Organizational justice is identified as one of the core values of an organization. Over the years, research has confirmed that justice in an organization is a subjective term; what is important is employees’ perception of what is just or unjust. Employees have high expectations from organizations in terms of fairness in both, the distribution of resources and the procedure adopted. Employees even adjust to some aberrations if the organization exhibits trust, is honest and extends respect and dignity to employees. The paper discusses at length the reasons that make justice critical to employees. The various dimensions of organizational justice: distributive, procedural and interactional are discussed, and how they are related to each other. In the latter part of the paper, the consequences of organizational justice are examined and how they influence individuals and organizations. A theoretical conceptual model is proposed and some hypotheses are also laid out. The authors assert the inevitability of fairness for long term sustainability of organizations.
Managerial implications, limitations and future course for research are also suggested.
Key Words: Organizational justice, dimensions of justice, approaches to fairness, justice outcomes
Homans (1961) first proposed the concept of organizational justice as distributive justice. This was followed by social scientists focussing their gaze on this very core aspect of human behaviour. Justice became relevant in organizational behaviour research after scholars like Blau (1964) and Adams (1965) produced their influential works.
“Justice keeps people together whereas injustice can pull them apart” (Folger and Cropanzano, 1998, p. xii).
Studies on justice perceptions are a critical area of research in organizational behaviour because of its association with pertinent individual and
organizational outcomes (Cohen-Charash and Spector, 2001).
Justice has been placed at the pinnacle of organizational values by Rawls (1971) when he referred to it as the “first virtue of social organizations”. Similarly Barnard (1938), a legendary name in early management literature, asserted that fairness was an essential principle of cooperative action in organizations.
Business organizations are usually thought of as economic institutions. Implicitly and explicitly, this “logical” perspective has forged the relationship between employers and their workforce (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1995).
Cropanzano et al., (2007) argue that though businesses definitely are economic institutions, they are also more than that. Understanding of business organisations as merely commercial entities without consideration of other possibilities may tend to develop problematic side effects. They explain that along with economic processes, we should have a sense of obligation that is not restrictive to constricted quid pro quo exchanges. It incorporates the moral duty that both have towards each other. While employees are looking for various benefits, they are also seeking something beyond. The authors assert that organizational justice, described by them as employees’ perception of the moral decorum of how they are managed, is the “glue” that motivates people to work together effectively. Justice exemplifies the basis of individuals’ relationship to employers.
Alternatively, injustice corrodes the bonding within the community; it is painful to individuals and damaging to organizations.
Cropanzano et al., (2007) argue that managerial scientists studying organizations are less interested in knowing what is just but care about employees’ perception of what is just. They are also interested in why people view specific actions as just, and the after effect that follows from these assessments. It is very important to understand that in this context, justice is a subjective and descriptive concept, which tries to capture individuals’ belief about right and wrong, and is not an objective reality. So, organizational justice is an individual’s interpretation of actions, processes and structure within an organization. It is therefore essential to know the employees’ perspective before structuring justice mechanisms in the organization.
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Lalit Kumar Yadav is a senior lecturer in Institute of Productivity & Management, Lucknow. He is pursuing his doctorate from a state university and is UGC-NET qualified. His teaching areas include human resource management, organizational behaviour and general management.
He has presented papers in national and international conferences and has contributed articles and papers to many academic journals. He has undertaken many training assignments and is a certified trainer from Indian Society for Training and Development (ISTD), New Delhi. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Nagendra Yadav, Professor & Head, Department of Management, DSM National Rehabilitation University,
Lucknow is a Ph.D. from MGKVP, Varanasi. He has a total academic and industrial experience of about 17 years from Hoechst Schering AgrEVO, MJPRU Bareilly, LBSIMT Bareilly, SMS Varanasi and URTOU Allahabad.
He has published about 28 research papers/ articles in international and national level publications. He has authored various self-learning materials for different state/ central universities.
He has been member of various elite bodies at different universities, visiting faculty to various government and private academic institutions in different states. He has organized various national level conferences/ workshops. He has given consultancy to government and private institutions. He can be reached at