturity of the field of organizational justice is the lack of a standardized instrument with which to measure justice perceptions (Greenberg, 1993). Having reviewed the situation with respect to justice measurement, Colquitt (2001) created and validated a measure. He has investigated the theoretical dimensionality of organizational justice and generated items by following the seminal works in this field. He has compared multiple priori factor structures, including one-factor, two-factor, three-factor and four-factor conceptualizations of organizational justice. The measure consisted of items to measure procedural justice (Thibaut & Walker, 1975; Leventhal, 1980), distributive justice (Leventhal, 1976), interpersonal justice (Bies & Moag, 1986) and informational justice (Bies & Moag, 1986...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT