Justice and employee attitudes during organizational change: The mediating role of overall justice

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    ARTICLE IN PRESSG ModelRAP-325; No. of Pages 10Revue europenne de psychologie applique xxx (2014) xxxxxx

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    ustice and employee attitudes during organizational change:he mediating role of overall justice

    ustice et attitudes des travailleurs lors dun changement organisationnel : le rlediateur de la justice globale

    . Marzuccoa,, G. Mariqueb, F. Stinglhamberb, K. De Roeckc, I. Hanseza

    Faculty of psychology and educational sciences, universit de Lige, boulevard du Rectorat, 5 (B32), 4000 Lige, BelgiumInstitute of psychological sciences, universit catholique de Louvain, place Cardinal Mercier, 10 bote L3.05.01, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, BelgiumISEG School of Management (LEM-CNRS), 3, rue de la Digue, 59000 Lille, France

    a r t i c l e i n f o

    rticle history:eceived 29 April 2013eceived in revised form 13 August 2014ccepted 26 August 2014

    eywords:rganizational justiceverall justicerganizational change

    a b s t r a c t

    Introduction. Several studies have investigated the mediating role of overall justice (OJ) in the rela-tionships between specific dimensions of justice and employee attitudes. However, prior research hasneglected to examine OJ during the process of organizational change, as suggested in fairness heuristictheory (FHT).Objective. This study aims to replicate the results of previous studies and expand them by examining,in two contexts of organizational change implementation, the mediating role of OJ in the relationshipsbetween procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice (PJ, ITJ, and IFJ, respectively) and employeeattitudes (job satisfaction, turnover intentions, and organizational commitment).Methodology. We surveyed 537 employees experiencing a company reorganization (Study 1) and 188employees experiencing a merger (Study 2).Results. Each dimension of justice is related to OJ, which in turn is associated to employee attitudes.Furthermore, bootstrap results indicated that OJ mediates the effects of PJ, ITJ, and IFJ on job satisfactionand turnover intentions (in both studies), and on affective, normative, and continuance commitment (inStudy 2).Conclusion. Our findings show the importance of fairness during organizational change. Treatingemployees fairly in times of change is crucial for managers.

    2014 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

    ots cls :ustice organisationnelleustice globalehangement organisationnel

    r s u m

    Introduction. Plusieurs tudes ont investigu le rle mdiateur de la justice globale (JG) dans les relationsentre les dimensions spcifiques de la justice et les attitudes des travailleurs. Cependant, les tudesantrieures ont nglig dexaminer la JG durant le processus de changement organisationnel, commesuggr par la thorie heuristique de la justice (THJ).Objectifs. Cette tude a pour but de rpliquer les rsultats des tudes prcdentes et de les largir, enexaminant, dans deux contextes de changement organisationnel, le rle mdiateur de la JG dans les rela-tions entre la justice procdurale, interpersonnelle et informationnelle (JP, JIT et JIF, respectivement) etPlease cite this article in press as: Marzucco, L., et al. Justice and employee attitudes during organizational change: The mediating roleof overall justice. Rev. Eur. Psychol. Appl. (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.erap.2014.08.004

    les attitudes des travailleurs (satisfaction au travail, intention de quitter et engagement organisationnel).Mthode. Nous avons administr un questionnaire 537 travailleurs faisant lexprience dune rorgan-isation (tude 1) et 188 travailleurs vivant une fusion (tude 2).Rsultats. Chaque dimension de justice est lie la JG, laquelle est associe aux attitudes des travailleurs.En outre, les rsultats du bootstrap indiquent que la JG mdie les effets de JP, JIT et JIF sur la satisfactionau travail et lintention de quitter (dans les deux tudes), et sur lengagement affectif, normatif et decontinuit (tude 2).

    Corresponding author.E-mail addresses: l.marzucco@ulg.ac.be (L. Marzucco), geraldine.marique@uclouvain.be (G. Marique), florence.stinglhamber@uclouvain.be (F. Stinglhamber),

    ihansez@ulg.ac.be (I. Hansez).

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.erap.2014.08.004162-9088/ 2014 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


  • ARTICLE IN PRESSG ModelERAP-325; No. of Pages 102 L. Marzucco et al. / Revue europenne de psychologie applique xxx (2014) xxxxxx

    Conclusion. Nos rsultats montrent limportance de lquit durant un changement organisationnel.Traiter les travailleurs de manire quitable lors dun changement est crucial pour les managers.





