Justice in Modern Organizations Term Paper

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Justice in Modern Organizations

Organizational Justice Book Review: concepts, theories, practice, and evaluations of justice in modern organizations

Greenberg, Gerald S. & Jason Colquitt. The Handbook of Organizational Justice.

Mahwah, NJ. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005.

The concept of justice is at least as old as the ancient Greeks, if not older, but the ideals and ideas behind the field of modern organizational justice theory are relatively new to the world. The Handbook of Organizational Justice attempts to provide clarity to the field of organizational studies. It also strives to provide a more concrete definition of organizational justice for managers and management theorists alike. Rather than offering a singular viewpoint, the book is a compilation of often dissenting views of the definition of organizational justice, and underlines the contentious nature of core managerial concepts, rather than strives to clarify them.

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The editors of the Handbook of Organizational Justice, Gerald S. Greenberg & Jason Colquitt, are themselves leading writers in the field. They bring together the leading scholars of organizational theory to author self-enclosed chapters that examine major issues of concern, as well as target areas of future debate. They authors provide a framework and background, without striving to provide a coherent, linear point-of-view. To do so would be impossible in a handbook encompassing twenty chapters, an introduction and conclusion, almost all of which are authored by different scholars. The chapters are self-enclosed, to make it easier to target the reader or researcher's major area of interest.

Term Paper on Justice in Modern Organizations Assignment

The first chapter written by the editors and asks: "What is organizational justice?" And provides an historical review of the development of the field of organizational justice, including the concepts of distributive, procedural justice, interactional and interpersonal and/or informational justice that will occur and reoccur in the more specific essays of the book. According to the essay's authors, distributive justice focuses on fairly distributing rewards to employees, and attempts to discern employee's perceptions about the way rewards are allocated. This stands in contrast (or in consort, depending on one's philosophical orientation) to procedural justice which focuses on creating fair processes to administer justice within an organization. The philosophy of procedural justice suggests that if employees feel they are being treated equitably by organizational structures, they will more agreeably accept decisions regarding, for example, salaries and performance reviews.

Interactional justice suggests that employees, for example, in a conflict, are more apt to be concerned that there is no favoritism and want to know if they are having a conflict with another employee, they will be treated fairly, without regard to race, gender, class, or even seniority. Fair procedures seem to have little value if they are not implemented fairly by good managers, thus distributive and interactional justice is often seen as interrelated. Interactional justice has an interpersonal component, as it examines way employees are treated, as well as contains an informational component. In other words, it is not enough to treat everyone fairly, the employees must also understand why decisions are fair, in a way that is clearly explained to them by the decision-makers.

This introductory discussion chapter highlights the fact that how to improve employee perceptions of justice is the critical preoccupations of the field of organizational justice, not just how to render fair decisions in an abstract fashion. Without a perception of fairness, employee morale will invariably decline. Beyond this agreement amongst researchers, there is a great deal of controversy about as to what element of organizational justice is more crucial and if these elements are in fact distinct, although collective and individual organizational perception is always the focus.

In the essays immediately following the instruction these definitional controversies are explored in greater depth. The first essay, in the first substantive section of the book, argues that the process or procedural element of justice and the distributive aspect of the way rewards are allocated are unique, but cannot be separated in the real world or analyzed in an enclosed fashion. What use is a fair procedure, if everyone is equally dissatisfied with the distributive results? Maximizing overall fairness, rather than focusing on a typology of justice types, the authors argue, is more useful.

The next chapter applies the same construct to analyzing informational and interpersonal justice. It argues these ideas cannot really be analyzed independently, even if they are different concepts. Employees must be informed as to why and how a decision is fairly, to perceive an organization as fair, as well as feel they are to going to be treated fairly as human beings. Research in the future, the article concludes, is necessary to show how to fuse procedural and the two elements of interactional justice, interpersonal, and informational justice together. Procedures must be fair, the way employees are treated must be equitable, and employees must understand and 'feel' that this is the case. This first section concludes with discussion the difficulties of empirically measuring employee perceptions and absolute justice within an organization.

The next section deals with psychological perceptions of justice, such as the need for belonging, the degree to which self-interest plays a role in employee perceptions of organization justice, and how to foster a sense of moral accountability within an economically-driven organization. Again, the authors cite areas of further research, specifically the need to research concepts of justice in non-Western organizations. Although psychology is the focus, it is with a quantitative, organizational policy slant, rather than upon individual case studies or anecdotes.

The following section is concerned with the implications of fair treatment in the workforce. One interesting idea is the 'uncertainty' effect, or the fact that if outcomes of procedures seem uncertain, employees are more likely to see them as fair. If one employee is a noted favorite, for example, and seems to be invariably treated well, or if senior employees are treated with 'kid gloves' then employee perceptions of fairness will be low. But the articles also suggest that despite human being's innate self-interests, employees are able to perceive and appreciate a sense of universal standard of fairness beyond their own egocentric worldview.

Chapters in the fourth section examine how certain groups of employees might attach a greater importance to organizational fairness, or that a sense of fairness many matter more at different junctures of the organization's development. An essay on the four-component model of procedural justice attempts to predict for whom justice will mean the most, and when. The four-component model of procedural justice identifies four distinct aspects, two of which are processes, two of which are sources that contribute to positive procedural justice judgment and outcomes. These four elements rate the justice of organizational decision-making, the justice of decision-making superiors, the justice of interpersonal treatment by the organization and the justice of interpersonal treatment by superiors. This integrates interpersonal treatment into the procedural justice framework, as employees must feel as if they are being treated with dignity by both the organization as the whole as well as by their supervisor, to truly see the organization as just and fair. The following chapters in the fourth section attempt to quantify the effects of perceptions on justice in terms of employee behavior. In an organization that is perceived as procedurally unfair, employees will attempt to subvert the organization's goals or turn in a subpar performance. This is why communication with employees is so crucial, and yet another necessary target of research in the future.

The fifth section offers a series of case studies on the effects of stress, workplace discrimination, and hiring, three hot-button issues in management today. This is a critical chapter, because in contrast to the more purely quantitative chapters before it, it offers more qualitative dimensions to the usefulness of concepts of justice in the workplace, although the authors still give great attention to the analysis of empirical data. For example, in terms of selection, informational justice, or informing individuals why someone was hired, may seem especially critical, so they will not blame managers for introducing unrelated issues into the process such as personal favoritism, or so they understand the need for an affirmative action/equal opportunity policy. The value of sensitivity training is also noted as an open question. Explanations and fair processes may seem to contribute to a greater degree of perceived fairness in theory. Current research devoted to showing a correlation, much less causation, between greater dissemination of information about decision-making in hiring choices is uncertain.

Articles on managing stress focuses on distributive and procedural dimensions. For example: what rewards causes employees to greater tolerate stress, and how procedural justice can mitigate stress? Does a sense of fairness contribute to a less stressful workplace? Only the sixth part of the book deals in any depth with non-Western cultures, and this is mainly to note that the lack of data on this subject is troubling, given the increasingly interconnectedness of the global economy. Different cultures have different moral and philosophical concepts of justice, of the value of the individual, and have different standards regarding the responsibility of the individual to the collective (the distinction… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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