Research Paper Example on Organizational Justice

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Research on organizational justice began during Socrates and Plato’s era (Colquitt, et al., 2001). Organizational justice explains and describes the starring role of fairness in a working environment. Colquitt (2001) works mostly concentrated on the fairness of payment at working places. The ethical and just treatment is referred to as organizational justice (Colquitt, et al., 2001). Organizational justice is commonly used by psychologists to mean the fairway in which companies treat their workers (Colquitt, et al., 2001). The word justice is defined as fairness by the Oxford Dictionary. However, the term justice in daily life means righteousness or oughtness (Colquitt, et al., 2001). Justice is considered in organizational research as socially constructed, meaning an action is seen to be fair if it is founded on empirical studies (Colquitt, et al., 2001). In social psychological research, fairness is an event, decision, or action and an attitudinal concept that is unfair or fair based on personal beliefs and perception of the decision (Colquitt, et al., 2001). Justice in an organizational environment focuses on consequences and antecedents that determine fairness. This is seen to be procedural justice extension and is linked to the human side of the practices in an organization.

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Organizational Justice Theories

What Is Equity Theory?

Equity theory of organizational justice is perceived as distributive outcomes i.e. fairness of outcomes. The theory is founded on the perceptions social comparison and relative deprivation (Colquitt, et al., 2001). It generally refers to individuals’ perceptions based on fairness they get about outcomes and contributions of other individuals (Colquitt, et al., 2001). The theory’s primary focus is on performance appraisal and pay. However, People are expected to measure their input to output ratio to referent ratio to determine the fairness ratio (Jason, 2001). Equity theory describes that whenever compared ratios are not the same, employees may feel inequality which may lead to behaviors used to reestablish the perception of equality. Some studies link distributive justice to equity theories predictions, consistent with performance (Colquitt, et al., 2001). When people perceive inequality, they change and modify their effort and perception of inputs.

Social Exchange Theory

Justifications for extra-role behavior involve social exchange theory, where there are exchange behaviors for proper organizational treatment (Masterson, Lewis, et. al., 2000). Masterson, Lewis, et al. (2000) showed that interactional and procedural justice affects other variables via different intervention mechanisms using social exchange theory. Precisely, procedural justice altered the perceptions of organizational support while interactional justice altered perceptions of leader-member exchange (Tepper, Duffy, Henle, & Lambert, 2006; Masterson, Lewis, et. al., 2000). Adams used the framework of social exchange theory to appraise fairness (Colquitt, et al., 2001). He described that individuals are never worried about the level of their outcomes, but are ever concerned about the outcomes of such fairness. To determine fairness, his calculation of inputs to an individual’s outcome and comparing it with others appeared relevant.

Masterson, Lewis, et. al., 2000, argued that people draw on informational and interpersonal perceptions when reacting towards authority figures like supervisors and bosses (Masterson, Lewis, Goldman, & Taylor, 2000). He drew on perceptions of procedural justice when reacting to the entire organization. Based on this work Masterson, Lewis et. al. (2000) used social exchange theory to reason that people in organizations were engaged in different exchange relationships.

What is Control Theory and Group Value Model?

Control theory states that people in an organization usually want to control the thing happening to them. Procedures that are fair enable people to control over incomes. The group Value model, however, argues that people only want to be valuable group members, and procedures that are fair are desirable as they depict that the people are valued. The group value model also shows that employees do not only focus on procedural fairness on the outcomes of an organization show how they value their group members. Within working relationships, members of a group are concerned with social status and trust in the group (Colquitt, et al., 2001). Thus, the perceived fairness makes a group less likely to undergo opposite reactions. However, if the procedures are unfair counterproductive results are more likely to occur.

The Key Implications for Management Practice

Studies have shown that essential organizational justice work outcome relationship. The implications of injustice perceptions and positive justice perceptions on employees have been determined by many including Cropanzano, Goldman, & Folger, 2003. For instance, studies have indicated a positive relationship between organizational relationship and communal esteem, rule compliance, group commitment, and satisfaction (Colquitt, et al., 2001; Cropanzano, Goldman, & Folger, 2003)whereas organizational justice is seen to be linked to anger and aggression positively (Colquitt, et al., 2001. Cropanzano, Goldman, & Folger, 2003). The perception of a negative outcome is important in organizational studies. Whenever management actions and decisions are considered to be unjust or unfair, they undergo resentment, outrage, and feelings of anger (Cropanzano, Goldman, & Folger, 2003).

