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Journal of Applied Psychology

2003, Vol. 88, No. 2, 295–305

Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
0021-9010/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.2.295

Organization Structure as a Moderator of the Relationship Between
Procedural Justice, Interactional Justice, Perceived Organizational
Support, and Supervisory Trust
Maureen L. Ambrose and Marshall Schminke

This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.

University of Central Florida
Organizational justice researchers recognize the important role organization context plays in justice
perceptions, yet few studies systematically examine contextual variables. This article examines how 1
aspect of context— organizational structure—affects the relationship between justice perceptions and 2
types of social exchange relationships, organizational and supervisory. The authors suggest that under
different structural conditions, procedural and interactional justice will play differentially important roles
in determining the quality of organizational social exchange (as evidenced by perceived organizational
support [POS]) and supervisory social exchange (as evidenced by supervisory trust). In particular, the
authors hypothesized that the relationship between procedural justice and POS would be stronger in
mechanistic organizations and that the relationship between interactional justice and supervisory trust
would be stronger in organic organizations. The authors’ results support these hypotheses.

and supervisory social exchange is influenced by the structure of
the organization.

Organizational justice research has flourished during the last 20
years. Until recently, this research has focused primarily on establishing the direct effect of various types of justice on outcomes;
however, the boundary conditions of these effects has remained
relatively unexamined. Recently, Cropanzano, Byrne, Bobocel,
and Rupp (2001) suggested that organizational justice researchers
would be well served to examine moderators, noting the conceptual advances such research provides. Cropanzano et al.’s belief
about the potential benefits of examining moderators is consistent
with recent meta-analyses on organizational justice. These metaanalyses suggest that the explanatory power of moderator variables
is likely to be strong (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt,
Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001). For example, Colquitt et al.
found that study artifacts rarely explained more than a third of the
variation in meta-analytic correlations between justice variables
and outcomes, suggesting the existence of important moderators.
In this study, we consider one such moderator: organizational
structure.
In this article we explored the moderating effect of organizational structure by building on two recent findings in organizational justice research: that organizational structure affects justice
perceptions (Schminke, Ambrose, & Cropanzano, 2000) and that
different forms of justice differentially affect outcomes through
their effect on organizational and supervisory social exchange
relationships (Masterson, Lewis, Goldman, & Taylor, 2000; Cropanzano, Prehar, & Chen, 2002). This study integrated these two
lines of justice research by suggesting that the relative impact of
procedural and interactional justice on the quality of organizational

Organizational Structure
Organizational structure, defined as “the recurrent set of relationships between organization members” (Donaldson, 1996, p.
57), is one of the most ubiquitous aspects of organizations (Clegg
& Hardy, 1996). Donaldson noted that structure includes— but is
not limited to—power and reporting relationships such as those
identified in organization charts, behaviors required of organization members by organizational rules, and patterns of decision
making (e.g., decentralization) and communication among organization members. Further, it encompasses both formal and informal
aspects of relationships between members.
Research has demonstrated that organizational structure interacts with a variety of factors to influence organizational performance. These factors include environmental change (e.g., Lawrence & Lorsch, 1967), organizational size (e.g., Pugh, Hickson,
Hinings, & Turner, 1969), organizational production technology
(e.g., Perrow, 1967; Woodward, 1965), and organizational strategy
(Chandler, 1962). Thus, structure provides a natural choice to
consider in exploring moderating effects.
The most prevalent distinction for describing fundamental differences in organizational structure is that of mechanistic and
organic structural forms (Burns & Stalker, 1961; Slevin & Covin,
1997; Stopford & Baden-Fuller, 1994). Mechanistic structures are
characterized as rigid, tight, and traditional bureaucracies. In
mechanistic settings, power is centralized, communications follow
rigid hierarchical channels, managerial styles and job descriptions
are uniform, and formal rules and regulations predominate decision making. By contrast, organic organizations are characterized
by flexible, loose, decentralized structures. Formal lines of authority are less clear, power is decentralized, communication channels
are open and more flexible, and formal rules and regulations take
a back seat to adaptability in helping employees accomplish goals
(Burns & Stalker, 1961; Khandwalla, 1977; Lawrence & Lorsch,

Maureen L. Ambrose and Marshall Schminke, Department of Management, University of Central Florida.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Maureen L. Ambrose, Department of Management, University of Central Florida, P.O. Box 161400, Orlando, Florida 32816 –1400. E-mail:
maureen.ambrose@bus.ucf.edu
295

