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justice

justice

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02/01/2013

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The Impact of Justice Climate and Justice Orientation on Work Outcomes:
A Cross-Level Multifoci Framework
Hui Liao
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Deborah E. Rupp
University of Illinois at Urbana\u2013Champaign

In this article, which takes a person\u2013situation approach, the authors propose and test a cross-level multifoci model of workplace justice. They crossed 3 types of justice (procedural, informational, and interpersonal) with 2 foci (organization and supervisor) and aggregated to the group level to create 6 distinct justice climate variables. They then tested for the effects of these variables on either organization- directed or supervisor-directed commitment, satisfaction, and citizenship behavior. The authors also tested justice orientation as a moderator of these relationships. The results, based on 231 employees constituting 44 work groups representing multiple organizations and occupations, revealed that 4 forms of justice climate (organization-focused procedural and informational justice climate and supervisor- focused procedural and interpersonal justice climate) were significantly related to various work outcomes after controlling for corresponding individual-level justice perceptions. In addition, some moderation effects were found. Implications for organizations and future research are discussed.

The study of workplace justice perceptions has proven to be a rich and robust research area over the past several decades (Cro- panzano, Rupp, Mohler, & Schminke, 2001). Indeed, most re- searchers agree that employees make distinct judgments about both the processes that lead to the allocation of outcomes (i.e., procedural justice [PJ]) and the interpersonal treatment given to employees as these procedures are carried out (i.e., interactional justice [IJ]; Colquitt, 2001; Greenberg, 1993). Furthermore, meta- analytic results confirm that such perceptions lead to important workplace outcomes, such as job satisfaction, organizational com- mitment, performance, and organizational citizenship behaviors (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001). Despite these robust findings, there are many unanswered questions regarding the antecedents and consequences of justice perceptions, and these very questions have spawned some new and exciting research streams within this field.

First, although a great deal of research has explored different types of justice perceptions (e.g., procedural, informational, and interpersonal), relatively little research has considered the source

of justice perceptions (Cropanzano, Byrne, Bobocel, & Rupp, 2001). That is, to whom or what are employees attributing unfair procedures and interpersonal treatment? Although preliminary re- search in this area (termed themultifoci approach to justice) has been promising (Byrne, 1999; Cropanzano, Prehar, & Chen, 2002; Malatesta & Byrne, 1997; Masterson, Lewis, Goldman, & Taylor, 2000; Rupp & Cropanzano, 2002), more studies are needed to further explore this issue.

Second, virtually all of the research conducted to date in the field of workplace justice has considered the effects of individual- level justice perceptions on individual-level outcomes (for excep- tions, see Colquitt, Noe, & Jackson, 2002; Mossholder, Bennett, & Martin, 1998; Naumann & Bennett, 2000; Simons & Roberson, 2003). There is a great need for multilevel research that explores group- and organization-level justice perceptions (also known as

justice climate) on individual-, group-, and organization-level de-
pendent variables.

Lastly, workplace justice research has largely taken a situational approach. That is, either elements of the situation are manipulated and justice reactions are measured (i.e., theevent paradigm), or individuals are asked to make global evaluations about their work environments and the link between these perceptions and subse- quent outcomes is tested (thesocial entity paradigm; see Cropan- zano et al., 2001). An important question that remains is this: What justice-related individual differences moderate the relationship be- tween individuals\u2019 evaluation of their work environments and their subsequent attitudes and behaviors? This question becomes of particular relevance with the rise of fairness theory and the deon- tological model of justice (Cropanzano, Goldman, & Folger, 2003; Folger, 1998, 2001; Folger & Cropanzano, 2001), which propose that justice is important to all individuals and may be closely linked to their values, moral maturity, and sensitivity to fairness (Rupp, 2003; Schmitt & Do\u00a8rfel, 1999).

In the current study we seek to both further and integrate these new areas of inquiry. First, we test for justice climate variables that have not been tested before (informational and interpersonal jus-

Both authors contributed equally to this study; authorship is
alphabetical.
Portions of this article were presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the
Academy of Management, August 2003, Seattle, Washington.

