HRM and Interactional Justice

With the need to focus on interpersonal treatment during the implementation of procedures, Beis and Moag introduced the third type of justice in 1986, which is interactional justice (Colquitt et al. , 2001; Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). Interactional justice focuses on the quality and sensitivity of interpersonal treatment during the execution of procedures or in determining outcomes (Rahim, Magner, & Shapiro, 2000). Interactional justice has two facets, informational justice and interpersonal justice (Colquitt et al., 2001).

Informative justice focuses on the information provided for employees to understand why such procedures were used hence, arriving at certain decision outcomes. Employees may accept unfavorable decision outcomes to be fair if given the adequate explanation or justification (Colquitt et al. , 2001; Folger & Cropanzano, 1998). This facet of justice focuses on the content of the explanation that provides excuses or justification for such outcomes or procedures (Folger & Cropanzano, 1998).

Interpersonal justice focuses on the quality of interpersonal treatment by parties concerned during the execution of procedures or in determining outcomes (Colquitt et al. , 2001; Folger & Cropanzano, 1998). Sensitivity of authorities to politeness, respect, and dignity, which are characteristics of this facet, may help alter employees’ reactions to outcomes. The perception of social sensitivity of interpersonal treatment is related to justice perception as articulated by Edmond Cahn (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001; Rahim et al. , 2000).

Embedded in Cahn’s (as cited by Rahim et al., 2000) analysis is the assumption that people view the self as sacred. This sense of sacredness assumes an inviolate personality. In defining the boundaries of the sacred self, we must examine the profanities that violate it (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). These four profanities are derogatory judgments, deception, invasion of privacy, and disrespect (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001; Rahim et al. , 2000). The first profanity is derogatory judgments. By nature, people are generally concerned about the truthfulness and accuracy of judgments others make about them.

When there are wrongful or unfair accusations and unfair attacks, these arouse their sense of injustice. In the study of Bies and Tripp (as cited by Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001), wrongful or unfair accusations regarding a person and his performance cause a feeling of injustice. This happens when a person feels that he is being discredited for his performance, ideas or contributions and this affects their perception of fairness. Bad mouthing another, talking behind another person’s back, and name-calling are unfair attacks that are perceived to be unjust and awaken the boundaries of the self-sacred (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001; Rahim et al. , 2000).

The second profanity is deception. Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Giving one’s trust causes a person to be vulnerable and when that person is deceived the sense of injustice is aroused. People feel manipulated and are unable to give their trust again ones deceived or given broken promises (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). This causes anger and resentment that evokes feeling of outrage (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). The third profanity is invasion of privacy. According to Stone and Stone, Derlaga and Berg, and Jourard (as cited by Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001), people want a part of themselves to be kept private.

People are concerned with the legitimacy of disclosing personal information about one person to another. Revelation of confidences and secrets without permission is a violation of trust and privacy that arouses the sense of injustice. Asking improper questions that are too personal are also considered invasion privacy (Bies & Moag, as cited by Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). Finally, employees feel invasion of privacy when their supervisors use spies to find out who among the subordinates are disloyal (Bies & Tripp, as cited by Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001).

The last profanity refers to the signs conveying respect for the intrinsic value or worth of an individual (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). The quality of interpersonal treatment has a strong impact on the person’s perception of oneself (Steele, as cited by Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). Any form of disrespect such as inconsiderate actions, abusive words and actions, and coercion arouses a person’s sense of injustice (Bies & Moag; Tyler & Lind, as cited by Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001; Tyler, 1989). Similarly, employees who do not receive timely feedback or appropriate explanations of decisions feel unfairly treated.

Employees who are treated with dignity and respect, and given proper and adequate explanation regarding procedures and decisions made will perceive to be fairly treated. Employees perceive a sense of injustice even if he is not denied of fair an exchange in outcomes or formal procedures required in decision-making when aspects of   social conduct with implications of other people’s dignity and well being have been violated (Colquitt et al. , 2001; Folger & Cropanzano, 1998). Greenberg, J. & Cropanzano, R. (2001) Organizational justice and human resource management. Ca. : Sage Publication. Consequences of Interactional Justice

Studies have been conducted to study the relationship of interactional justice with other work related outcomes. Variables such as leader evaluation (Colquitt, 2001; Colquitt et al. , 2001), leader-member exchange (Cropanzano, Prehar, & Chen, 2002), and organizational citizenship behavior (Colquitt et al. , 2001) were said to have strong relations with the third type of organizational justice. Leader evaluation is strongly related to interactional justice. This dimension of justice is closely associated to the individual involved in giving the explanation, information, and justification of procedures and decisions of the organization.

Since this is the task of the immediate supervisor, employees’ perception of interactional justice has a strong effect on their leader evaluation (Colquitt, 2001; Colquitt et al. , 2001). An immediate supervisor who does not treat subordinates properly, uses foul language, or does not give information regarding decisions violates interactional justice and will most likely receive a negative evaluation. On the other hand, an immediate supervisor who is sensitive to interpersonal treatment during the execution of procedures or in determining outcomes is perceived to be just and will most likely receive a positive evaluation.