1980) analysis of procedural justice did not distinguish between procedural and interpersonal dimensions of justice because the interpersonal distinction was made by later justice researchers introducing the concept of interactional justice (Bies. Shepphard. 2000) explored direct (main) effects of several structural dimensions on justice perceptions.. we also considered the moderating effect of structure. most display some characteristics of both. Thus. Most recently. organic structures have typically been associated with increased job satisfaction (Meadows. Lind and Tyler (1988) also acknowledged the importance of context and recommended examining contextual variables. Toward this end. In particular. & Cropanzano. Schminke et al. procedural fairness will be most salient to individuals. & Minton. whereas the structure of other organizations makes them systematically unfair. Likewise. power relationships. Jennings & Seaman. 46). 1980b). (and previous justice researchers) focused on how structure affected perceptions of fairness. However. Greenberg (1993) suggested that there are ways of structuring organizational contexts such that procedural and distributive justice are obtained. Ambrose and Schminke proposed that the criteria on which procedural justice judgments are based will vary as a function of organizational structure. The single empirical study that explicitly examined organizational structure and justice (Schminke. Leventhal maintained that different procedural rules may be given different weights and that the “relative weight of procedural rules may differ from one situation to the next” (p. we extend Leventhal’s (1980) and Tyler’s (1996) logic. 296 AMBROSE AND SCHMINKE 1967). 1987. 1993). We suggest that different forms of justice will be differentially important under varying conditions. should play a role in determining fairness. Ambrose and Schminke suggested that in mechanistic organiza- . Leventhal’s (Leventhal. (2000). On the basis of Leventhal’s framework. 1997). size). 1980a. little empirical research has done so. 1997. like rules. Rahman & Zanzi. & Fry. 1993. Lewicki. providing due process. Sheppard et al. We agree with this premise. we examined the effect of structure on the relationship between justice perceptions and social exchange relationships. This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly. 329) that procedural rules take in determining justice judgments. we suggest that in some situations certain forms of justice are more influential in how individuals assess their relationship with their organization. justice. Karuza. we are interested in the effect of organizational structure on the relationship between justice and social exchange relationships. other researchers have suggested that context should influence the relative importance of procedural and interpersonal aspects of fairness. Organizational Justice and Organizational Structure Research on organizational justice has thrived in the last 30 years. 2000). whereas Schminke et al. structural characteristics of organizations. Thus. Although this research is voluminous (for reviews. not a dichotomy. Parthasarthy & Sethi. formalization. Second. 1995). we expect individuals will focus on interactional justice. For example. found that more decentralized organizations were perceived as more procedurally fair than centralized organizations and that smaller organizations were perceived as more interactionally fair than large organizations. In this study. we argue that under certain structural conditions. and intermediate stages exist between the two archetypes. This work has suggested that individuals’ sense of justice is partially a product of the organization and its structure. 1988. Under other structural conditions. For example. allowing participation. we are interested in a more holistic assessment of structure as mechanistic or organic. This omission is particularly surprising in that seminal work on procedural justice explicitly has recognized the importance of context. Some conceptual work has specifically considered the effect of organizational structure on perceptions of organizational justice (Greenberg. we focus on how structure affects the relationship between fairness and outcomes. In particular. Leventhal (1980) stated that different procedural rules may be more or less important in different situations. 1990. our interest is somewhat different than that of Schminke et al. and so on. centralization. different justice criteria will be differentially important under varying circumstances. However. Structure has been shown to influence individual-and team-level outcomes as well. our focus is on the moderating effects of organizational structure. (1993) suggested that the structure of some organizations makes them systematically fair. Ambrose and Schminke (2001)— building on Leventhal’s (1980) work— discussed the relationship between organizational structure. For example. It is important to note that these two structural forms represent ends of a continuum. rather than considering separate aspects of organizational structure (e. 1986). First. and opportunities for voice. Tyler (1996) concluded that different criteria are used to judge the fairness of procedures in different contextual settings. Keeley. Leventhal. and learning (Slevin & Covin. 1989. team innovation (Meadows. Ambrose. We believe that this research reflects an important first step in understanding the relationship between structure and justice. Cummings. 1989). rather than exploring the direct or main effects of structure on fairness perceptions.This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. 1980. Cropanzano and Greenberg (1997) suggested that organizational environments affect “the relative weights and specific forms” (p. we extend Leventhal’s (1980) logic to a consideration of the relevance of different types of organizational justice in different structural contexts. Research has demonstrated that organizational structure affects organizational performance (Covin & Slevin. Konovsky. Specifically. Procedural Justice and Mechanistic Structures Ambrose and Schminke (2001) discussed the effect of organizational structures on procedural fairness by exploring the relationship between structure and each of Leventhal’s (1980) six procedural fairness rules. however. More recently. see Cropanzano & Greenberg. & Dunham. Gardner. Tyler and Degoey (1995) demonstrated that the relative influence of structural (process) and relational (interpersonal) attributes on justice judgments varied across settings. Turban and Keon (1993) found that structure moderated the relationship between individuals’ personality characteristics and job choice. organizationbased self-esteem (Pierce. and ethics. No organization is perfectly organic or mechanistic. For example. 1993). Just as Leventhal suggested that in some situations certain rules are more influential in how individuals assess procedural justice. Bies & Moag. there is strikingly little research on the role that organizational context—which includes organizational structure—plays in determining perceptions of fairness. as we noted above.g. Although substantial theoretical work has considered the relationship between organizational structure and justice.