    Research has largely demonstrated that organizational justicean potentially create powerful benefits for both employees andrganizations (e.g., Cropanzano, Bowen, & Gilliland, 2007). Indeed,rganizational justice has been found to be an important determi-ant of several employee attitudes and behaviors at work, suchs job satisfaction, organizational commitment, trust, or orga-izational citizenship (e.g., Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, &g, 2001). Over the last decades, organizational justice has thusecome a key concept in the organizational behavior literature andhe importance of its role has been widely recognized. Althoughesearch on the different dimensions of justice has been fruitful,ome scholars have argued that employees form their impressionsf justice in a holistic manner and that consequently the real impactf justice judgments depends on an overall perception of fairnesse.g., Lind, 2001a; Lind, 2001b; Lind & van den Bos, 2002; Shapiro,001).In line with this view, fairness heuristic theory (FHT; Lind,

    001a) posits that individuals use information pertaining to theifferent justice dimensions to form perceptions of overall justiceOJ), and that OJ, rather than specific justice dimensions, influencesmployee attitudes. Empirical evidence (e.g. Ambrose & Schminke,009; Jones & Martens, 2009) has been found for the mediatingole of OJ in the relationships between specific justice dimensionsnd employee attitudes. However, the strength of the relation-hips between specific dimensions of justice and OJ has variedcross studies. For instance, Jones and Martens (2009, Study 1nd 2) found that interpersonal, informational, and distributiveustice were strong predictors of OJ, while procedural justice didot explain variance in OJ. In Ambrose and Schminkes first study2009), distributive justice, interactional justice but also proceduralustice had significant direct effects on OJ. In their second study,rocedural and interactional justice were found to significantly pre-ict OJ whereas distributive justice did not, contrary to their owntudy 1 and to Jones and Martens (2009) results. Finally, Kim andeung (2007) found that distributive, procedural, and interactionalustice explained significant variance in OJ. Given this apparent dis-repancy in results, scholars have urged to further explore this areae.g., Ambrose & Schminke, 2009; Holtz & Harold, 2009).

    Moreover, prior studies on the formation and reactions towardJ perceptions (e.g., Ambrose & Schminke, 2009; Jones & Martens,009; Kim & Leung, 2007) have neglected to examine justice per-eptions during the process of organizational change.1 Yet, Lind2001a) argues that times of organizational change (i.e., neweadership, restructuring, or merger) can trigger utilization ofustice-relevant information (i.e., dimensions of justice) to developJ perceptions. This important tenet of FHT, neglected so far, canrobably explain the inconsistency of the results in the afore-entioned studies. Lind and van den Bos (2002) also posit that

    t is particularly relevant to integrate justice issues in contexts ofPlease cite this article in press as: Marzucco, L., et al. Justice and emplof overall justice. Rev. Eur. Psychol. Appl. (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.

    hange, since sensitivity to justice increases in such situations ofncertainty. We therefore believe that the study of the mediatingole of OJ in the relationships between specific justice dimensions

    1 Indeed, Ambrose and Schminke (2009) and Kim and Leung (2007) did not men-ion any particular change event in the organizations they surveyed. Jones andartens (2009) conducted their research in an organization, which had undergone

    merger; however, they actually surveyed employees four and five years after therganizational change. 2014 Elsevier Masson SAS. Tous droits rservs.

    and employee attitudes should be given more consideration duringthe process of change (i.e., when the change is actually occurringand people are experiencing the change) as suggested in FHT.

    The present research aims to replicate the results of aforemen-tioned studies and expand them by examining, through two studiesconducted during the implementation of the change, the extent towhich employees perceptions of specific dimensions of justice (i.e.,procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice) are associatedto OJ perceptions and how, in turn, OJ is related to several employeeattitudes at work (i.e. job satisfaction, turnover intentions, andorganizational commitment).

