Opening the Black Box Between Justice and Reactions to Unfavorable Outcomes in the Workplace

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Though several studies have shown that the perception of social justice can effectively reduce negative attitudinal and behavioral reactions to an unfavorable outcome, few studies have tried to empirically test explanations of this mitigating effect. The present study was undertaken to fill this gap by examining under what conditions social justice suppresses negative reactions, such as exit, neglect, and aggressive voice, and stimulates positive reactions, such as considerate voice and patience. Two potential moderators were derived from the control model (Thibaut and Walker, 1975, 1978) and the group-value model (Lind and Tyler, 1988, Tyler and Lind, 1992). Ninety-eight teachers participated in the study. Results support the hypotheses that overall procedural and distributive justice discourage negative reactions, particularly when employees value control or standing, or both. Moreover, distributive justice stimulates positive reactions (i.e., considerate voice) when employees value control. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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