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NECESSARY EVILS, (IN)JUSTICE, AND RAPPORT MANAGEMENT

Kim Sydow Campbell Charles D. White
University of Alabama

Rita Durant
University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Building from K. S. Campbell, White, and Johnson’s 2003 model of rapport management, the authors explain how employee perceptions of justice and emotional responses of anger may result from the interpersonal communication behavior of organizational leaders. The authors ground the discussion of theory in the analysis of narratives written by subordinates to recount incidents in which they felt angry with their manager. Based on these narratives, propositions about the relationship between a manager’s acknowledgement or violation of rapport management norms and employee perceptions of (in)justice are developed. Thus, the authors demonstrate the value of rapport management theory for explicating the relationship maintenance behaviors that are crucial in the effective performance of necessary evils by organizational leaders. Keywords: anger; LMX; linguistic politeness; organizational justice; superior-subordinate communication; sociolinguistics

Because of their organizational role, managers must sometimes act in ways that negatively affect their subordinates (e.g., denying a subordinate’s request for promotion, discussing negative feedback about the subordinate’s performance, reprimanding a subordinate about tardiness). Molinsky and Margolis (2005) called these acts “necessary evils” and defined them more specifically as “those work-related tasks in which an
An earlier version of this article was presented at the Academy of Management meeting in New Orleans, LA, August 9, 2004. The authors thank Christian Kiewitz for sharing the narratives used in this article. Kim Sydow Campbell (PhD, Louisiana State University) is Derrell Thomas Teaching Excellence Faculty Fellow in the Culverhouse College of Commerce at the University of Alabama. Charles D. White is a PhD candidate in management at the University of Alabama. Rita Durant (PhD, University of Alabama) is visiting assistant professor at University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kim Sydow Campbell, Dept. of Management & Marketing, Box 870225, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0225; e-mail: kcampbel@cba.ua.edu.
Journal of Business Communication, Volume 44, Number 2, April 2007 161-185 DOI: 10.1177/0021943606297904 © 2007 by the Association for Business Communication

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individual must, as part of his or her job, perform an act that causes emotional or physical harm to another human being in the service of achieving some perceived greater good or purpose” (p. 247). These tasks, although unpleasant, are necessary because they are important components of being a manager. For instance, a manager who ignores unsatisfactory performance by communicating satisfactory performance ratings will not only reinforce the wrong behavior but will confuse the employee if disciplinary action is eventually taken. On the other hand, a manager must approach such interpersonal communication tasks cautiously so as to inflict minimal emotional harm to the subordinate and to maintain a productive working relationship with the subordinate. Not surprisingly, prior work in the area of organizational justice clearly documents the importance of a manager’s interpersonal sensitivity in performing such necessary evils. Unfortunately, managers’ lack of success in managing that subjective experience is well documented. Incivility is still a common perception in the workplace (Andersson & Pearson, 1999). In many cases, subordinates’ subjective response to their managers’ interpersonal actions is anger and a sense of injustice. According to Folger and Cropanzano’s (2001) fairness theory, individuals use a referent standard to gauge justice. That is, individual employees compare their own treatment with the treatment of other employees in the organization and then form perceptions about the fairness of the treatment (i.e., the equal application of standards; Liu & Buzzanell, 2004). Because the selection of a referent standard is determined by the employee and the resulting justice perceptions are controlled by the employee, organizational justice theory has primarily studied the effects of various levels of perceived injustice to determine how these perceptions impact employee attitudes and behaviors. We seek to contribute to an understanding of the interpretative schema underlying such standards, particularly the effects of violation of implicit interpersonal rules involving managers’ interactions with subordinates. Our goal in this article is to determine if rapport management theory may provide a useful tool for understanding and managing employee perceptions of justice. To this end, we provide an overview of (in)justice in the workplace, emphasizing the role that managers play. We then explore the usefulness of the sociolinguistic theory of rapport management (Spencer-Oatey, 2000) for explaining perceptions of justice and emotional responses of anger to the interpersonal communication behavior of organizational leaders, building from K. S. Campbell, White, and Johnson’s (2003) model. We ground our

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discussion of theory in the analysis of narratives written by subordinates to recount incidents in which they felt angry with their manager. In this way, we respond to Molinsky and Margolis’s (2005) general suggestion that research should explore various relationship maintenance behaviors that can help managers perform necessary evils with minimal harm to their relationships with subordinates. Furthermore, we respond to Rahim, Magner, and Shapiro’s (2000) more specific suggestion that sociolinguistic theory may explain why perceptions regarding the social sensitivity of interpersonal treatment relate to justice judgments.

Our goal in this article is to determine if rapport management theory may provide a useful tool for understanding and managing employee perceptions of justice.

