Interactions Between Justice Levels and Trajectories Predicting Behavioral Reciprocity


[We’re pleased to welcome authors Alex Rubenstein of the University of Memphis, David G. Allen of Texas Christian University, and Frank A. Bosco of the Virginia Commonwealth University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “What’s Past (and Present) Is Prologue: Interactions Between Justice Levels and Trajectories Predicting Behavioral Reciprocity,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Rubenstein discusses the events and circumstance that inspired his research:]

JOM_42_5_Covers.inddWe began this paper by considering the nature of how people experience fairness in the workplace. Certainly any instance of fair or unfair treatment can have an effect on employee’s attitudes and behavior in the future, but we were also interested in how the past can differently shape employee’s interpretation of the present. For instance, imagine two employees who think their organization is moderately fair. Previous studies would expect them to have similar attitudes and be equal organizational citizens in the future. However, we wondered whether past fairness experiences—specifically, the trajectory of experienced justice in the past, if has been getting better, worse, or staying the same—could color the interpretation of the present differently for these employees.

Our results, which are arguably the first that specifically examine how employees behaviorally reciprocate to this interactive pattern of past and present treatment, show that indeed the past is prologue when it comes to justice. We examined how present justice levels and trajectories over time interacted to predict helping behavior as well as future employee turnover behavior. That is, two employees who rate the exact same levels of current fairness at work may reciprocate differently (in terms of helping other employees and even their decision to remain a member of the organization) because of potentially different past trends of experienced justice. We found that the highest levels of helping, and the lowest levels of turnover were for those employees with high current levels of perceived fairness, along with a positive past trajectory. It seems that employees are most willing to reciprocate to their organizations when things are currently quite fair AND if things have been getting progressively better over time.

I think this research will spur new studies that consider the dynamic nature of organizational phenomena, and the value in looking at variables’ change over time. I feel the methodology of change modeling has only recently caught up to the theory, and a lot of fascinating contributions can be made regarding how growth and decline in phenomena (thoughts, feelings, behaviors) affect individuals, teams, and organizations as a whole.

I think new scholars looking at organizational justice can continue to take a dynamic look at its change over time, both in the short and long term. My main advice would be to brush up on research methods, such as latent growth modeling and structural equation modeling. We all have lots of questions, and its is important that researchers be equipped with the methodological tools to test those questions.

I think the most influential piece of scholarship I have read recently was Alvesson, M., & Sandberg, J. 2011. Generating research questions through problematization. Academy of Management Review, 36: 247–271. An important part of framing your study is not just “gap-filling”, but demonstrating how your study solves a problem, and this paper does a good job of explaining how to do this.

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Scales photo attributed to Artsybee. (CC)


Holocaust Education and Its Effect on UNESCO Policy Guides

Holocaust education- working towards cultivating global citizenship, promoting human rights, and developing a culture of peace and prevention of genocide

cme1.pngThe Holocaust as a topic of study is present to varying degrees in a substantial number of countries, notably European, as well as countries where victims of the Holocaust have sought refuge and others not directly affected.  A recent study by UNESCO and the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research found that at least 65 countries specifically mention the genocide of Jews and other crimes perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, in their secondary schools’ social sciences and history curricula. An additional 46 countries provide context (the Second World War and National Socialism) in which the Holocaust can be taught. Teaching about the Holocaust is encouraged by the United Nations, which emphasizes its historical significance and the importance of teaching this event as a fundamental consideration pertaining to the prevention of genocide.

Inspired by the Conference for International Holocaust Education organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in collaboration with the UNESCO in Washington, D.C., a distinguished journal ‘Contemporary Review of the Middle East by SAGE Publications has come out with a special issue on Holocaust Education. The issue aims to strengthen the history of Holocaust and the genocide through pedagogical means. It has contributions from most of the attendees of this conference. With contributions from eclectic mix of scholars, the issue emphasizes on the fact that Holocaust is not an exclusive Jewish, European, or Christian tragedy but a human calamity. This universal message cannot be understood by ‘uniquefing’ the Holocaust. Despite its unparalleled character and magnitude, its understanding cannot be done in isolation.