Organizational Structure. when interactional justice is most relevant. we expected that the increased relevance of interactional justice in organic organizations to be reflected in the influence of interactional justice on the quality of supervisory social exchange. Masterson et al. They concluded that procedural justice is more relevant in mechanistic organizations than in organic organizations. individuals will be most likely to form supervisory exchange relationships because they have more information relevant to that level of exchange. 1997). Procedures and distributions that are favored for practical. 196). we expected an interaction effect. these procedures will come to be seen not simply as functional. & Rogers. Pillai. (1980) stated that procedures that facilitate system goals will receive greater weight. Specifically.This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. Cropanzano. and individuals’ justice concerns will focus on procedural justice. Leventhal et al. Next. Konovsky & Pugh. .g. and interactional justice is most strongly related to supervisor-referenced outcomes. Goldman. & Schminke. correctability. We suggested previously that procedural justice will be more salient in mechanistic organizations and that interactional justice will be more salient in organic organizations. formal procedures will be seen as the standard by which fairness should be evaluated..g. and representativeness—receive the most weight. Konovsky & Pugh.g. (2000) provided a clear description and test of the mediating effect of social exchange in the justice– outcome 297 relationship. they demonstrated that the procedural justice– outcome relationship was mediated by the quality of individuals’ social exchange relationship with the organization (operationalized by individuals’ perceptions of organizational support). Therefore. recent research on organizational justice has also demonstrated that different types of justice may have different effects on different outcome variables. 1947) by relying more on formal rules and procedures. Masterson et al. accuracy. 1994. a stronger relationship will exist between interactional justice and quality of supervisory social exchange relationships. Interactional Justice and Organic Structures The central goal of an organic organization differs from that of its mechanistic counterpart. we predicted that the relationship between procedural justice and POS would be stronger in mechanistic than in organic organizations. Mohler. First. However. this constitutes an interaction . Fairhurst. and Supervisory Trust Our discussion to this point suggests that different types of justice will be more important under different structural conditions. & Niehoff. this research has demonstrated that procedural justice is most strongly related to organization-referenced outcomes. Again. That is. & Williams. 1999. We operationalized organizational social exchange via perceived organizational support (POS) and supervisor social exchange with supervisory trust. 1989). & Taylor. Moorman et al. STRUCTURE AND JUSTICE tions. They rely more on interpersonal factors like face-to-face communication (Lengel & Daft. “justice perceptions are important inputs into employees’ judgments of the quality of their exchange relationships with their supervisors and organizations” (p. Schriescheim. 1994. bias suppression. This research suggests that social exchange processes mediate the relationship between justice and outcomes. that have also been used in previous research (Konovsky & Pugh. This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly. 2000. but as “right and good . we used two constructs identified by Cropanzano et al. Rupp.. (1980) that the rules that are consistent with system goals become the standard by which fairness is evaluated. In particular. a stronger relationship will exist between procedural justice and the quality of organizational social exchange relationships. and interpersonal interactions (Nadler & Tushman. informal control systems (Ouchi. Recent research has suggested that procedural and interactional justice enhance the development of social exchange relationships (Cropanzano. utilitarian reasons come to be supported by a network of moral values that defines those procedures and distributions as fair” (p. [justified] on moral as well as pragmatic grounds. Further. In the most comprehensive examination of these relationships. Cropanzano et al. Likewise. Masterson. Lewis. thus.. Second. 1998). Therefore. Perceived Organizational Support. In this study. 1980). The significance of these interpersonal influences in organic organizations should increase the relevance of interpersonal aspects of justice and. the relative importance of interactional justice. we considered the role of structure in these relationships. in organic organizations. 2001. Moorman. we suggest that in mechanistic organizations. organizational commitment. five rules that reflect formal aspects of procedures— consistency. whereas interactional justice affected supervisor-referenced outcomes (e. we suggest that individuals will focus more on interactional justice concerns in organic organizations than in mechanistic organizations. 1994. The interactional justice– outcome relationship was mediated by the quality of individuals’ social exchange relationship with their supervisor (operationalized by the quality of leader–member exchange). More importantly. Most recently. 2000. When procedural justice is most salient.. In particular. with structure moderating the relationship between procedural justice and POS. (2001) suggested that researchers have several choices of operationalizations for social exchange. Organizational Justice. in mechanistic organizations. they found that procedural justice affected organization-referenced outcomes (e. discussion and elaboration (Courtright. turnover intentions). 1988). . As a result. Consistent with the argument of Ambrose and Schminke (2001) is the assertion of Leventhal et al. Moorman et al. individuals are most likely to develop organizational exchange relationships because they will have more information that is relevant for this level of social exchange. & Chen.. Organic organizations are based on interpersonal transactions. Other researchers have found similar effects for the mediating effect of social exchange (e. Blakely. 740). 1998). Similarly. we expected that the relationship between interactional justice and supervisory trust would be stronger in organic than in mechanistic organizations.. 2002. (2000) stated. Prehar. A central goal of mechanistic organizations is to eliminate the human element from decision making (Weber. Hypothesis 1: The relationship between procedural justice and POS will be stronger in mechanistic than in organic organizational structures. researchers have begun to examine the source of these differences. Figure 1 illustrates our two hypotheses based on these operationalizations. Masterson et al. 1998). The increased attention to one type of justice or the other should affect the social exchange relationship that develops. Therefore. supervisory organizational citizenship behaviors [OCBs]).

