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Organizational Justice Essay

It has been argued that if organizational decisions and managerial actions are deemed unfair or unjust, the affected employees experience feelings of anger, outrage and resentment; There is also evidence that disgruntled employees retaliate to Organizational Injustice, directly: e.g., by theft, vandalism and sabotage or indirectly by withdrawal and resistance behavior. Engaging in socially responsible behavior has been a great concern to leaders of Today’s organizations. Here again, OB specialists have sought to explain this behavior, and their efforts will be outlined in this research.

As a subject of philosophical interest, the study of justice dates back to the times of Plato and Socrates (Ryan, 1993). However, research on organizational justice started with Adams’ work on equity theory (Adams, 1963, 1965) and has progressed steadily over time. Greenberg (1990b) explained organizational justice as a literature “grown around attempts to describe and explain the role of fairness as a consideration in the workplace. Adams’ work led to a research period concentrating on fairness of pay or outcomes at work place (Deutsch, 1985). In other words, the equity theory emphasized the perceived fairness of outcomes, i.e., distributive fairness. Equity theory is based on the notions of relative deprivation and social comparison. Individuals in organizations are expected to compare their own input to output ratio to the ratio of a referent who could be the self considered at another point of time or others in the past, present, or expected future to determine the level of fairness.

According to equity theory, when compared ratios are not equal, the individuals may perceive inequity and so may involve in behaviors meant to restore the cognitive perception of equality (they may modify their effort, or change their perceptions of inputs or outcomes). However, the focus of this research shifted to procedural justice: the perceived fairness of the process by which outcomes are determined /arrived at, because of inability of equity theory and distributive justice models to fully predict and explain peoples’ reactions to perceived injustice. This shift expanded the study of distributive justice, since research findings revealed that distribution of rewards was not always as important to individuals as the process by which
they were allocated.

Organizational justice refers to “the just and ethical treatment of individuals within an Organization” organizational justice is “the term commonly used by organizational psychologists to refer to the just and fair manner in which organizations treat their employees”. The dictionary defines the word Justice as fairness (Popular Oxford New-Age Primary School Dictionary). However, in daily life, the term justice is used to mean “oughtness” or “righteousness”. In organizational sciences research, justice is considered to be socially constructed which means that an act is considered to be just if it is perceived so by the individuals on the basis of empirical research.

Corporate Social Responsibility, the forms it takes, and the nature of the relationship between responsible behavior and financial profitability.

Corporate social responsibility refers to business practices that adhere to ethical values, that comply with legal requirements, and that promote the betterment of individuals and the community at large. It’s most popular forms include making charitable contributions to the community, preserving the environment, investing in a socially responsible manner, and promoting the welfare of employees. Generally, research shows that socially responsible companies tend to be more profitable than companies that are less socially responsible. This reflects the virtuous circle, the tendency for successful companies to be socially responsible because they can afford to do so, which in turn, helps their chances of being even more financially successful.

Organizational Justice: Fairness Matters

Suppose you received a failing grade in a course. You don’t like it, of course, but can you say that the grade is unfair? To answer this question, you would likely take several things into consideration. For example, does the grade accurately reflect how well you performed in the course? Were your scores added accurately and were they computed in an unbiased fashion? Has the professor treated you in a polite and professional fashion? Finally, has the professor communicated the grading process to you adequately? In judging how fairly you have been treated, questions such as these are likely to be raised—and your answers are likely to have a considerable impact on how you feel about your grade, the professor, and even the school as a whole.

Moreover, they are likely to have a profound effect on how you respond, such as whether you quietly accept the grade, complain about it to someone, or even quit school entirely. Although this example involves you as a student, the same considerations are likely to arise in the workplace. In that context, instead of talking about grades from professors, concerns about justice may take analogous forms. Does your salary reflect your work accomplishments?

How was your performance evaluation determined? Were you treated with dignity and respect by your boss? Were you given important job information in a thorough and timely manner? Matters such as these are relevant to organizational justice—the study of people’s perceptions of fairness in organizations. My discussion of organizational justice focuses on three key areas—the major forms of organizational justice, the relationships between these forms, and suggestions for promoting justice in organizations.