UNDERSTANDING (IN)JUSTICE IN THE WORKPLACE

Research has explored employee perceptions of justice because they can have serious organizational repercussions, including job satisfaction, organizational commitment, evaluation of authority, organizational citizenship behavior, withdrawal, and performance (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001). Scholars now recognize four categories of organizational justice: distributive, procedural, informational, and interpersonal (Colquitt et al., 2001). Distributive justice is concerned with whether outcomes are allocated fairly (e.g., vacation time is distributed equitably among employees) and has the longest history of scholarship, extending back to Adams (1965). Procedural justice is concerned with whether the processes used to make allocations are fair (e.g., procedures for sanctioning vacation time requests are consistent); scholarship in this area dates back to the work of Leventhal, Karuza, and Fry (1980). Informational and interpersonal justice were originally conceived as a single type of procedural justice called interactional (Bies & Moag, 1986); however, Greenberg (1990) made clear they constitute distinct types of

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justice. Informational justice is concerned with whether and how people are given information about procedures (e.g., the manager responds to an employee’s vacation request in an appropriate amount of time and provides an explanation for why the request has been denied). Interpersonal justice is concerned with whether people are treated with politeness, dignity, and respect (e.g., the manager communicating that a vacation request has been denied does so in a way that makes the employee feel respected). Organizational behavior research has emphasized the role of norms in understanding justice. Cropanzano, Rupp, Mohler, and Schminke (2001) wrote that employees who perceive injustice in the workplace use a referent standard as a ruler to gauge the discrepancy between the current state of affairs and a “fair” state. In this way, “Injustice is not merely a judgment, but represents a violation of justice and fairness norms” (Bies, 1987, p. 289). Thus, much research in organizational justice has attempted to delineate the nature of the norms themselves. For example, Bies and Moag (1986) described four criteria of fair interactions:
• Truthfulness: including deception (feeling misled or lied to) and candidness (being treated in an open and forthright manner), • Respect: including rudeness (being subject to discourteous or attacking conduct), • Propriety: being asked improper questions (those concerning sex, age, race, etc.) and being an object of prejudicial statements, and • Justification: the idea that appropriate explanations should accompany decisions.

From a business communication perspective, the specific behaviors associated with such norms as respect and propriety have been documented within the rapport management model of leader-member interaction (K. S. Campbell, 2006; K. S. Campbell et al., 2003). Before we turn to the topic of rapport management, we briefly discuss the study of justice by communication researchers. Much of the research in organizational justice treats communication as information transfer (e.g., Gopinath & Becker, 2000) and therefore sheds little light on interpersonal justice (or, one could argue, on informational justice). To date, communication scholars have had relatively little impact in this area despite our obvious expertise in both “how people are given information” (informational justice) and “whether people are treated with politeness” (interpersonal justice). Yamaguchi (2005) is a notable exception. Following Ambrose and Harland (1995), Yamaguchi (2005) investigated the perceived fairness of three categories of influence tactics (Yukl

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& Falbe, 1990): rational interpersonal communication tactics (e.g., reasoning, promise, commitment, question, and self-disclosure), soft interpersonal communication tactics (e.g., a friendly manner, praise, flattery, and sympathy), and hard interpersonal communication tactics (e.g., a high-handed manner, demands/orders, warnings, and threats). That study found that hard tactics were associated with increased perceptions of injustice, whereas soft and rational tactics were associated with decreased perceptions of injustice. This finding is supported by the power and influence literature that suggests that important employee outcomes are related to the type of power used by organizational leaders. According to research in the area of power (Yukl & Falbe, 1991), managers who use personal forms of power (e.g., expert or referent power) rather than position-based forms of power (e.g., legitimate or coercive) have subordinates who are more committed and who rate managerial effectiveness higher. The effectiveness of a manager’s influence tactics is greatly influenced by the power bases that he or she possesses (Hinkin & Schriesheim, 1990). For example, a manager must possess legitimate or coercive power to use hard or “pressure” tactics and in turn must have referent or expert power to use the more effective soft or rational tactics. Drawing from the power and influence literature then, managers will benefit from developing more relationship-based power and using the softer influence strategies to manage justice issues.

Drawing from the power and influence literature then, managers will benefit from developing more relationship-based power and using the softer influence strategies in order to manage justice issues.

Any form of justice in the workplace is the result of organizational leadership. Another communication researcher studied the impact of leader-member exchange (LMX) quality on distributive and procedural justice as well as their impact on cooperative communication within workgroups (Lee, 2001). That research found that employees with lower quality LMX relationships with their managers had increased perceptions of

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both distributive and procedural injustice and also experienced less cooperation within their workgroup. In this article, we want to build on these research efforts by exploring the usefulness of rapport management theory, which has been connected to the development of LMX (K. S. Campbell, 2006). We also address K. S. Campbell et al.’s (2003) suggestion that “The choice of rapport management strategies by leaders should influence member perceptions of interactional justice” (p. 190) and that future research should investigate “the connection between rapport management and influence tactics” (p. 191).