the theoretical work on structure and justice discussed above is silent with respect to distributive justice. medical.82. Masterson. with structure moderating the relationship between interactional justice and supervisory trust. & Wolf. James [1982] 1 Nine departments had rwg values that fell below . Four departments from four separate organizations yielded only one or two responses and were eliminated from the sample. (b) procedural justice. thereby preserving anonymity. To ensure that aggregation was appropriate. (c) POS.6 years of age with 5. 1985). effect. food service. 1984. with a mean and median rwg of . entertainment. interactional justice. However. and distributive justice.. 1982). we used Khandwalla’s (1976/1977) seven-item scale.76. James. Cropanzano et al. Distributive Justice and Organization Structure Our discussion thus far has focused on the effect of organizational structure on the relationship between procedural and interactional justice and outcomes. and supervisory trust. “A strong insistence on a uniform managerial style throughout the business unit” vs. (ICC[1] for these ratings. This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly. (e. However. our final sample consisted of 506 individuals from 98 departments of 64 organizations.70. (2000) did not include distributive justice in their study.83).. included measures of (a) organizational structure.00 reflecting perfect agreement across all members. 41% were female. Method Participants Participants were from 102 departments of 68 organizations in the southeast United States. Kozlowski & Hattrup. we included distributive justice and its interaction with structure in our analyses as controls. Respondents averaged 33. with 1.. retail. and 9 returned three (a sufficient number to allow us to aggregate our measure of organizational structure. we first assessed the degree of agreement for the structure measure by calculating both the within-group interrater reliability statistic (rwg) statistic (James.4 years of experience in their current organization. Thus. Thus. Cropanzano et al. department. One included all of the respondents. we do not expect organizational structure to moderate the relationship between distributive justice and the social exchange variables. POS. and outcome variables.. Procedure Figure 1. indicating that the departments can be reliably differentiated on individual perceptions of structure (James. distributive justice is not an essential part of research examining the differential relationships between procedural justice and interactional justice. In the article.. 11 returned four. Schminke et al. We aggregated individual-level perceptions of structure to group-level measures of shared perceptions of structure (Covin & Slevin. was . sex. therefore. 1994. (2002) controlled for distributive justice. informal control. George & James. Konovsky & Pugh. However. Measures Organizational structure.g. The pattern and significance of the results is the same for both sets of analyses. Masterson et al. Five to seven survey packets (described below) were hand delivered to employees in each Each survey packet began with instructions and demographic questions (tenure. For example. manufacturing. 2002). his or her perceptions organizational fairness. aggregation of individual-level perceptions to a group level is desirable (Rousseau. which were presented in random order across subjects. Each survey packet contained a postage-paid envelope so that the respondent could mail the survey directly back to the researchers. we report results on the basis of the full sample. 2001). education. we must also consider how organizational structure might influence the relationship between distributive justice judgments and outcomes.99. Across the 98 departments in our sample. see below). Seventy-eight departments yielded five or more surveys. age) followed by several instruments to assess characteristics of the subject’s organization. 1992) and the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) for each department (Bartko.”) Items were scored such that higher values represented a more mechanistic structure (Cronbach’s coefficient ␣⫽ . social exchange. Hypothesis 2: The relationship between interactional justice and supervisory trust will be stronger in organic than in mechanistic organizational structures. not relevant to these relationships (Cropanzano et al. and (d) supervisory trust. Organizational structure as a moderator of the relationship between procedural and interactional justice and perceived organizational support and supervisory trust. 1993. Following Covin and Slevin (1989) and Slevin and Covin (1997). which is considered high [Bliese. 2000]. We conducted two sets of analyses. Fifty-nine percent of participants were male. heavy dependence on informal relationships and the norm of cooperation for getting things done. in keeping with previous research (e.59 to . 1993. but made no explicit predictions for it in their analyses. These instruments.1 The ICC(2) for these ratings was . suggesting that aggregation was appropriate (George. rwg ranged from . Participants indicated along a 7-point scale the degree to which paired statements described the structure of their work unit.70. Demaree. In the main. 2001. technology. “Managers’ operating styles allowed to range freely from the very formal to the very informal” and “Tight formal control of most operations by means of sophisticated control and information systems” vs. The rwg statistic reflects the degree of interrater agreement between members of a group. Moreover. Each organization was contacted through current students and alumni of a large southeastern university. and governmental organizations. insurance.38. 2000). which is often considered a standard guideline for an acceptable level of agreement for aggregation. and the other included only those from companies with rwg values greater than or equal to . which measures the degree to which departments reflected mechanistic or organic characteristics. 1989. Organizational structure is a shared phenomenon. typically considerably lower than ICC[2]. Distributive justice is generally considered to be more closely related to economic exchange than social exchange and is. A total of 510 responses out of 540 surveys (94. 1976.AMBROSE AND SCHMINKE 298 This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. . 1990). including financial. “Loose.4%) were received and tabulated.g. 1982). Similarly.