    1. Theoretical background and hypotheses

    1.1. Fairness heuristic theory (FHT) and the mediating role ofoverall justice (OJ)

    Literature on organizational justice has grown impressively overthe last 25 years (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001). Justice scholarshave mainly focused on the dimensionality of organizational justiceand proposed a four-factor structure (Colquitt, 2001; Colquitt et al.,2001) encompassing distributive justice (DJ fairness of decisionoutcomes), procedural justice (PJ fairness of the processes thatlead to decision outcomes), interpersonal justice (ITJ respect andpropriety of treatment) and informational justice (IFJ adequacy ofexplanations). However, several researchers suggest that focusingon specific justice dimensions only may not be the best way to reacha complete understanding of individuals justice experiences (e.g.,Lind, 2001a; Shapiro, 2001).

    More precisely, FHT (Lind, 2001a) posits that employees face afundamental social dilemma when they are confronted with a deci-sion to cooperate with an authority: while such cooperation canprovide personal benefits to employees, it can also expose themto the risk of being exploited. Employees resolve this dilemma byusing a fairness heuristic (i.e., a cognitive shortcut) which helpsthem decide whether to cooperate or not. Lind and van den Bos(2002, p. 196) refer to this fairness heuristic as a global impres-sion of fair treatment. Based on Linds (2001a) description, Rodelland Colquitt (2009) suggested that this global judgment of fairtreatment can be distinguished from the traditional justice dimen-sions in two respects. First, OJ is an overarching judgment, whereasjustice dimensions focus on specific matters (e.g., outcome dis-tribution, decision-making procedures, interpersonal treatment,or communication aspects). Second, OJ typically refers to a socialentity (e.g., supervisor, organization) as a whole, whereas justicedimensions are more typically connected to a specific event (e.g.,performance appraisal, merger, etc.; cf. entity vs. event distinction,Cropanzano, Byrne, Bobocel, & Rupp, 2001). Building on FHT, somejustice scholars (e.g., Jones & Martens, 2009) have argued that over-all perceptions are central to understanding peoples experiencesof justice. Lind (2001a) suggests that OJ perceptions are formedquickly during a judgmental phase by drawing information fromprocedural, distributive and interpersonal elements. Once OJ per-ceptions are formed, people enter a use phase in which OJ guidesoyee attitudes during organizational change: The mediating role1016/j.erap.2014.08.004

    social decisions and influences employee attitudes and behaviors.As such, FHT explicitly suggests that overall justice plays a mediat-ing role in the relationship between the dimensions of justice andemployee attitudes and behaviors.


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    ARTICLERAP-325; No. of Pages 10L. Marzucco et al. / Revue europenne d

    .2. Justice and organizational change

    While justice perceptions have been studied in numerous situ-tions such as hiring, performance appraisal, or downsizing (e.g.,ropanzano et al., 2007), several scholars argue that the study ofustice really takes its full meaning in context of change (e.g., Oreg

    van Dam, 2008). Lind and van den Bos (2002) suggest that its particularly appropriate to study justice in context of change.ccording to these authors, a situation of organizational changelearly represents high levels of uncertainty (Lind, 2001a), andfairness and uncertainty are so closely linked that it is in factmpossible to understand the role of one of these concepts in orga-izational psychology without reference to the other (Lind & vanen Bos, 2002, p. 181). Through FHT, Lind (2001a) specifically positshat organizational change (e.g., change in leadership, merger orestructuring) can trigger utilization of dimensions of justice toevelop OJ. Organizational change would likely push people intoudgmental mode to have a fresh look at justice-relevant informa-ion. The following processes are thus expected in times of change:athering and processing of specific dimensions of justice, quickormation of a new OJ judgment, and then transition to use phaseLind, 2001a).

    Building on FHT, we may reasonably assume that the study of OJnd its mediating role between specific dimensions of justice andmployee attitudes is more accurate during change, and thereforeeserves more attention in such context. We therefore examined

    during the implementation of organizational change how PJ,TJ, and IFJ2 are associated to OJ and how, in turn, OJ is related toob satisfaction, turnover intentions, and commitment. These out-omes are particularly relevant in such contexts of change. Indeed,afferty and Griffin (2006, cited in Rafferty & Restubog, 2010)sserted that job satisfaction and turnover intentions are impor-ant indicators of employees adjustment to organizational change.mbrose and Schminke (2009) and Colquitt and Shaw (2005) alsorgued that global attitudes such as commitment would be moreppropriately determined by an overall measure of justice thanpecific dimension...


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