RAPPORT MANAGMENT BEHAVIOR

In their review of prior research on rapport within a variety of disciplines, Gremler and Gwinner (2000) noted that a common theme is that rapport is “characterized by an enjoyable interaction in which participants connect on some level” (p. 90). Rapport management (Spencer-Oatey, 2000) refers to the use of language to manage social relations by attending to our fellow interactants’ desires and rights (Brown & Levinson, 1987; Goffman, 1967). Spencer-Oatey (2000) identified two universal desires (quality face wants and social identity face wants) and two universal rights (autonomy rights and association rights). Definitions and examples of how these desires/rights are either supported (tended) or undermined (threatened) by managers are provided in Table 1. The framework in Table 1 is useful for helping managers understand the fundamental, universal, yet unspoken expectations that subordinates bring to any interaction (K. S. Campbell et al., 2003): Subordinates find those interactions in which their desires/rights are tended by managers most enjoyable and feel the greatest connection with those managers who tend their desires/rights. For instance, the manager who grants a vacation request tends the autonomy rights of the subordinate, thereby influencing the subordinate to feel positively about this specific interaction and his or her relationship with the manager. Conversely, subordinates find those interactions in which their desires/rights are threatened by managers least enjoyable and feel the least connection with those managers who threaten their desires/rights. In this case, the manager who denies a vacation request threatens the autonomy rights of the subordinate. If that manager communicates the denial by prefacing it with an apology (tending autonomy rights), the subordinate will feel more positively about this specific interaction and his or her relationship with the manager.

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Table 1.

Rapport Management Theory and Communication Behaviors

Threatening Face Quality and social identity face wants: Seek agreement, show interest in individual or group, use in-group identity markers to establish intimacy Association rights: Exclude from activities related to a group with which an individual identifies

Tending Face

Threatening Sociality

Tending Sociality

Individual-level concerns

Quality face wants: Blame, criticize, disagree, disrespect the individual

Autonomy rights: Interfere Autonomy rights: Hedge, with or impose on an be pessimistic, impersonalize, individual’s freedom minimize, be deferential, to act apologize, incur a debt

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Group-level concerns

Social identity face wants: Blame, criticize, disagree, disrespect a group with which an individual identifies

Association rights: Seek interaction, actively listen

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In rapport management terms, necessary evils threaten subordinates’ desires/rights. The aim of this article is to determine if rapport management theory may provide a useful tool for understanding and managing employee perceptions of justice related to the performance of necessary evils. The connection between (in)justice and each of the four desires/rights from Table 1 will be discussed in detail after we present our method for collecting and analyzing narrative data in the following section.

METHOD

Several professional communication researchers have encouraged the use of narratives (e.g., Jameson, 2001; Suchan, 2004). In this article, we adopt Jameson’s (2001) definition of narrative:
A pattern used in speech, writing, or even visual communication . . . whose hallmark is an explicit or implicit time sequence of events. An event is something that happens, not just something that exists; language about something that merely exists is descriptive, not narrative. (p. 477)

A select number of management researchers have also noted the value of narrative: As Bies (2001) put it, “Researchers can gain a deeper insight into justice by listening to and analyzing people’s narratives of injustice” (p. 90). Thus, we use narratives of injustice in the research reported here. Because our goal is to determine if rapport management theory may provide a useful tool for managers attempting to understand and manage employee perceptions of justice, our focus is on the narratives of subordinates.
Participants

Our sample was culled from 232 handwritten narratives that had been gathered for a study involving anger and justice (Kiewitz, 2000). In that study, participants were asked to describe in their own words an incident at work that made them angry.1 The participants in that study represented each gender equally (51.8% women) and were well educated (61.3% had earned a college degree), married (66.8%), and primarily Caucasian (80.1%). Participants reported a mean age of 40.47 years and averaged 9.94 years working for their current employer.

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Table 2.

Definitions and Examples for Coding Violations of Organizational Justice

Coding Category Distributive injustice

Definition Unfairness of decision outcome. For example, the writer says an undeserving employee got a raise. Other resources besides money might be involved. Unfairness of the process by which a decision was made. For example, the writer says she was fired without being given three warnings as outlined in the company policies. Unfairness of the availability of information about procedures. For example, the writer says he received no explanation when he did not get promoted. Unfairness of interpersonal treatment. For example, the writer says he was yelled at in front of other employees.