94 0. our outcome variables. Individuals indicated their agreement on a 7-point Likert-type scale with 11 items that assessed their relationship with their immediate supervisor (Cronbach’s ␣ ⫽ . Chi-square for the five-factor model was ␹2(692.001.” POS. These scales assess the extent to which the respondent’s experience reflects attributes of fair outcomes. (In this case. HLM is a more appropriate linear modeling tool than OLS because our variables represent different levels of analysis—individuals and departments (Bryk & Raudenbush. N ⫽ 479) ⫽ 8210. IFI ⫽ . we expected to find an interaction effect between procedural justice and structure.08 (Browne & Cudeck. presented in Table 2.18 0. and correlations for all variables. we examined the correlations between our four predictor variables. this fit was deemed adequate. revealing a significant interaction 2 In separate analyses not reported here. 4. and CFI ⫽ .91 3.02. Supervisory trust.89.23 1. Cummings.14. interactional justice.50. M SD 1 2 3.40*** .. N ⫽ 479) ⫽ 2617. IFI ⫽ .20. treated in a polite manner. explanations used to make job decisions reasonable. For each analysis.55. p ⬍ . and interactions along a 5-point Likert-type scale (1 ⫽ to a small extent. Of these 18 correlations. ␹2(3. ␹2(14.58. IFI ⫽ .g. we assessed the fit of a five-factor model for the distributive justice. We used Colquitt’s (2001) measures for distributive. Hoffman.52*** . one indicates acceptable fit. Armeli.41*** .66*** 3 — ⫺.87. N ⫽ 479) difference ⫽ 5593.16 — . POS was assessed by using the eight-item short version of the Eisenberger POS scale (Eisenberger.57. Given the strong theoretical basis for this measure. and tenure. HLM allows for the investigation of nested models such as this.83). Seven items (e. and interactional justice. we examined several commonly used indicators of fit: root-meansquare error of approximation (RMSEA). procedures have been applied consistently.14** . departmental n ⫽ 98 and individual n ⫽ 506. reliability at the aggregate level. Cronbach’s ␣ ⫽ .08.87.) Distributive. & Lynch. 1996).84 1. and interactional justice. procedures. ICC[2]. Nine items assessed perceptions of interactional justice. p ⬍ .001. Although two of the indices are slightly below conventional levels.g.. following the recommendations of Aiken and West (1991). suggesting a better fit than the alternative model (Schumacker & Lomax. Results We conducted a series of confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) to verify the factor structure for our measures. 1997). even those who aren’t close friends of my supervisor.99 1. Because individuals from a particular department share the same (aggregated) organizational structure value. and CFI ⫽ . 1992.55*** . treated with respect) and five measured perceptions of explanations (e.0.08 . the models reported here do not include control variables. is the appropriate measure.23 3. First. and three potential controls: age. values over 10. argued that for organizational characteristics [like structure]. ** p ⬍ . 5 ⫽ to a great extent). Perceived procedural justice Perceived interactional justice Perceived distributive justice Organizational structure Perceived organizational support Supervisory trust This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. Hypothesis 1 predicted that organizational structure would moderate the relationship between procedural justice and POS. N ⫽ 479) ⫽ 159. and comparative fit index (CFI).08 . in which sample size (and thus appropriate degrees of freedom) varies across variables. the indices border the acceptable range. “help is available from my organization when I have a problem.12 3. ␹2(702.40*** ⫺. Thus. Table 1 shows the means. and CFI ⫽ . treating these as independent observations violates OLS assumptions of independence. and the fit indices were RMSEA ⫽ . sex.10. Four measured perceptions of interpersonal sensitivity (e.g.96).89.g.92). The five-factor produced a significant improvement in ␹2 over the one-factor model. we used hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) procedures. RMSEA ⫽ . To test our hypotheses.90).47*** — *** p ⬍ .001.01. p ⬍ . Sample items included “I can talk freely to my supervisor about difficulties I am having at work and know that (s)he will want to listen” and “Most people. support this hypothesis. p ⬍ . procedures have been free of bias) assessed perceptions of procedural justice (Cronbach’s ␣ ⫽ . followed by the fully specified model including both main and interaction effects (Model 2).05).03 .. 1990) indicate a good model fit. 1997). We also compared the fit of the five-factor model with a single factor model. standard deviations.50. For the organizational structure measure. We used McAllister’s (1995) measure of supervisory trust. we first tested a main-effects-only model (Model 1).” “my organization really cares about my well-being”) by using a 7-point Likert-type scale (Cronbach’s ␣ ⫽ .2 In addition. and lack of a theoretically strong alternative model.05 0. and supervisory trust items. 1993) and IFI and CFI scores above .35*** — .. only 1 (age and distributive justice) was significant (r ⫽ .53*** . Four items (e.STRUCTURE AND JUSTICE 299 Table 1 Summary Statistics and Zero-Order Correlations Variable 1.001. 3. In another effort to allow more direct comparisons with previous research. with POS and supervisory trust as the dependent variables (see Tables 2 and 3). p ⬍ . The results of our HLM analysis.01 — . 2. outcomes are justified given performance. candid communication. we mean centered the interactions to reduce multicollinearity. trust and respect him/her as a coworker.05. outcomes are appropriate for work completed) assessed perceptions of distributive justice (Cronbach’s ␣ ⫽ . This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.95 3. All values were below 2. POS. 6. Individuals indicated their agreement with the eight items (e.13 3.90 (Bentler & Bonnett. procedural. incremental fit index (IFI).. procedural justice. RMSEA ⫽ .86). RMSEA scores below .) To allow comparisons with previous research. An examination of the resulting variance inflation factor indices indicated that multicollinearity was not a concern.0 indicated that multicollinearity may be a problem (Ryan. . In general. 5. its previous use. 1997).g. Including these three controls in the HLM models revealed no effects for any of the three and no changes in significance level or direction for any of the main or interaction effects in the models. procedural.31*** 4 5 6 — ⫺.