Supporting the effort to inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust and to prevent future genocides, UNESCO has created an educational programme dedicated to the history of Holocaust. To support this effort, it has recently laid down a policy guide for policy-makers who seek to implement or substantiate the study of the Holocaust within their education systems and, more broadly, the study of genocide and mass atrocities. It describes how and why teaching and learning about the Holocaust can support global policy priorities through education, including cultivating global citizenship, promoting human rights, and developing a culture of peace and prevention of genocide. Articles from the issue on Holocaust education from the journal ‘Contemporary review of the Middle East’ have been taken as one of the references for drafting this document. The articles focus essentially on education about the Holocaust and the decades of research, resources and pedagogical practices demonstrating its effectiveness. Thorough guidance is provided for setting clear, realistic and context-specific learning objectives that promote quality education on the occurrences and history of Holocaust.

The special issue is currently free to read for a limited time.

About the Journal:

Contemporary Review of the Middle East, peer-reviewed flagship journal from the Middle East Institute, New Delhi seeks to publish original research articles that analyse contemporary Middle Eastern developments in the fields of security, politics, economy and culture. Though the Journal’s primary focus would be on contemporary developments, it would consider persuasive contributions on the region’s contemporary diplomatic and international histories that have evident bearings on the present.

Editorial Board     |     Submit an article


How Does a Management-to-Worker Wage Gap Impact Employee Performance?

The wage gap between the highest and lowest levels of an organization can serve as incentive for employees to work toward promotion, but does this motivation last in the long term? A new paper published in Journal of Managemententitled “Minding the Gap: Antecedents and Consequences of Top Management-to-Worker Pay Dispersion” from authors Brian L. Connelly, Katalin Takacs Haynes, Laszlo Tihanyi, Daniel L. Gamache, and Cynthia E. Devers delves into the performance implications of pay dispersion in an organization.

The abstract for the paper:

Management researchers have long been concerned with the antecedents and consequences of managerial compensation. More recently, scholarly and popular attention has turned to the gap in pay between workers at the highest and lowest levels of the organization, or “pay dispersion.” This study investigates the performance implications of pay dispersion on a longitudinal (10-year) sample of Current Issue Coverpublicly traded firms from multiple industries. We combine explanations based on tournament theory and equity theory to develop a model wherein pay dispersion has opposing effects on a firm’s short-term performance and their trend in performance over time. We also show that ownership is a key antecedent of pay dispersion. Specifically, transient institutional investors (who have short time horizons and equity stakes in a wide variety of firms) positively influence pay dispersion whereas dedicated institutional investors (who have longer investment time horizons and equity stakes in fewer firms) negatively influence pay dispersion. We discuss the wide-ranging implications of these findings for scholars, managers, and policy makers alike.

You can read “Minding the Gap: Antecedents and Consequences of Top Management-to-Worker Pay Dispersion” from Journal of Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to keep current on all of the latest research from Journal of ManagementClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

Fair Enough: How Managers Can Establish a Fair Identity

[2967379797_39f332f7ac_z (1)We’re pleased to welcome Terri Scandura of University of Miami, who co-authored an article in Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies entitled “Getting to ‘Fair’: Justice Interactions as Identity Negotiation” with Cecily Cooper of University of Miami.]

Fairness is a necessary condition for effective leadership (Scandura, 1999). But how does a manager negotiate a fair identity with followers and what do followers contribute to this identity?  How does this process unfold over time? How does having a fair identity benefit a manager? How does it lead to better relationship with followers? How do fair relationships benefit the organization?

We know that managers care about fairness and try to be fair (or at least appear fair) (Greenberg, 1988). Research on organizational justice has found that fairness issues are important to employees and link to performance withdrawal and counterproductive behavior (Conlon et al., 2005).  Given this importance, we were motivated to better understand the process of how managers come to be seen as “fair managers” by subordinates. We developed a model that considers both manager and subordinates as mutually influential on judgments of a manager’s fairness, rather than focusing solely on the subordinate’s perspective. Our model examines the emergence of a manager’s fair identity over time.

Our paper adopts a perspective from social psychology to better understand how JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointmanagers come to be viewed as fair called “identity negotiation” (Swann, 1987). This framework focuses on the interplay between self- and other-perceptions within leader-member relationships. This approach is particularly appropriate for informing justice research on the issue of justice perceptions of managers. People self-verify to increase their perception of predictability and control over their environment. Individuals desire to be seen “accurately” by others (i.e., they want others to see them as they see themselves). In the case of fairness, managers who care about being seen as fair by followers engage in a negotiation process with followers that results in a fair identity – “getting to fair,” just as negotiators engage in exchanges that result in “getting to yes.”