Procedural injustice

Informational injustice

Interpersonal injustice

Coding Procedures

Because the narrative prompt was very general,2 we were able to review a wide variety of incidents. Of the 232 narratives, 109 (47%) involved a subordinate’s anger toward an event involving their manager, defined as someone in the position of power over the person experiencing the injustice (French & Raven, 1959). Because we suspected that distributive and procedural as well as interpersonal or informational justice might be related to failures to manage rapport, four coders were trained to identify justice issues in those 109 written narratives. Each coder was a student who had studied organizational justice in his or her recent coursework. Coders were given a set of written instructions that included definitions and examples of the four types of justice (Table 2). Multiple codes were possible for each described incident or narrative (i.e., a single incident might involve no justice issues, a single justice issue, or some combination). All of the 109 incidents were coded with at least one type of organizational (in)justice, although agreement on the specific category was low (58% agreement for all categories and Cohen’s [1960] kappa of .134 for distributive, .151 for procedural, and .293 for interpersonal/informational). Nevertheless, we are confident that all 109 stories describe incidents in which some type of organizational (in)justice was involved. To assess the value of rapport management theory for explaining subordinates’ perceptions of organizational (in)justice involving their managers, the three researchers independently assigned Spencer-Oatey’s

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Table 3.

Definitions and Examples for Coding Threats to Rapport Management

Coding Category Quality face wants

Definition Threatens face of the writer of the event (i.e., Brown & Levinson’s [1987] “positive” face; personal self-image projected to world); for example, criticism—stronger if in front of others; disagreeing. Threatens face of the writer of the event (i.e., Brown & Levinson’s “positive” face applied to social role rather than individual); for example, criticism— stronger if in front of others; disagreeing. Threatens rights of the writer of the event (i.e., Brown & Levinson’s “negative” face plus recognition that individuals sometimes want to be imposed upon if benefit is great enough); ordering or requesting. Threatens rights of the writer of the event; based on social role, individuals have rights to time/attention of others; not listening.

Social identity face wants

Autonomy rights

Association rights

(2000) categories of rapport management violations (i.e., threats to quality face wants, social identity face wants, autonomy rights, and association rights) to the 109 written narratives involving injustice perpetrated by managers. Once again, a set of written instructions including definitions and examples of the four types of justice was created (Table 3). Likewise, coding allowed for multiple responses per described incident (i.e., a single story might involve no violation of rapport management, violation of a single rapport management category, or violation of some combination of the four categories). Only 1 of the 109 stories was coded with no violations in rapport management:
Narrative 131: The only time I can remember being angry at work was when we had an exempt position become available at work and it did not go to the person most qualified for the job, but to a friend of the manager of our department.

Although coders agreed that distributive injustice was an issue in this narrative, no coder assigned any rapport management issues involving subordinates’ desires/rights.

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Of the remaining 108 narratives, all three coders agreed on all four categories of rapport management codes for 64 (59%) incidents; two of three coders agreed for an additional 42 (39%) incidents for an average percentage agreement for all rapport management coding of 79.8%. Interrater reliability calculated using Cohen’s (1960) kappa was high (.774) for quality face wants, moderate (.514) for social identity face wants and (.548) for autonomy rights, and low (.274) for association rights. This suggested that sociolinguistic theory was worth exploring as an interpretive schema revealing norms by which subordinates judge the interpersonal sensitivity of managers. In all cases, the managers failed to demonstrate interpersonal sensitivity in their interaction with subordinates.

INTERPRETATIONS OF RAPPORT MANAGEMENT AND (IN)JUSTICE

To illustrate how rapport management can help us develop propositions about the organizational justice norms that may be violated by managers when interacting with subordinates, we take a close look at representative narratives in the remainder of this section of the article. (Only stories in which all coders agreed on the specific type of desire/right under discussion are presented.) The narratives have not been edited and are presented as originally written by participants.
Quality Face Wants and Injustice

In 38 (35%) of the108 narratives describing anger-inducing interactions that involved a manager, we found evidence of violations of quality face wants, which primarily included stories about managers who criticized subordinates unfairly. In such interactions, the subordinate’s anger (and perception of injustice) was motivated by a sense of loss to his or her worth, credibility, dignity, honor, reputation, or competence based on the manager’s interpersonal communication behavior toward him or her. One of those narratives is as follows:
Narrative 137: I came in at least 20 min early every morning. One morning I came at 8:05 and the “bitch” just started in about being late. She was all over me about being to work on time, and I just ate it up. It pissed me off to no end that it didn’t matter about how early I came in, but it did matter when I came in late. So, I just kept coming in late.

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The manager’s goal of influencing consistent standards for attendance can be considered a necessary evil, an action performed to achieve an important organizational purpose despite its negative impact on the subordinate. The subordinate’s narrative makes it clear that his or her anger and sense of injustice was prompted by the fact that the manager criticized (threatened quality face wants) without praising (tending quality face wants). In this case, the way the manager communicated her goal seems to have been the salient issue to which the subordinate responded with anger, perceptions of injustice, and later retaliation. Our coders saw procedural and interpersonal injustice in this narrative. In some cases, the subordinate’s anger was clearly directed at the way in which criticism from the manager was delivered (interpersonal injustice) rather than the act of criticism itself:
Narrative 139: I became angry when I was working as an associate at a local jewelry store. My boss decided that she could yell at me in front of the other associates and while it angered me, it really hurt my feelings. I’ve moved on since then and have found a much better place to work but I could not believe the way she treated her employees and believed that she deserved respect.

