The individuals perception of fairness

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.


Organizational justice studies the individual's perception of fairness (Greenberg, 1987). The three core dimensions of justice are distributive, procedural and interactional. Distributive justice pertains to the fairness of payoffs. The norms of distributive justice are equality, equity and need (Leventhal G. , 1976). Procedural justice is the fairness of the means to decide the ends (Leventhal G. , 1976) and interactional justice pertains to the fairness of how authorities execute their decision. (Bies, 2001). Managers evaluate the importance of organization justice on three levels: individual, team and organization. Individually, it promotes ethical behaviour and provides an accurate assessment of the employee's value and future. On the team/organization level, it improves cohesiveness, motivates employees to display good citizenship behaviour and fosters excellent customer relationships leading to an increase in profits.

Main Issue

The five-workplace practices demonstrate that distributive injustice is highly probable. However, managers can alleviate the negative implications by establishing procedural and interactional justice. In addition, the article provides explanations for the possible theoretical conflicts and proposes new recommendations, hence increasing the viability of implementation.

Fairness Heuristic & Fairness Theory

The article fails to highlight that the individual's justice process would influence the outcomes of organizational justice. The fairness heuristic theory and fairness theory focus on issues that are central to the individual's justice judgement process. The fairness theory states that any negative action will trigger the justice process and the counterfactuals, which are stimulated events contrary to facts, would influence the individual's reactions to the negative action. The (would) counterfactuals compares the current well-being with other states, (could) counterfactual assess the possibility of other feasible behaviour and the (should) counterfactual compares the authority actions against prevailing moral standards (Greenberg, 2003). Therefore, managers who fail to address all three counterfactuals would create an injustice. In addition, the fairness heuristic theory states that any doubts over the honesty of authorities will also spark off the judgement process. Therefore, managers need to understand the central issues that initiate the judgement process and introduce pre-emptive measures to prevent its occurrence. This help to develop a just organization, which will enhance employees' loyalty and trust.

Justice Moderation Framework

The article assumes that employees would have similar perceptions and reactions to fairness. However, the presence of individual and contextual factors will affect the justice decision. The Justice Moderation framework has two aspects: Justice Expectations and Justice Sensitivity. Justice Expectations moderators are variables affecting the expectations of the degree and the meaning of justice (Greenberg, 2003). Personality, gender, culture and societal norms play a crucial role in shaping the justice expectations. Employees with strong internal locus of control would react more negatively towards any unjust practices in organizations. Similarly, employees in cultures of low power distance would expect a higher level of procedural and interactional justice. Justice sensitivity Moderators are variables that make concerns and reactions to justice more salient and severe (Greenberg, 2003). Uncertainty and trustworthiness of authority and the individual's equity sensitivity, negative affectively and agreeableness are factors, which influences the justice sensitivity. Individuals displaying high levels of agreeableness and low uncertainty will react less negatively towards any injustice. Managers, who understand the societal considerations and their employee's psyche, can implement effective policies to cope with it, increasing their employees' motivation and job performance.

Further Assumptions

The article fails to consider the demographic context- the education level, gender and job status on the individual's perception of fairness. Women illustrate the impact of gender differences by preferring equality as compared to the males' preference for equity. Organizations can achieve greater commitment by focusing on procedural/distributive justice for the females and males respectively. Furthermore, educated individuals' expect fair practices and display stronger responses towards injustices as compared to less educated individuals. Therefore, managers who appreciate the demographic factors can foster stronger identification and commitment towards the organization.

The article assumes that all organizations possess the capabilities to implement the proposed recommendations. However, managers of smaller firms may not implement all aspects of organizational justice such as new screening procedures due to the cost of implementation. Managers would have to calculate the possibility of additional profits and weigh the cost and benefits before implementation.

The article also does not discuss about the identity that employees have towards their organizations. A strong identification motivates employees, improving job performance and partially reduces certain negative effects of injustices.

Assessment of Evidence

Experts in the field conduct research and experiments for example (McFarlin, 1992) that supports the argument that procedural and interactional justice is crucial in alleviating the negative implications of an injustice. In addition, the two-factor model further supports the argument. It states that procedural and informational justice will influence system related outcomes such as organizational commitment and trust, whereas distributive justice will influence person-related outcomes such as pay satisfaction (Ambrose, 2001). While distributive injustice leads to pay dissatisfaction, procedural and interactional justice will promote the maintenance of employees' drive and enthusiasm. This reduces the possibility of any retaliatory behaviour would be de-stabilizing for organizations.

The article claims that there are strong evidence to highlight negative consequences of an injustice such as retaliatory behaviour, lower motivation and poor performance. However, the claim was unsupported. Another unsupported claim was the implications of distributive injustice leading to employee theft and workplace sabotage. The article should have provided statistics e.g., there were 225,000 to 300,000 of workplace violence in the US (J.L.Robinson). The inclusion of such statistics would send a more convincing alert to jolt managers into action.


In conclusion, the article supports the point that procedural and interactional justice could partially alleviate certain negative effects of distributive injustice. However, it should only be a short-term measure for organizations as employees who experience long-term distributive injustice will be unmotivated and counter-productive. Hence, managers should ensure that all three forms of justice are present, as it would retain and attract the best talents in the workforce. Lastly, managers must appreciate the individual, contextual and demographic factors as it influences the decision process of individuals. The creation of a just organization will give them a strong competitive advantage over their competitors, ensuring long-term profitability for the organization.