In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Organizational Justice

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Justice and Beyond
  • Journals
  • Multifoci Justice
  • Person-Centric Justice
  • Behavioral Ethics
  • Organizational Justice versus Social Justice
  • Cross-Cultural Perspectives
  • Measuring Justice

Psychology Organizational Justice
Deborah Rupp, Meghan Thornton-Lugo
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 September 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0044


Organizational justice refers to employee perceptions of fairness in the workplace. These perceptions can be classified into four categories: distributive, procedural, informational, and interactional. Distributive justice reflects perceptions regarding fairness of outcomes, while procedural justice reflects perceptions of processes that lead to these outcomes. A third type of justice, informational justice, relates to the accounts provided for justice-related events. Finally, interpersonal justice reflects perceptions of interpersonal interactions and treatment. Research demonstrates that, although correlated, these specific justice judgments are each predictive of work- and worker-related outcomes. Whereas this classic taxonomy reflects historically relevant theories that sought to identify criteria or decision rules used to determine the fairness of outcomes, procedures, and interpersonal treatment, more contemporary perspectives have cast a broader net. Contemporary justice research examines the reasons employees care about justice (content theories) and the processes that lead to both the formation of fairness perceptions, as well as individuals reactions to perceived injustice (process theories). While the lion’s share of the justice literature to date has focused on the degree to which employees view themselves as fairly treated, more recent theories consider employees’ reactions to the treatment of others. This has also led researchers to consider employees’ reactions to corporate social responsibility (considered a special case of third-party justice perceptions). Finally, justice research has become increasingly multilevel, as research has begun to explore how shared perceptions of justice form within work groups and organizations (justice climate), and has considered how justice perceptions and reactions vary across cultural groups (e.g., organizational and national cultures).

General Overviews

The following articles and books provide general overviews of organizational justice. Brockner 2010 discusses the interactive effects of different justice perceptions within the workplace and the empirical evidence supporting these interactions. Cohen-Charash and Spector 2001 demonstrates meta-analytically that distributive, procedural, and interactional justice are strongly related but not identical. Colquitt, et al. 2001 also examines the distinctions between facets of justice in relation to each other and work-related outcomes. Greenberg and Colquitt 2005 is a handbook that provides a broad overview of justice research. Greenberg and Cropanzano 2001 delves into more specific research topics within the domain of organizational justice. Rupp 2011 also provides a general overview organized around the argument that fairness involves complex perceptual processes involving time, memory, and networks of interactions and experiences. Finally, Cropanzano 2001 discusses research regarding justice and its practical applications in organizations.

  • Brockner, Joel. 2010. A contemporary look at organizational justice: Multiplying insult times injury. New York: Routledge.

    In this work, Brockner presents recent research on the interactive effects of justice in the workplace. Specifically, Brockner examines “outcome favorability” and “process fairness,” which are similar to distributive and procedural justice, respectively.

  • Cohen-Charash, Yochi, and Paul E. Spector. 2001. The role of justice in organizations: A meta-analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 86.2: 278–321.

    DOI: 10.1006/obhd.2001.2958

    This is an overview demonstrating that distributive, procedural, and interactional justice are similar but distinct. Furthermore, these authors demonstrate that justice affects job performance, affective commitment to the organization, and citizenship behaviors.

  • Colquitt, Jason A., Donald E. Conlon, Michael J. Wesson, Christopher O. L. H. Porter, and K. Yee Ng. 2001. Justice at the millennium: A meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research. Journal of Applied Psychology 86.3: 425–445.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.86.3.425

    A meta-analysis of distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice effects. The results confirm that all four categories of justice are highly related but not identical, as evidenced by their unique impacts on job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behaviors, and withdrawal.

  • Cropanzano, Russell, ed. 2001. Justice in the workplace. Vol. 2, From theory to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Edited text that discusses theoretical underpinnings of organizational justice and related topics, including cognition, cross-cultural research, and context. After examining justice theory, the contributing authors examine human resource management in relation to justice.

  • Greenberg, Jerald, and Jason A. Colquitt, eds. 2005. Handbook of organizational justice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    A comprehensive edited book providing a holistic perspective on organizational justice. The editors begin with a historical perspective on organizational justice and then present chapters by various justice scholars that delve into issues including conceptual distinctions, justice-related processes, and relevant outcomes.

  • Greenberg, Jerald, and Russell Cropanzano, eds. 2001. Advances in organizational justice. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

    This work is an edited collection that touches on topics including fairness heuristic theory, construct validation, and diversity in relation to justice.

  • Rupp, Deborah E. 2011. An employee-centered model of organizational justice and social responsibility. Organizational Psychology Review 1:72–94.

    DOI: 10.1177/2041386610376255

    Rupp’s paper presents current theories of justice arguing that employee perceptions are informed by personal experiences, the experiences of others, and observations of justice events.

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