We thank Tonya Runnels and Kelly Banes for assistance with obtaining organizations for this study, data collection, and data handling. We also thank David Hofmann and John Kammeyer-Mueller for their helpful comments. Last, many thanks go to our research assistants, Silke Holub, Seth Spain, and Amanda Baldwin, for their assistance on various project elements.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Deborah E. Rupp, Department of Psychology and Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, University of Illinois at Urbana\u2013Champaign, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820, or to Hui Liao, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 209 Janice H. Levin Building, 94 Rockafeller Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854. E-mail: derupp@uiuc.edu or huiliao@smlr.rutgers.edu

Journal of Applied Psychology
Copyright 2005 by the American Psychological Association
2005, Vol. 90, No. 2, 242\u2013256
0021-9010/05/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.90.2.242
242

tice climate). Second, we incorporate source into the notion of justice climate by considering the justice climate attributed to both the organization and the supervisor. Third, we incorporate an individual-difference (justice orientation) moderator into our model. In the following sections, we review the research relevant to each of these topics. Then we propose our integrative multifoci cross-level moderated model of workplace justice.

Multifoci Justice Research

In the late 1990s, researchers began arguing that in addition to considering different types of employee justice perceptions (e.g., PJ, IJ), it may be beneficial to consider thesource of justice (see Cropanzano, Byrne, et al., 2001). Indeed, in the workplace, many sources orfoci of justice are possible. An employee could poten- tially make differential justice perceptions about her or his super- visor, upper management, the organization as a whole, coworkers, subordinates, customers, and so forth. Early research in this area (Malatesta & Byrne, 1997) suggested that policies and procedures are perceived as coming from the organization, and therefore judgments about PJ will be closely linked to attitudes and behav- iors directed at the organization. Likewise, interpersonal treatment is seen as coming directly from one\u2019s supervisor, and therefore IJ will be closely linked to attitudes and behaviors directed at one\u2019s supervisor.

Subsequent empirical research has confirmed such models. For example, Masterson et al. (2000) found IJ to predict supervisory citizenship behaviors, supervisory satisfaction, and performance (mediated by leader\u2013member exchange) and found PJ to predict organizational citizenship and turnover intentions (mediated by organizational support). Further, Cropanzano et al. (2002) found IJ to predict supervisory satisfaction and job performance (mediated by leader\u2013member exchange) and found performance appraisal PJ to predict performance appraisal satisfaction and trust in management.

Other research, however, has extended this multifoci notion by arguing that employees make distinct justice judgments about both the procedures and interpersonal treatment coming from both the supervisor and the organization. Such a model, containing four types of justice (supervisor-focused PJ, supervisor-focused IJ, organization-focused PJ, and organization-focused IJ), has been confirmed in two studies. Byrne (1999) found supervisor-focused PJ and IJ to predict supervisory commitment and supervisory citizenship and found organization-focused PJ and IJ to predict organizational commitment and organizational citizenship. Rupp and Cropanzano (2002) replicated these findings and also found evidence for social exchange relationships as a mediator of these multifoci effects.

The messages emerging from these studies are clear: (a) Em- ployees make distinct judgments about the interactional and pro- cedural treatment received from both their supervisor and the organization as a whole, (b) these perceptions predict important attitudes and behaviors relevant to these different entities, and (c) these relationships are at least in part explained by the social exchange relationships that are formed between the employee and each of these entities.

An important next step for multifoci justice research to take would be to extend this research beyond individual-level variables (Rupp & Cropanzano, 2002). That is, can individual-level justice

perceptions emerge to form group-level justice perceptions? Might there exist multifoci group-level justice perceptions, whereby dif- ferent \u201cjustice climates\u201d exist for these different types and sources of justice? Do these group-level justice perceptions impact individual-level attitudes and behaviors above and beyond individual-level multifoci justice perceptions? The current study seeks to provide empirical evidence in response to these questions.