In other cases, the salient issue to which the subordinate responded with anger was the lack of an apology from the manager for wrongly criticizing the subordinate:
Narrative 135: Being chewed out by a supervisor for something I didn’t do and then when he found out he was wrong, he offered no apology.

Managers mitigate threats to a subordinate’s face wants when apologizing because an apology communicates self-criticism, hence constituting a threat to the manager’s face wants. In other words, the subordinate’s face wants are elevated when the manager lowers his or her own (Brown & Levinson, 1987). The relative raising or lowering of face to manage rapport appears to be related to Lind and Tyler’s (1988) concept of standing. Again, our coders saw interpersonal injustice as an issue in this narrative. Threats to the subordinate’s quality face wants in all of these narratives involved interpersonal injustice based on lack of respect (Bies & Moag, 1986). Although most managers would probably agree that a common requirement of their organizational role involves the necessary evil of criticizing subordinates, they may fail to realize the impact such actions have

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on their relationship with those subordinates. The subordinates in the previous narratives were left feeling devalued and disrespected after interacting with their managers. The managers in Narratives 135, 137, and 139 appeared to use hard interpersonal influence tactics with their subordinates (Yamaguchi, 2005; Yukl & Falbe, 1990). Consequently, the subordinates perceived their managers’ actions as unfair, and the relationship between managers and subordinates was negatively affected. Linking rapport management and organizational justice theory, we advance the following propositions:
Proposition 1a: Managers who threaten a subordinate’s quality face wants will increase subordinate perceptions of interpersonal injustice. Proposition 1b: Managers’ use of rapport management behaviors that tend quality face wants (e.g., praising the subordinate) will moderate the relationship between quality face threatening actions (including necessary evils) and subordinate perceptions of interpersonal injustice. Social Identity Face Wants and Injustice

In 9 (8%) of the 108 narratives, like the following one, we found violations of social identity face wants:
Narrative 148: A time when I feel angry at work is more or less every day. The head of my department that ironically knows the very least about my job or anyone else’s in the department telling us as a whole we aren’t doing things right or “up to par” so to speak. If we have problems or questions and we take them to him, he usually looks dumbfounded and cannot provide an answer. He also makes derogatory remarks towards females in the office and their work apparel.

Once again, we see that although criticizing subordinate performance may be a necessary evil, the way in which managers communicate that criticism is key to understanding interpersonal injustice. In this narrative, the subordinate’s anger is prompted by the manager’s treatment of the entire workgroup, especially other women. Because the subordinate identifies with these groups, her social identity face wants were threatened. The manager’s inappropriate remarks about women promote the perception of interpersonal injustice related to propriety (Bies & Moag, 1986). Interestingly, we found that five of the identified social identity face wants violations (more than half) co-occurred with violations of quality face wants, suggesting that subordinates’ anger about treatment of a group is often personalized. One of these narratives is as follows:

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Narrative 141: I work for a small business firm. Our performances have not been great for about 2 years. It has been frustrating for me and my coworkers. Our boss is obviously frustrated and looking for answers. Needless to say pressure is always on us and stress. At one of our meetings our boss picked me and two of my closer teammates out and basically criticized our performances in front of everyone. I was so embarrassed and pissed. It’s not like we have a big team, and the ones that my boss thinks work really hard, hate him and constantly bash his managerial style. I was so angry and even hurt! I felt rather betrayed!

This narrative describes the subordinate’s anger toward a manager who threatened the face wants of both the individual subordinate and also of the subordinate’s coworkers by criticizing them in front of others. Drawing on narratives like those previously reported, we propose the following:
Proposition 2a: Managers who threaten a subordinate’s social identity face wants will increase subordinate perceptions of interpersonal injustice. Proposition 2b: Managers’ use of rapport management behaviors that tend social identity face wants (e.g., praising the university from which the subordinate graduated) will moderate the relationship between social identity face threatening actions (including necessary evils) and subordinate perceptions of interpersonal injustice. Autonomy Rights and Injustice

In 33 (31%) of the 108 narratives, we found autonomy rights violations, like the following one:
Narrative 230: Once my boss called me on a Sunday afternoon. He asked me to come work for a few hours. To me, Sundays are for relaxation. I had no plans for the afternoon and I was just relaxing in shorts and a t-shirt. He called without any prior notice and asked me to come to work. I can’t really say no to the boss because then I’m afraid he would hold it against me. I was really frustrated and mad because he had complete control over my day at that point.