Employees who are affected not only experience resentment, outrage, and feelings of anger, they also retaliate.

According to Colquitt, et al., 2001, an employee who feels treated unfairly may punish the people seen as liable for that treatment. It is also reported that vandalism is begun with feelings of unjust treatment shown by authorities that are a form of inequality reduction (Masterson, Lewis, Goldman, & Taylor, 2000). Moreover, Tepper, Duffy, Henle, & Lambert, 2006 suggested that whenever employees who are affected are not as powerful as the source of the perceived injustice, retaliation will surely be direct. Perceived fairness leads to absenteeism, and discontented employees may be involved in a more concealed form of revenge before restoring to vengeance (Tepper, Duffy, Henle, & Lambert, 2006). Cropanzano, Goldman, & Folger, 2003) associated negative emotions and workplace conflict with injustice. An employee can change the quantity or quality of work to restore fairness of justice. Cohen-Cherish & Spector, 2001 showed a negative correlation between performance and procedural justice while Colquitt, et al..2001 found the correlation to be less strong when measured by performance appraisal accounts.

Moreover, Cropanzano, Goldman, & Folger, 2003 and Folger & Konovsky, 1989 demonstrated a positive correlation between performance and procedural justice, however other studies have never found such correlation. Therefore, job performance need not be correlated to procedural justice. Furthermore, Masterson, Lewis, et al. (2000) revealed procedural justice to envisage job satisfaction to be strong than interactional justice, though both had important independent implications. Though both procedural and distributive Justice is significant predictors of attitudes in the working environment, research shows that procedural justice clarifies a better amount of the modification in organizational commitment. Thus, procedural justice is more important in calculating attitudes including commitment. Emotional commitment, as an outcome of an organization, is normally expected to be linked mainly with procedural justice instead of distributive justice (Cropanzano, Goldman, & Folger, 2003 and Folger & Konovsky, 1989).


Justice is a basis of a civilized society. It involves the principles of need, equality, and equity in different social justice issues. Justice appeals to the perception that a treatment fair helps in giving individuals their rights and the things they deserve. Individuals need to be rewarded for their productivity and effort and treated as equals. Justice ensures actions that bring reliable, consistent, and unbiased decisions. As long as the principles of justice are applied well societies and organizations will be more stable, and their employees will feel more secure and satisfied.

The importance of organizational justice is seen in the increasing knowledge of perceptions of fairness at work. The importance of treating workers fairly has been shown by studies performed in pay cuts, drug testing, and layoffs in both field settings and laboratories. Is consistently seen that perceptions of justice and fairness is linked to work and behaviors and attitudes like performance, satisfaction employee theft, organizational commitment, turnover intentions, and OCB. Besides, perceptions are correlated to many implications like organizational commitment, work performance, OCBs, trust in management, and organization. However, injustice practices may result in feelings of betrayal and anger. Due to unfair treatment. Workers engage in unproductive behaviors and turnover. Justice and fairness perceptions are also correlated with behaviors and attitudes, for example, positive outcomes of fairness demonstrate increased positivity among employees. Therefore, the principle of fairness is an essential rule for HR practitioners in an organization.


Cohen-Charash, Y., & Spector, P. E. (2001). The Role of Justice in Organizations: A Meta-Analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 278321.

Colquitt, J. A., Wesson, M. J., Porter, C. O., Conlon, D. E., Ng, K. Y., & Conlon, D. E. (2001). Justice at the Millennium: A Meta-Analytic Review of 25 Years of. A journal Of Applied Psychology, 425-445.

Cropanzano, R., Goldman, B., & Folger, R. (2003). Deontic justice: the role of moral principles in workplace fairness. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 1019.

Folger, R., & Konovsky, M. A. (1989). Effects Of Procedural And Distributive Justice On Reactions. Academy of Management Journal, 115.

Jason, C. (2001). On the Dimensionality of Organizational Justice: Journal of Applied Psychology, 386-400.

Masterson, Lewis, Goldman, & Taylor. (2000). Integrating justice and social exchange: The differing effects of fair. Academy of Management Journal, 738-748.

Tepper, B. J., Duffy, M. K., Henle, C. A., & Lambert, L. S. (2006). PROCEDURAL INJUSTICE, VICTIM PRECIPITATION, AND ABUSIVE SUPERVISION. Personnel Psychology, 101.

Yang, J., Mossholder, K. W., & Peng, T. K. (2007). Procedural justice climate and group power distance: An examination of cross-level interaction effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92: 681-692.

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