Organizational Justice: An Analysis of Approaches, Dimensions and Outcomes


Lalit Kumar Yadav and Nagendra Yadav


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.

Literature Review

As early as 1949, Fayol, in his classic book ‘General and Industrial Management’ (Fayol, 1949) mentions justice when talking about “authority and responsibility”. He pointed out that “the need for sanction has its origin in a sense of justice” (Fayol, 1949, page 21). Equity forms one of the 14 principles of management outlined by Fayol (1949). Reference to involving individuals to solve conflicts in organizations is a direct assertion of interactional fairness in Follett’s (1949) work.

Organizational justice refers to “the just and ethical treatment of individuals within an organization” (Cropanzano, 1993). According to Greenberg (1990b), organizational justice is “the term commonly used by organizational psychologists to refer to the just and fair manner in which organizations treat their employees.” Byrne and Cropanzano (2001) see it as “the psychology of justice applied to organizational settings.” According to Fortin (2008), organizational justice helps in understanding how employees associated themselves with the complexity and multiplicity of employment relationships. Organizational sciences view justice as socially constructed, meaning an act by the organization is taken as just only if the individual perceives so on the basis of empirical research (Cropanzano & Greenberg, 1997). Proclaiming a transaction as “just” means that it is in line with basic standards of appropriate or ethical conduct (Cropanzano et al., 2002).

Early studies on organizational justice were directed towards two broad issues: employees’ perception of what they receive (outcomes) and the process which led to these outcomes (procedures) (Cropanzano & Greenberg, 1997). Distributive justice, as defined by Greenberg (1990), is a perception of fairness regarding resource allocation, based upon input and output considerations. It is largely based on work by Adams (1965). Procedural justice emerged from the seminal work by Thibaut and Walker (1975). Procedures adopted should be fair in coming to any outcome (Leventhal, 1980), and employees should have some ‘voice’ and ‘control’ over the process (Lind et Tyler, 1988). The period of the late 1980s saw justice research highlighting the “social side of fairness” (Bies & Moag, 1986; Greenberg, 1993). Interactional justice was introduced as a third dimension of justice, having two facets. Interpersonal dimension evoked the elements of respect and dignity, while the informational dimension catered to transparency and openness (Greenberg, 1993).


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