Theoretical and Methodological Aspects of Justice Climate Research in Organizational Context
Keywords:justice climate (mis)alignment, organizational justice climate, supervisory justice climate, peer justice climate
AbstractFairness is important to people in different roles, especially in the workplace. Scientists have traditionally studied organizational justice at the individual level of analysis, dealing with employees' individual justice evaluations. Although this perspective remains important, justice can be explored at the group level of analysis as well. Justice climate represents team members' shared perception of justice in the workplace. It usually emerges through modeling behavior, or through the social information processing. Shared justice perceptions can originate from the processes that, as the time goes by, make co-workers more similar to one other. Individuals and teams assess three things: outcomes (distributive justice), decision-making processes (procedural justice) and interpersonal treatment (interactional justice). Teams, as well as individuals, can attribute (in)justice to numerous sources, as long as they hold that source accountable for the treatment they are experiencing. Therefore, employees can evaluate formal authorities' justice (climate), such as supervisor or organization as a whole, but the justice (climate) from the ones that do not have the formal authority over each other, their peers or clients. Accordingly, employees can simultaneously perceive one source as entirely fair while the other as completely unfair. Perceptions of justice, both individual and group ones, are associated with numerous organizationally relevant outcomes, expressed in the form of attitudes or behaviors. The interaction of different sources of justice (climate) has significant effects on employees (shared) reactions as well. Justice climate, as a collective construct, is differentially operationalized at the higher level: additive compositional model, direct consensus model, referent-shift approach model, dispersion model and the process composition model. This paper provides an overview of the up-to-date findings, as well as the guidelines for further justice climate research.