The manager’s goal of maximizing output by directing the behavior of subordinates can be considered a necessary evil, an action performed to achieve an important organizational purpose despite its negative impact on the subordinate. The subordinate’s narrative makes it clear that his or her anger and sense of injustice in this case were prompted by the fact that the

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manager imposed on the subordinate’s personal time (threatening autonomy rights) without offering the subordinate any real opportunity to refuse (tending autonomy rights) or a sufficient benefit for complying (tending quality face wants). In Narrative 230, the choice to communicate a request rather than the way in which the manager communicated it seems to us to be the salient issue to which the subordinate responded. Thus, perceptions of injustice are influenced by the content and underlying purpose (i.e., speech act; K. S. Campbell, 1990) conveyed by a manager’s message, not simply by the message’s “style.” It is not clear from the narrative what influence tactic was used by the manager—except that he or she “asked” the subordinate to come to work. Other examples of autonomy rights violations while performing necessary evils in the workplace include a subordinate’s rights to dress according to his or her interpretation of the rules.
Narrative 144: I was sent home to change pants. We have a dress code at work—no denim except once a month on a Fri. I had on a pair of linen carpenter pants that I had worn 2 times before. I was asked to go home and change by my supervisor and office manager.

Although the goal of enforcing consistent standards may be a necessary evil, the managers in this case appear to have used the hard influence tactic of issuing an order (Yamaguchi, 2005; Yukl & Falbe, 1990), which was perceived as unfair and prompted the subordinate’s perception of injustice. As in the previous example, the speech act itself (i.e., the request) rather than the style of the message seems to be the salient issue. Thus, three of four coders categorized the issue as distributive injustice in this narrative. In the following narrative, the subordinate perceived injustice when the manager assigned a heavier workload to the subordinate compared to his or her coworkers’ workload:
Narrative 164: Several times I have felt angry at work when my workload seemed much greater than someone else who was not as dedicated as I am and made a lot more money than I earned.

The subordinate linked his or her anger and sense of injustice to the fact that the manager imposed on the subordinate’s work time (threatening autonomy rights) without offering the subordinate any real opportunity to refuse (tending autonomy rights) or a sufficient benefit for complying

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(tending quality face wants). All four coders saw procedural injustice issues in this narrative. Restricting the employee’s workplace autonomy is often considered to be the primary function of managers. A fundamental organizational conflict is that between “justice and liberty . . . because managers desire obedience and employees desire free choice” (Konovsky, 2000, p. 491). Although many modern organizations talk of “empowering” employees and much research has looked at the positive effects of employee empowerment (e.g., D. J. Campbell, 2000; Gomez & Rosen, 2001; Liden, Wayne, & Sparrowe, 2000), the daily interpersonal behaviors of authoritarian managers can quickly subvert any organizational initiatives focused on empowerment. The empowerment of employees is borne out of McGregor’s (1996) Theory Y perspective of management, based on the assumptions that employees desire to do a good job and that their performance and creativity will be enhanced when managers avoid attempts to control. Many managers may be surprised to discover however that their communication behavior still reeks of Theory X authoritarianism. Combining rapport management and organizational justice theory, we make the following propositions:
Proposition 3a: Managers who threaten a subordinate’s autonomy rights will increase subordinate perceptions of distributive, procedural, or interpersonal injustice. Proposition 3b: Managers’ use of rapport management behaviors that tend autonomy rights (e.g., acknowledging the subordinate’s right to refuse) will moderate the relationship between autonomy threatening actions (including necessary evils) and subordinate perceptions of distributive, procedural, or interpersonal injustice.

Based on the narratives we analyzed, we speculate that at least three different types of injustice may be prompted when a manager violates a subordinate’s autonomy rights.
Association Rights and Injustice

In 14 (13%) of the 108 narratives, we found association rights violations, which reflect our sense of entitlement to be included (SpencerOatey, 2000) in the activities of the groups with which we identify, including conversations and discussions about issues that concern us. Some narratives mention a lack of listening, as in the following example:

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Narrative 172: I usually get mad at work when I am not listened to. It happens a lot when my views are overlooked and no one pays attention to my views. Other than that I love my job.

The subordinate’s anger and sense of injustice in this case were prompted by the fact that everyone (including, we presume, the writer’s supervisor) ignored the subordinate’s opinion (threatening association rights). As decision makers, managers must determine which subordinates should share in the decision-making process and how much weight their opinions should be afforded (Mintzberg, 1975). Thus, managers must sometimes perform the necessary evil of denying or dismissing subordinate input. As Narrative 172 makes clear however, managers must communicate to subordinates that their concerns are heard and understood (tending association rights) even when their opinions do not influence decisions. Three of four coders saw interpersonal injustice in this narrative, but an additional coder saw the injustice issue as distributive. Other ways in which subordinates’ association rights can be threatened include broken promises or commitments from their manager:
Narrative 175: I’m responsible for selling advertising. One of my accounts had failed to sign an annual contract. The advertising director (my direct supervisor) had indicated that he would handle the problem with the account. Several weeks passed and he didn’t contact the account. I gave him a note reminding him that I didn’t have a contract. He came to my desk and threw the note on my desk and said he didn’t have to be reminded that he would handle it when he got ready.