Forms of Organizational Justice and Their Effects

The idea that justice is a multifaceted concept follows from the variety of questions just raised, everything from how much you get paid to how well you are treated by your boss. Organizational justice takes the four different forms identified here. Each of these forms of justice has been found to have different effects in organizations.

Distributive Justice. On the job, people are concerned with getting their “fair share” of resources. We all want to be paid fairly for the work we do and we want to be adequately recognized for our efforts and any special contributions we bring to the job. Distributive justice is the form of organizational justice that focuses on people’s beliefs that they have received fair amounts of valued work-related outcomes (e.g., pay, recognition, etc.). For example, workers consider the formal appraisals of their performance to be fair to the extent that these ratings are based on their actual level of performance (for an example, People who believe that they have been ill-treated on the job tend to experience high levels of stress and also feel dissatisfied with their jobs and the companies in which they work. Feelings of distributive justice can have a great impact on people’s motivation to perform their jobs.) A recent study provides good insight into this process.

Researchers conducting this investigation compared two groups of workers with respect to their feelings about distributive justice: a group of local workers from Singapore and a group of foreign workers, Chinese people who worked in Singapore. In this setting, foreign workers tend not to be paid commensurate with their skills. Not surprisingly, the foreign workers expressed higher levels of distributive injustice and were less productive on their jobs. Because they received less, they did less, as distributive justice dictates. These findings are illustrative of many that demonstrate people’s keen sensitivity to their perceptions of the fairness by which resources are distributed on the job. In general, the more people believe that their rewards (e.g., pay, work assignments) are distributed in a fair manner; the more satisfied they are with them.

Procedural justice – refers to people’s perceptions of the fairness of the procedures used to determine the outcomes they receive. Again, let’s consider as an example the formal appraisals of an individual’s job performance. Workers consider such ratings to be fair to the extent that certain procedure were followed, such as when raters were believed to be familiar with their work and when they believed that the standards used to judge them were applied to everyone equally.

Interpersonal justice – People’s perceptions of the fairness of the manner in which they are treated by others (usually, authority figures). Imagine that you were just laid off from your job. You’re not happy about it, of course, but suppose that your boss explains this situation to you in a manner that takes some of the sting out of it. Although your boss cannot do anything about this high-level corporate decision, he or she is very sensitive to the harm this causes you and expresses concern for you in a highly sensitive and caring manner.

Research has shown that people experiencing situations such as this tend to accept their layoffs as being fair and hold positive feelings about their supervisors. Importantly, such individuals are less inclined to sue their former companies on the grounds of wrongful termination than those who believe they were treated in an opposite manner—that is, an insensitive and disrespectful fashion. The type of justice demonstrated in this example is known as interpersonal justice. This refers to people’s perceptions of the fairness of the manner in which they are treated by others (typically, authority figures).

Informational justice – People’s perceptions of the fairness of the information used as the basis for making a decision. Outcomes (as in the case of distributive justice), but leads them to reject the entire system as unfair. Procedural justice affects people’s tendencies to follow organizational rules: Workers are not inclined to follow an organization’s rules when they have reason to believe that its procedures are inherently unfair. And, of course, when this occurs, serious problems are likely to arise. Accordingly, everyone in an organization especially top official—would be well advised to adhere to the criteria for promoting procedural justice summarized in this research.

Informational Justice – Imagine that you are a heavy smoker of cigarettes and learn that your company has just imposed a smoking ban. Although you may recognize that it’s the right thing to do, you are unhappy about it because the ruling forces you to change your behavior and break an addictive habit. Will you accept the smoking ban as fair and do your best to go along with it? Research suggests that you will do so only under certain circumstances—if you are given clear and thorough information about the need for the smoking ban (e.g., the savings to the company and improvements to the health of employees). The form of justice illustrated in this example is known as informational justice.