Another potentially valuable extension of this research is to incorporate the research showing evidence for the multidimension- ality of IJ. That is, research suggests that IJ can be split into interpersonal justice (IPJ; i.e., the fairness of the explanations provided for why and how decisions are made) and information justice (IFJ; i.e., the interpersonal sensitivity by which procedures are carried out; Colquitt, 2001; Greenberg, 1993). However, to date, multifoci justice research has collapsed such items into a single IJ factor. We extend past research by looking at the effects of both individual- and group-level PJ, IFJ, and IPJ perceptions made about both the employee\u2019s supervisor and the organization.

Cross-Level Justice Research

Although no research to date has explored cross-level justice effects from a multifoci perspective, at least four studies have explored the notion ofjustice climate as mentioned above. Moss- holder et al. (1998) were the first to propose a work unit measure of justice. Their field study, which focused only on PJ, found that justice can indeed be conceptualized as a contextual variable and thatjustice context (the within-work-unit average of justice per- ceptions assigned to each unit member) predicted individual-level job satisfaction beyond the effects of individual-level PJ percep- tions. Second, Naumann and Bennett (2000) expanded the notion of justice context by pulling from the organizational climate liter- ature. These authors found that group cohesion and the visibility of supervisors in demonstrating PJ were powerful antecedents to the formation of PJ climate, which in turn significantly predicted helping behaviors above and beyond the effects of individual-level justice perceptions. Third, the Colquitt et al. (2002) study further added to this research stream by showing that team-level PJ climate significantly predicted team-level outcomes, including per- formance and absenteeism. Finally, Simons and Roberson (2003) found that department-level PJ and IPJ predicted department-level employee affective commitment, satisfaction with supervision, discretionary service behavior, and intent to remain, which, when aggregated to the business unit level, further predicted business- unit-level customer satisfaction and employee turnover.

The implications of these studies are twofold. First, they suggest that workplace justice needs to be studied in its social context, which is characterized by relational phenomena that cannot be understood in terms of individuals independently (Cappelli & Sherer, 1991). For individuals working in organizations, perhaps the most prominent social context is their immediate work group (Hackman, 1992; Kozlowski & Bell, 2003). Although justice per- ceptions have their origin at the individual level of analysis, they may form a shared, collective cognition or climate at the group level. This emergence process has been referred to asbottom-up

processin multilevel research (see Kozlowski & Klein, 2000).
Several theories provide the theoretical underpinnings for the
emergence of justice climate as a group-level property.Social
243
A CROSS-LEVEL MULTIFOCI FRAMEWORK OF JUSTICE
information processing theory(Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978) argues

that individuals use information gathered from others in their direct social contexts to form judgments about organizational practices, values, and norms. Given that members of the same group are exposed to the same policies, leaders, and other contex- tual characteristics (Naumann & Bennett, 2000), they will possess shared information and form common perceptions regarding the general justice practices and procedures in the work group. Simi- larly, research onsocialization reveals that coworkers are key agents in the socialization process and that a new employee will come to learn, via interactions with existing members (see Louis, Posner, & Powell, 1983; Ostroff & Kozlowski, 1992; Trice & Beyer, 1993), the procedures dictating how things are generally carried out and how people are generally treated in their work groups. This type of information exchange takes place most fre- quently among members in the same work group, thereby fostering the formation of relatively homogeneous justice perceptions in the work group. Furthermore, the notion ofcontagious justice also emphasizes the social side of justice at work and argues that \u201cthe often ambiguous and emotionally charged nature of justice events compels organizational actors to engage in social talk and arrive at a shared, socially constructed interpretation of justice\u201d (Degoey, 2000, p. 51). In addition, theattraction\u2013selection\u2013attrition per- spective (Schneider, 1975), which proposes that individuals of similar characteristics are attracted to, selected into, and retained by the same group, also suggests that over time, a work group will consist of individuals of similar justice values and perceptions. Finally, empirical research has shown the influences of these hypothetical processes to operate in the formation of specific climates at the group level such as technical updating climate (e.g., Kozlowski & Hults, 1987), innovation climate (e.g., Anderson & West, 1998), safety climate (e.g., Hofmann & Stetzer, 1996), service climate (e.g., Schneider, 1990), and PJ climate (e.g., Nau- mann & Bennett, 2000). In sum, the above theories and empirical evidence support the use of work group as an appropriate level to examine the existence of justice climate as shared justice percep- tions among group members.