The subordinate linked his or her anger and sense of injustice to the fact that the manager broke a commitment to help the subordinate complete his or her work task (threatening association rights). In addition, the subordinate’s narrative recounts the unacceptable way in which the manager responded to his or her request that he honor his commitment. The manager appears to have used the hard influence tactic of issuing an order (Yamaguchi, 2005; Yukl & Falbe, 1990), which was perceived as unfair and prompted the subordinate’s perception of injustice. As in the previous example, the content of the speech act itself (i.e., the request) rather than the way in which the manager communicated it seems to be the salient issue; three of four coders saw interpersonal and informational injustice issues in this narrative.

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We include one final example of a situation in which a manager threatens the subordinate’s association rights:
Narrative 196: A new program was set up at the high school where I teach. It was called “Operation On Time” and all the teachers who were on their planning period were to help gather the tardy students and take them to the gym. One male student absolutely refused to go to the gym. The assistant principal and the principal were both called into the situation. Instead of backing the teacher and suspending or punishing the student in some way the principal “babied” the student to the gym. Had this occurred with a first time offense for the student the resulting feelings would have been different but this student was a repeat offender and eventually was suspended for fighting before the end of the term. I felt very angry because the principal did not back the teacher. He had to make himself look good in the eyes of the student. He has always and still is on the “buddy system” with the students.

As evidenced by the aforementioned interaction, a subordinate’s perception of injustice was motivated by a sense of lack of fairness or consideration for his or her right to the manager’s support or inclusion within the group. (The group to which the subordinate deserves access may be the leader-member dyad, the subordinate’s functional area, a group of employees with concerns related to the subordinate’s, or customer/suppliers.) In any case, the fact that the subordinate is a member of a group entitles him or her access to the other members of the group. Association rights often relate to distributive norms of fair allocation of a manager’s time and attention. Three of four coders saw distributive, procedural, and interpersonal injustice in this story. Unfortunately, even when managers invite subordinates to attend meetings or consult them before making decisions, they may not truly support association rights. For instance, although active listening skills—sometimes called attending skills (Egan, 1998)—seem simple enough (e.g., make eye contact with the subordinate, summarize what you heard the subordinate say), for today’s information-ridden, overworked managers, taking the time necessary to “attend” to the concerns of subordinates may be viewed as an expendable or even superfluous task. As much of the justice literature would suggest however, having a voice with management is crucial for subordinates (Folger, 1977; Folger, Rosenfield, Grove, & Corkran, 1979; Lind, Kanfer, & Earley, 1990; Tyler, Rasinski, & Spodick, 1985). Linking rapport management and organizational justice theory, we propose the following:
Proposition 4a: Managers who threaten a subordinate’s association rights will increase subordinate perceptions of distributive, procedural, interpersonal, or informational injustice.
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Proposition 4b: Managers’ use of rapport management behaviors that tend association rights (e.g., active listening) will moderate the relationship between association threatening actions (including necessary evils) and subordinate perceptions of distributive, procedural, interpersonal, or informational injustice.

CONCLUSIONS

Like Rahim et al. (2000), we believe sociolinguistic theory can explain why perceptions regarding the social sensitivity of interpersonal treatment relate to justice judgments. Thus, we attempted to demonstrate the value of rapport management theory for explicating the relationship maintenance behaviors that are crucial in the effective performance of “necessary evils” (Molinsky & Margolis, 2005). By linking rapport management and organizational justice theory, we advanced eight propositions about the role of rapport management in managers’ interpersonal communication behavior toward subordinates that might guide future research. In the final section of our article, we discuss the limitations of our research and then highlight several implications.
Limitations

There are several limitations to the research we have reported in this article. First, the narratives are retrospective accounts of interactions between the narrator and his or her manager. However, as Liu and Buzanell (2004) noted in evaluating the value of retrospective data, our participants were able to provide specific details of their interactions with managers. In addition, although observation and recording of actual interactions would overcome the disadvantages of retrospective accounts and result in greater face validity, the increased time and effort required for collection would mean they would also decrease external validity (i.e., generalizability) because far fewer narratives would have been available for analysis. Second, the narratives represent only the employee’s perspective of the interaction and ignore the manager’s perspective. Although a comparison of the perspectives might be illuminating in a variety of ways, there is no doubt that the employee’s perspective is the crucial one for understanding and managing employee perceptions of (in)justice. Most important, we want to acknowledge what we see as the main limitation of our analysis in this article. First, the lack of agreement among coders on the specific category of (in)justice (i.e., distributive, procedural,

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informational, or interpersonal) means that our propositions about the relationship between rapport management categories and specific justice categories are truly exploratory. For instance, following Proposition 1a linking threats to quality face wants to interpersonal injustice, we would like to conclude that interpersonal injustice is always linked to face threats. However, a few narratives were coded positively for interpersonal injustice and negatively for threats to face wants. For instance, in Narrative 175 discussed earlier, a threat to association rights was linked to interpersonal and informational injustice. Here is an excerpt from another example:
Narrative 130: Every day, with my job being an automotive electronics tech, with management stopping my train of thought, customers who don’t understand the complexity of my work.