This refers to people’s perceptions of the fairness of the information used as the basis for making a decision. Because detailed information was provided about the basis for implementing the smoking ban, informational justice was high, leading people to accept the fairness of the smoking ban. A key explanation for this phenomenon is that informational justice prompts feelings of being valued by others in an organization. This is known as the group-value explanation of organizational justice. The basic idea is that people believe they are considered an important part of the organization when an organizational official takes the time to explain thoroughly to them the rationale behind a decision. And people experiencing such feelings may be expected to believe that they are being treated in a fair manner.

Relationships between Various Forms of Justice

Although we have been describing the various forms of organizational justice separately, it would be misleading to assume that they are completely independent of one another. In fact, researchers have found some well-established relationships between the various forms of justice. Many different studies have reported that the relationship between outcome favorability and procedural justice takes the form summarized here. Specifically, people’s reactions to favorable outcomes are affected little by the fairness of the procedure, whereas people’s reactions to unfavorable outcomes are enhanced by the use of fair procedures.

Same would apply to other outcomes as well, such as pay or recognition on the job.) Now, imagine that your grade either was the result of a simple arithmetic error (i.e., procedural justice was low) or that it was computed in an accurate, unbiased fashion (i.e., procedural justice was high). Generally speaking, you will respond more positively to the fair procedure than the unfair procedure, thinking more favorably of the professor and the school as a whole. (of course, the analogous effect also would apply in organizations.) So far, this is nothing new. Consider, however, what happens when you combine these effects, looking at the overall relationship between the favorability of outcomes together with the fairness of procedures to arrive at those outcomes. This relationship, which takes the interactive form, has been very well established among scientists studying organizational justice.

The Preservative connection between Interpersonal Justice and Informational Justice

In contrast to the interactive relationship between distributive justice and procedural justice, the relationship between interpersonal justice and informational justice is far simpler. Research has shown that perceptions of justice are enhanced when people explain outcomes using a lot of detail (i.e., when informational justice is high) and also when people explain outcomes in a manner that demonstrates a considerable amount of dignity and respect (i.e., when interpersonal justice is high).

What happens when these effects are combined—that is, when information is presented in a manner that is both socially sensitive and highly informative? Research provides a clear answer, the effects are additive, in other words, each of these factors contributes somewhat to people’s perceptions of fairness, but together their effects are magnified. The more interpersonal justice and more informational justice is shown, the more people believe things are fair. This additive relationship between interpersonal justice and informational justice can be very valuable for supervisors to take into account when managing employees.

Strategies for Promoting Organizational Justice

Treating people fairly on the job surely is a noble objective. Although many people are concerned about being fair for its own sake, of course, there’s also a good practical reason for treating employees fairly. Specifically, individuals who believe they have been unfairly treated in any or all of the ways described respond quite negatively. We know for example, that people who feel unfairly treated are likely to do such things as work less hard, steal from their employers, do poor-quality work, or even quit their jobs altogether and then sue their former employers. Naturally, managers are likely to seek organizational justice to avoid these problems. In addition to minimizing such negative reactions managers also are likely to seek the positive reactions associated with being perceived as fair. For example, fairness has been associated with such desirable behaviors as helping one’s fellow workers and going along with organizational policies.

Additional strategies that can be used to promote organizational justice:

Promoting organizational justice can be done in several ways. First, it is important to pay workers what they deserve—the “going rate” for the work done wherever they work. Underpaying workers promotes dissatisfaction, leading to turnover. Second, workers should be given a voice—that is, some input into decisions. This may involve such strategies as holding regular meetings, conducting employee surveys, keeping an “open door policy,” and using suggestion systems.

Third, follow openly fair procedures. Specifically, promote procedural fairness such as by using unbiased, accurate information and applying decision rules consistently. Managers also should openly describe the fair procedures they are using. Fourth, managers should explain decisions thoroughly in a manner demonstrating dignity and respect. Fifth, workers should be trained to be fair, such as by adhering to the principles described in this work.


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