Second, these cross-level justice studies demonstrate that justice climate has incremental validity in predicting individual-level at- titudes and behavior beyond individual-level justice perceptions (Mossholder et al., 1998; Naumann & Bennett, 2000). In explain- ing why they expect such impact of justice climate on individual outcomes, Naumann and Bennett (2000) draw on the research by Lind, Kray, and Thompson (1998) and argue that the negative impact of injustice is more salient when all or most of the group members have been treated unfairly as compared with when only one member has been treated unfairly. These authors point out that widespread injustice would enable group members to validate their coworkers\u2019 perceptions of injustice on the basis of their own perceptions of injustice, and vice versa. Therefore, an individual\u2019s attitudes and behavior are influenced not only by his or her own justice experiences but also by the knowledge about how others are treated in the group. As a result, similar to other macrolevel properties that influence and constrain lower level phenomena (Kozlowski & Klein, 2000), justice climate, once formed as part of a group-level context, will have top-down influences on members\u2019 attitudes and behaviors.

Justice Orientation

A fourth extension of past justice research taking a multifoci or cross-level perspective is the inclusion of an individual-difference moderator. Recent research has suggested the presence of an individual-difference variable, related to justice, that affects both the formation of justice judgments and individuals\u2019 reactions to unfair treatment (Rupp, Byrne, & Wadlington, 2003; Schmitt & Do\u00a8rfel, 1999). Fairness theory (Folger & Cropanzano, 2001) and its subcomponent, the deontological model (Cropanzano, Gold- man, & Folger, 2003; Folger, 1998, 2001), purport that justice is a moral virtue held by all individuals that assists in regulating interpersonal behavior. Although evidence supporting this model has been promising (Kahneman, Knetsch, & Thaler, 1986; Rupp, 2003; Turillo, Folger, Lavelle, Umphress, & Gee, 2002), research has recently argued that individual differences exist in the extent to which this \u201cjustice virtue\u201d is held. This construct has been termed

justice orientationand has been defined as the extent to which

individuals internalize justice as a moral virtue and are attentive to issues of fairness around them. In a recent four-study paper, Rupp, Byrne, and Wadlington (2003) presented construct validity evi- dence finding that justice orientation moderated the relationship between individual-level justice perceptions (both IJ and PJ) and individual-level outcomes (e.g., commitment, satisfaction, and emotional exhaustion). In the current study we seek to extend these findings by testing whether justice orientation moderates the rela- tionship between multifoci justice climate and individual-level outcomes.

Following the deontological model, individuals higher in justice orientation are more likely to notice justice issues surrounding them. As a result, these individuals are more likely to be influ- enced by justice climate than those lower in justice orientation. Therefore, justice climate effects should be moderated by justice orientation, with justice climate having a stronger effect on atti- tudes and behaviors of individuals high in justice orientation.

Current Study

Integrating and extending past research, we propose and test a cross-level moderated multifoci framework of workplace justice.1 Our hypotheses are listed in Table 1. To summarize, we hypoth- esized that after controlling for corresponding individual-level justice perceptions, organization-focused justice climate (PJ, IFJ, and IPJ) would positively predict outcomes directed at the orga- nization (citizenship, satisfaction, and commitment) and that supervisor-focused justice climate (PJ, IFJ, and IPJ) would predict

1Note we use the termworkplace justice in lieu of the more traditional
organizational justice. This is because, owing to developments in multi-

level and multifoci justice research, the termorganizational justice has become potentially confusing. Whereas one person might understand this term to mean the study of justice in the workplace, another might under- stand it to mean organization-focused justice perceptions, while still an- other might understand it to mean organization-level justice perceptions. For this reason, we avoid the termorganizational in all cases except those where we are referring to organization-focused justice. We use the term

workplace justiceto refer to justice perceptions in general or the field of
study often referred to as organizational justice. We take the same caution
when discussing organizational citizenship behavior.
244
LIAO AND RUPP

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