For this narrative, all four coders saw interpersonal injustice issues, but none of the coders categorized rapport management problems as related to face wants. Rather, interpersonal injustice was linked to a threat to autonomy rights in this story. Despite our inability to draw definitive conclusions about the relationship between rapport management issues and categories of justice, coders did identify both injustice and rapport management violations in 108 (99%) of the 109 narratives involving a subordinate’s anger toward a manager. Although reliability made inferential statistical analysis inappropriate, the richness and emotional quality of the narratives themselves support the usefulness of rapport management theory for interpreting subordinates’ subjective experience of (in)justice at work. Thus, we feel confident that, in general, injustice is related to rapport management violations by managers.
Implications

The ineffectiveness of hard interpersonal influence tactics such as a highhanded manner, demands/orders, warnings, and threats (Yamaguchi, 2005; Yukl & Falbe, 1990) appears to be explained by their concomitant violation of rapport management norms. Such tactics violate autonomy rights. On the other hand, the relative effectiveness of soft interpersonal influence tactics, such as a friendly manner, praise, flattery, and sympathy (Yamaguchi, 2005; Yukl & Falbe, 1990), appears to be explained by their positive effect on the management of rapport. Such tactics tend face wants. In contrast, the relationship between rational interpersonal influence tactics, such as reasoning,

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promise, commitment, question, and self-disclosure (Yamaguchi, 2005; Yukl & Falbe, 1990), and rapport management is less clear. Future research might concentrate specifically on the connection between influence tactics and rapport management theory. Another area of research we intend to explore is the development and validation of a survey instrument for measuring rapport management behavior. Such a measure is essential within a research context to test whether the use of rapport management behavior is statistically related to the quality of the leader-member relationship and organizational justice. It is likely that the quality of rapport between a manager and a subordinate will also be related to a number of other variables that have already been studied (i.e., trust, commitment, etc.). A measure of leader rapport management behavior will provide the necessary tool to assess the usefulness of sociolinguistic theory in explaining additional variation in the quality of manager-subordinate relationships and therefore in individual and/or unit performance. Also, a measure of leader rapport management behavior would be useful in an applied context to help managers better understand specific behaviors that might be constructive or destructive to his or her relationships with subordinates.

A measure of leader rapport management behavior will provide the necessary tool to assess the usefulness of sociolinguistic theory in explaining additional variation in the quality of manager-subordinate relationships and therefore in individual and/or unit performance.

The final area of research we want to mention should explore the relationship between a manager’s use of rapport management and the development of trust toward that manager. Rapport management behaviors may offer subordinates clues regarding the degree to which managers are concerned with their interests and, therefore, whether they could be trusted to behave in a way that is beneficial to subordinates. These behaviors may lead to increased trust toward the manager. Whitener, Brodt, Korsgaard,

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and Werner (1998) proposed that five categories of supervisory behavior influence employees’ perceptions of trustworthiness: (a) behavioral consistency, (b) behavioral integrity, (c) sharing and delegation of control (cf. autonomy in rapport management), (d) communication (e.g., accuracy, explanations, and openness; cf. association in rapport management), and (e) demonstration of concern (cf. face in rapport management). Over time, use of rapport management strategies by a manager may provide evidence of trustworthiness within the consistency, control, communication, and concern categories outlined by Whitener et al. and therefore may lead to increased trust toward the manager. Organizational managers cannot avoid performing necessary evils. Instead, they must demonstrate interpersonal sensitivity while performing such tasks to manage subordinate perceptions of (in)justice. We hope readers will agree that rapport management behavior appropriately describes the interpersonal norms managers must strive to uphold to perform their organizational role effectively with their subordinates.

NOTES

1. Organizational justice has been linked to emotion in general and anger in particular. Cahn’s (1949) definition of the sense of injustice includes anger, along with outrage, horror, shock, and resentment, as the sympathetic reaction to an attack: “Nature has thus equipped all men to regard injustice to another as personal aggression” (p. 24). More recently, Mikula (1986) reported that 68% of participants recounting unjust events reported emotional responses like anger, rage, and indignation. In general, “When organizational decisions and managerial actions are deemed unfair, the affected employees experience feelings of anger, outrage, and a desire for retribution” (Folger & Skarlicki, 1999, p. 35). 2. The prompt was as follows: “Remember a time when you felt angry at work. Please describe the incident that made you angry. Specifically, please tell us the situation, what led up to it, who was involved, and how angry it made you.”

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