The change in R2 (.31 (0. all of these main effects must be interpreted in the context of the interactions. when individuals report that the formal procedures are especially fair).33 (0. Structure influences the relationship between procedural justice and POS and between interactional justice and supervisory trust. 3 OLS analyses of the HLM models reflected in Tables 2 and 3 resulted in nearly identical results.83. The type of justice that is consistent with the goals of the system is the most influential in individuals’ assessment of their relationship. but modeling the relationships reflected in Table 2 in an OLS framework resulted in an R2 of .20 (0. and supervisory trust.25)*** 2. which mirrors that of the Procedural Justice ⫻ Structure Interaction for POS. Table 2 Results of Hierarchical Linear Modeling Analysis for Interaction Effects Between Procedural Fairness and Mechanistic Structure Dependent variable: POS Model 1 Model 2 Independent variable Parameter estimate Parameter estimate Perceived procedural justice Perceived interactional justice Perceived distributive justice Organizational structure (mechanistic) Procedural Justice ⫻ Structure Interactional Justice ⫻ Structure Distributive Justice ⫻ Structure Constant 0.g. structure moderates the relationship between procedural justice and POS. This interaction is illustrated in Figure 2 and demonstrates the stronger relationship between procedural justice and POS judgments in mechanistic organizations. when formal procedures are unfair).37 (0..05)*** ⫺0. F(2. Our results indicate that the relationship between procedural justice and POS is stronger (i.05)*** ⫺0. These results are consistent with our extension of Leventhal et al.46 for the fully specified model.3 Following Cohen and Cohen (1983). the crossover point occurs within a relevant range of the x variable (in this case 1 SD above and below the mean). only procedural and interactional justice had significant positive main effects.. Procedural justice was more strongly related to POS in mechanistic organizations. . p ⬍ . All significant and nonsignificant effects were replicated in OLS. Discussion In this study we predicted that organizational structure would moderate the relationship between procedural and interactional justice and social exchange relationships.04 (0. also suggesting an interaction effect between interactional justice and structure.05). Specifically. The most obvious implication of this research is that context matters in organizational justice and more specifically that organizational structure matters.31 (0.05)*** 0. The results also revealed significant positive main effects for all three types of justice on POS and negative main effects of organizational structure on POS (mechanistic structures were negatively associated with POS).AMBROSE AND SCHMINKE 300 This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.41 for the fully specified model.20 (0.08)** 0. revealing a significant interaction between interactional justice and structuretwo ( p ⬍ . and interactional justice was more strongly related to supervisory trust in organic organizations. its presence or absence has a less pronounced effect where such formality is not expected.05. we examined the relationship between organizational structure.05). Values in parentheses indicate standard error. changes in variance accounted for by the interactions are common in field research. 1961). p ⬍ . Lubin. it suggests that at high levels of procedural justice (e.g. HLM does not produce an R2 statistic. Thus.06) 0.06) 2. between procedural justice and structure ( p ⬍ .03) from Model 1 to Model 2 was also significant.001. The crossover point of the regression lines indicates that this interaction is ordinal (Aiken & West. We consider each of these findings below. 1991. we plotted this interaction by using justice perceptions one standard deviation above and below the mean for high and low values. Although procedural justice plays a role in organic organizations. The change in R2 (. First. is shown in Figure 4.06)*** 0. Figure 2 illustrates several interesting contrasts. These small. *** p ⬍ . For supervisory trust. These results support our hypotheses. organizational justice.37 (0.001. POS ⫽ perceived organizational support. individuals respond more negatively in mechanistic organizations than in organic organizations.25)*** Note. POS.477) ⫽ 54. individuals in mechanistic organizations report higher levels of POS than do individuals in organic organizations.01) from Model 1 to Model 2 was significant. Individuals appear to be more sensitive to procedural justice in an organization that is characterized by a highly formal. rigid. respectively. OLS analysis replicating the models reflected in Table 3 resulted in an R2 of . First.01. Results presented in Table 3 support this hypothesis. Hypothesis 2 predicted that organizational structure would moderate the relationship between interactional justice and supervisory trust. F(2. That is.477) ⫽ 44.06)*** ⫺0. and bureaucratic system and in which formal procedures are part of the daily landscape. Evans (1985) argued that interactions explaining as little as 1% additional variance should be considered as important.09 (0. Table 3 also reveals a significant interaction effect between procedural justice and structure.e. This relationship is illustrated in Figure 3 and demonstrates the stronger relationship between interactional justice and supervisory judgments in organic organizations.79.05)*** 0.06)*** 0.32 (0. However. when the level of procedural justice is low (e. ** p ⬍ . This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.. Procedural justice is more strongly related to supervisory trust in mechanistic organizations than in organic organizations. However. albeit significant.06)*** 0.24 (0. Our results support these predictions. This relationship.21 (0. (1980).25 (0. the slope of the regression line is steeper) in mechanistic organizations than in organic organizations.

