Toward a better understanding of fairness in the workplace: attitude strength, predictive asymmetry, and the revenge motive
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AbstractEmployees care deeply about the fairness of the outcomes they receive (e.g., pay), the decision-making procedures that determine those outcomes, and about how they are treated by organizational authorities. Indeed, perceptions of fairness are related to several behaviors and attitudes in the workplace (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001). In this dissertation, I used three approaches to elucidate the relationships between perceived fairness with several behaviors and cognitions. First, I integrated the organizational justice and attitude strength literatures and introduced a construct called Justice Attitude Strength (JAS). I proposed that individuals who, for example, tend to think and talk about their justice attitudes frequently, and perceive that their attitudes are important (i.e., strong attitudes) are more likely to respond to fairness and unfairness than people who do not display these characteristics (i.e., weak attitudes). To test this hypothesis, I examined whether JAS moderates the relationships between justice attitudes and various criteria. Construct-validity evidence was found for seven JAS dimensions. Analyses of questionnaire responses from 618 employees showed little support for the JAS moderator effect on six self-reported (e.g., job search behavior) and six coworkerreported criteria (e.g., job performance). Methodological explanations for these results were ruled out. I argued that justice attitudes may be qualitatively different from other attitudes, and that morality-based reactions to (in)justice might be independent from selfinterest and other properties of attitude strength. In the second focus of this dissertation, I examined a notion that I termed predictive asymmetry; that is, attitudes concerning unfairness are more predictive of criterion variables than are attitudes concerning fairness. Results showed limited, yet promising support for this notion. The strongest support came from the relationships between procedural justice and five coworker-reported criteria, for which the correlations (corrected for attenuation) appeared to be larger when the relationships involved attitudes about unfairness, rather than fairness. Moreover, four of these apparent differences were substantial in size, ranging from .28 to .77. Thus, attitudes about unfair procedures appeared to be more predictive of criteria than attitudes about fair procedures. Implications were discussed and research recommendations were provided. In the third focus of this dissertation, I sought to better understand justicecriterion relationships by exploring a possible motive for responding to injustice. Scholars have often inferred that the relationship between perceived unfairness and counterproductive work behavior (CWB) is due, at least in part, to the revenge motive (e.g., Skarlicki & Folger, 1997), but this inference has not been assessed empirically. Thus, I examined whether individuals tend to target their CWB toward the sources of perceived unfairness, and whether these relationships are mediated by the motive for revenge. Results showed considerable support for the hypotheses. Aspects of supervisory fairness were the strongest predictors of CWB directed toward one's supervisor and aspects of procedural fairness predicted CWB directed toward one's organization. Moreover, most of these relationships were partially mediated by the revenge motive. Methodological limitations and implications for theory and practice were discussed. Finally, I also integrated some of the findings from the three research foci to highlight a possible difference between the fairness of procedures and the fairness of supervisory treatment. I concluded by summarizing the contributions of this research.
Bibliography: p. 238-274