Increase in organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is another consequence of interactional justice. OCB are extra-role behavior that are not related to the compensation design of an organization but contribute to its effectiveness (Niehoff & Moorman, 1993). Employees who are treated with respect and dignity form a positive perception regarding their organization. When they are given proper explanation with adequate information regarding procedures and unfavorable distribution of rewards they feel important to the organization.

On the basis of reciprocity, employees who perceive fair interpersonal treatment are most likely to exhibit extra-role behaviors like being helpful, conscientious, and improving their performance to benefit their organization (Niehoff & Moorman, 1993; Williams et al. , 2002). When employees are mistreated interpersonally they reduce or eliminate their extra-role behaviors to restore equity (Kickul et al. , 2001). HRM and Distributive Justice Distributive justice addresses the organizational reward system and the perceived fairness of the outcomes received by the members of an organization (Williams, Pitre, & Zainuba, 2002).

According to Greenberg and Cropanzano (2001), an individual evaluates whether or not an outcome is moral, ethical, or appropriate when making a distributive justice judgment. In order to determine what is fair or not, individuals must create a standard called a referent (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). These referent standards are used to judge distributive fairness which is why outcome justice where an individual receives a reward, cannot be determined without weighing it against a similar outcome and basis of comparison (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001).

Much of distributive justice research and model is derived form studies done by Adams and Homans (as cited by Carson, Carson, & Toma, 1997). Consequences of Distributive Justice Several studies done in the past have discussed the relationship of distributive justice on employee attitude and behavior such as pay satisfaction (Folger & Konovsky, 1989; Tremblay, Sire, & Balkin, 1998), job satisfaction (Colquitt et al. , 2001), and employee performance (Williams, 1999). These three variables that were mentioned is said to have a strong relationship with distributive justice.

Distributive justice has a strong relationship with pay satisfaction (Tremblay et al. , 1998). Pay satisfaction is a personal outcome of how employees are satisfied with the pay that they receive from the organization (McFarlin & Sweeney, 1992). When employees perceive that the organization is not giving them the appropriate compensation, there is injustice in distribution of rewards. This perception of unfair distribution leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction in rewards received. As a result, employees who do not perceive distributive justice will have lower pay satisfaction.

On the other hand, employees perceive distributive justice to be fair when they receive rewards that are appropriate to the work they do. Employees tend to compare their rewards and contributions to other people called referents (Tremblay et al. , 1998). When employees see that their salary is enough compared to referent others, they perceive the organization to be fair in distribution of rewards (Tremblay et al. , 1998). This state of equity makes employees happy with the compensation they receive, which is a sign of pay satisfaction.

Therefore, employees who perceive distributive justice in their organization will have a higher pay satisfaction (Folger & Konovsky, 1989; Tremblay et al. , 1998). Distributive justice is also a good predictor of job satisfaction (McFarlin & Sweeney, 1992; Colquitt et al. , 2001). Job satisfaction is the general attitude of employees towards their job. Employees with high level of job satisfaction project a positive attitude towards their job while employees who are dissatisfied with their job projects a negative attitude towards their job.

Job satisfaction is influenced by the difference between the compensation employees receive and the amount they believe they should receive. Employees who perceive just distribution of outcome have higher level of job satisfaction compared to employees who perceives unjust distribution of rewards (Folger & Konovsky, 1989; Schmiesing et al. , 2003). Employees who believe that their organization is just by compensating them according to their work or performance will most likely hold a positive attitude towards their job, which indicates job satisfaction.

Employees who perceive that there is an unjust distribution of rewards will most likely hold a negative attitude towards the organization due to dissatisfaction (Schmiesing et al. , 2003). Perceptions of distributive justice can influence the level of employee performance as well. When there is an unfair outcome distribution, employees will perceive the organization to be unjust for not compensating them accordingly. Based on the equity theory explained earlier, this perception of injustice motivates employees to change their behavior or attitude in order to restore equity.

To be able to do this, employees who perceive unjust outcome distribution will decrease their input or the level of their job performance. On the other hand, employees who perceive just distribution of rewards will increase the level of their job performance believing that the organization is fair and will reward their performance accordingly. Therefore, just distribution of outcome increases the level of employee performance (Linquist, 1995; Williams, 1999). HRM has a critical role in ensuring that  procedural, interactional, and distributive justice are practiced within the organization.

From the review of related literature, it is clear that these have empirically demonstrated linkages to employee commitment, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Given that these constructs are linked to these positive outcomes, it is imperative that HRM exercise means to ensure that justice is felt and observed within the organization. HRM has substantial control over the consistency with which rules and procedures are applied to the organization, and even to the equitable distribution of rewards.

These are just some of the venues in which justice, and corresponding employee extra-role behaviors may be encouraged by HRM.


s Byme, Z. S. , Rupp, D. E. & Eurich, T. (2003). Effects of discrete emotions on distributive, procedural and interactional justice. Florida: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Carson, K. D. , Carson, P. P. & Toma, A. G. (1997). An empirical assessment of theoretical models of distributive and procedural justice: A step toward  literature integration. Louisiana: Harvard Business Review.