.04) ⫺0. some previous research has shown that trust mediates the relationship between procedural justice and outcomes (Konovsky & Pugh. Moderating effect of organization structure on the relationship between procedural justice and perceived organizational support.22)*** 2. Table 3 Results of Hierarchical Linear Modeling Analysis for Interaction Effects Between Interactional Fairness and Organic Structure Dependent variable: Supervisory trust Model 1 Model 2 Independent variable Parameter estimate Parameter estimate Perceived procedural justice Perceived interactional justice Perceived distributive justice Organizational structure (mechanistic) Procedural Justice ⫻ Structure Interactional Justice ⫻ Structure Distributive Justice ⫻ Structure Constant 0. albeit more strongly in mechanistic organizations. thus increasing the importance of the fairness of these interactions. this relationship is particularly intriguing in light of Rupp and Cropanzano’s (2002) finding that supervisory social exchange may affect organization-referenced outcomes.05.13 (0. Values in parentheses indicate standard error. it may be that the supervisor is perceived as an extension of the organization. when interactional justice is low.71 (0. Although we did not predict that procedural justice would be related to trust.96 (0. It is clear that the relationship between procedural justice and trust warrants further investigation. structure moderates the relationship between interactional justice and supervisory trust (Figure 3).05)*** 0.11 (0.STRUCTURE AND JUSTICE 301 This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.06 (0.01.65 (depending on the operationalization of procedural justice) between perceptions of procedural justice and trust. a dotted line indicates organic structural form. which distinguished between procedural justice and interactional justice. 1994.18 (0.05)** 0. However. This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly. with their flexibility and reliance on informal networks and face-to-face communication.05)** 0.58) ⫺0. an examination of the figures and beta weights indicates that regardless of organiza- Figure 3. Indeed.02 (0. the supervisor’s behavior is more likely to be constrained by rigid rules and regulations.70 (0. Colquitt et al. the fairness of organizational procedures generalizes to affect reactions to the supervisor as well as the organization. A solid line indicates mechanistic structural form. *** p ⬍ . For example. Our results also revealed main effects of all three types of justice and organizational structure on POS.’s measure of procedural justice combines both procedural justice and interactional justice items. and thus. When interactional justice is high. (2000) study. In organic organizations. In such settings. Second.09 (0.06) 2. interactional justice is a more influential determinant of trust. Konovsky and Pugh did not measure interactional justice and Pillai et al. ** p ⬍ . inconsistencies in the measures and constructs examined make it difficult to draw strong conclusions about the procedural justice— trust relationship from this research. In mechanistic organizations. did not find an effect of procedural justice on supervisory social exchange.06) 0. The Masterson et al. Pillai et al. 1999).47 to . individuals in organic organizations report higher levels of supervisory trust than do individuals in mechanistic organizations. Figure 2.02 (0.05)* 0. individuals in organic organizations report lower levels of trust than do their mechanistic counterparts. The relationship between procedural justice and supervisory trust was stronger in mechanistic organizations than in organic organizations. Unfortunately. A solid line indicates mechanistic structural form. . * p ⬍ . Organic organizations. The effect of interactional justice on supervisory trust is more pronounced in organic organizations.04 (0. Although these main effects are qualified by the higher order interactions. Our results suggest that procedural justice may affect the quality of supervisory social exchange. Moderating effect of organization structure on the relationship between interactional justice and supervisory trust.07)** 0. (2001) found metaanalytic correlations of . make interpersonal interactions more relevant or available or both.10.27 (0. The form of this interaction is similar to that between procedural justice and POS.04)*** 0. a dotted line indicates organic structural form. However. The interaction between structure and procedural justice was also significantly related to supervisory trust.04) ⫺0.25)*** Note.84 (0.

Common method variance would contribute to conformity in resulting relationships rather than contrasting results like these. (2000) study. We cannot say with certainty why our correlational results do not mirror those of Schminke et al. In the Schminke et al. they also demonstrate that such training may have a more pronounced effect in organic organizations where the organizational structure may facilitate its positive effect. and tenure are not strongly related to justice perceptions. Schminke et al. 1993. Recent meta-analysis results (CohenCharash & Spector. They suggest that organizational interventions aimed at improving perceptions of fairness should explicitly consider the role of organizational structure in the development of those perceptions. The results have practical importance as well. 2001). For example. Bobocel & Holmvall. First. What is possibly more important.1 years). but several possibilities exist.6 years). 1988. only the relative impact of each varies across organization type. In addition. Konovsky & Brockner. Although our study does not directly address the influence of structure on justice.’s measures of procedural and interactional fairness were adapted from Tyler and Schuller (1990). the differential effect of procedural justice and interactional justice on outcomes is consistent with these assertions.g. with an average age of 33. One potential concern is that our results could be explained by common method variance. For example. 2001. are differences in operationalization of the structure construct. Although our results demonstrate the importance of interactional justice for both mechanistic and organic organizations. the relationship between the quality of social exchange and perceptions of fairness is most likely reciprocal. all three types of justice are important for POS. These are attributes that are likely to be associated with low levels of POS. The differential effect of structure on procedural and interactional justice provides additional evidence for the independence of these two constructs. considered four distinct aspects of structure (two measures of centralization. 2001) have suggested that age. Research indicates that larger organizations (also characteristic of mechanistic organizations) are associated with higher absenteeism rates and lower overall satisfaction (Indik. our use of an aggregated structure measure decreased our dependency on singlerespondent impressions. The effect of structure on POS may provide some additional insight for existing research on organizational structure. Like all studies. 1993. there has been debate in the justice literature regarding the independence of procedural justice and interactional justice (e. 1992). but as predicted. Philipsen. participants were midwestern. 1997) suggested that organizations should invest in supervisor training to increase the sensitivity of interpersonal interaction. Our measure of structure reflects a single. Further. this one has some limitations. (2000) found that two measures of centralization were related to procedural justice and that organizational size was related to interactional justice. As Cropanzano et al. 136 –141). an area identified as important to our understanding of organizational justice (see Lind & Tyler. A solid line indicates mechanistic structural form. occurred in opposite directions for procedural and interactional justice. 302 AMBROSE AND SCHMINKE Figure 4. including higher overall levels of disagreement. although previous justice research has suggested our causal ordering. education. Rousseau. In addition. the two studies employed different measures of justice. and size) and hypothesized about each aspect’s influence on procedural and interactional fairness. Finally. participants in the two studies differed somewhat. Third. conflict. 1993).This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. 1964). It may be that POS mediates the relationship between structure and these outcomes. Although our study did not assess the influence of specific justice criteria. which has suggested that structure exerts a direct effect on justice. and were 59% male. gender. This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly. some association might be expected due to response style. 1978.6 years.. mechanistic structures. Schminke et al. are likely to alienate employees (Blauner. our interaction effects were significant. It is also useful to consider our findings in the context of previous research on organizational structure and justice. and managerial attempts to dominate interactions. Gilliland. Schminke at al. Courtright et al. Similarly. This effect suggests that mechanistic organizations are generally perceived as less supportive than organic organizations. this research provides one of the few empirical tests of contextual variables on justice perceptions. justice researchers have suggested organizations improve perceptions of fairness by drafting formal polices that will be seen as fair (Folger & Lewis. Our findings suggest that this approach may be most fruitful in mechanistic organizations. and were more heavily female (65%) than our participants. race. demographic factors may interact in some way with organizational type and structure to influence fairness perceptions. The main effect for structure is also interesting. & Diederiks. a finding that is consistent with previous research on organizational structure. it is also possible that organizational structure affects the type of social exchange relationship that is important to individuals and that the social exchange relationship affects the importance of the different types of justice. such as those found in formal bureaucracies. whereas those in the present study were based on Colquitt’s (2001) more recent work. Skarlicki and Latham (1996. Moderating effect of organization structure on the relationship between procedural justice and supervisory trust. Grandey. Second. researchers suggest that rigid. However.) Nevertheless.4 years. In addition. the correlations in Table 1 reveal no direct relationship between structure and any of the three forms of justice. (2000). the results provide support for Leventhal’s (1980) and Tyler’s (1996) assertion that justice criteria receive different weights in different settings. however. 1963. In particular. formalization. Because many of the variables were taken from a single respondent. a dotted line indicates organic structural form tional structure. pp. holistic measure of structure. Our participants were southeastern. (The organizational justice literature does not speak to issues of geographical differences. Stevens. First. (1989) found mechanistic structures to be associated with increasingly dysfunctional interaction patterns between employees and managers. (2001) . average tenure of 5. had greater experience with their organizations (mean tenure 9. were slightly older (mean age 38. The results have both theoretical and practical implications.

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