For managers, being seen as fair is central to building positive relationships with subordinates and achieving optimum functioning of the work unit. Our discussion, regarding how a general perception of fairness is formed, offers a number of key takeaways for attaining and maintaining a fair identity.

  1. By emphasizing the role of justice negotiation events, managers are more aware that subordinates may offer explicit feedback regarding fairness. Moreover, when explicit feedback is given, managers should be careful not to react defensively.
  2. Justice negotiation events should be seen as an opportunity to address fairness concerns and negotiate the preferred fairness identity. To capitalize on these discussions, managers would be wise to develop their conflict management skills.
  3. Managers should negotiate a positive fairness identity as early as possible in the relationship since entity perceptions will affect future events. Managers should also be cognizant of the fact that they are never completely “off the hook” when it comes to managing their fairness. Although perceptions can be formed early on, both parties continue to negotiate this fair identity throughout the entire working relationship. A pivotal justice negotiation event could impact perceptions of managerial fairness at any point in time.
  4. Organizations must be mindful that they often communicate the identities members are supposed to assume (Swann et al., 2009). Thus, if organizations emphasize certain attributes, which conflict or compete with the fairness identity (e.g., being efficient, powerful, or frugal), they may unwittingly undermine managerial efforts to establish fair identities.

In sum, a working understanding of how events develop into a reputation for being fair and how this must be managed over time is inherently useful and beneficial for managers and organizations. Our paper articulates the development of the fair identity, therefore making these implicit processes explicit so that managers can better understand how to optimize long-term manager-subordinate relationships.

Conlon, D., Meyer, C., & Nowakowski, J. (2005). How does organizational justice affect, performance, withdrawal, and counterproductive behavior? In J. Greenberg & J. Colquitt (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Justice (pp. 301-327). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Greenberg, J. (1988). Cultivating an image of justice: Looking fair on the job.  Academy of Management Executive, 2(2), 155-157.
Scandura, T. A.  (1999). Rethinking Leader-member exchange: An organizational justice perspective.  The Leadership Quarterly, 10, 25-40.
Swann, W. (1987). Identity negotiation: Where two roads meet.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(6), 1038-1051.

You can read “Getting to ‘Fair’: Justice Interactions as Identity Negotiation” from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Leadership and Organizational StudiesClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Discussion image credited to Mark Johnston (CC)

Are Authentic Leadership and Fairness Connected?

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpoint[We’re pleased to welcome Christa Kiersch of University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. Dr. Kiersch recently collaborated with Zinta S. Byrne of Colorado State University on their article from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies entitled “Is Being Authentic Being Fair? Multilevel Examination of Authentic Leadership, Justice, and Employee Outcomes.”]

Like many interested in leadership and organizational science, I often ask myself (and my perhaps less interested undergraduate students) what it means to be a great leader or to have great leadership. This seems to be a guiding question of much of the research in organizational leadership, and with good cause. If we can better understand what great leadership is, then we may be able to get more of it through improved selection assessments or training and development programs. To go one step further, if we can better understand why certain leadership skills or behaviors or other characteristics are effective, we can offer more precisely targeted recommendations for leaders hoping to make a positive impact (and be more specific regarding what the positive impact will be). This captures the underlying goal of this study, to inform actionable strategies for leaders to positively influence the people and goals of their organization or team.

In our research, we found that being an authentic leader (one based on honesty, self-awareness and transparency) often means being a fair leader, and that one way in which authentic leadership has a positive impact on team members and team outcomes is via perceptions of fair treatment among the team. While I had a hunch that this core relationship between authentic leadership and fairness would be supported in the study, I was intrigued by the complexities of our multi-level findings. I find it interesting that authentic leadership impacts individual perceptions and shared group perceptions (i.e., team climate) a bit differently, and that this impact also appears different depending on the outcome of interest (e.g., turnover intentions vs. employee well-being). I sincerely look forward to continued dialogue regarding these findings and more generally regarding the interesting ways in which leadership impacts (and is impacted by) individuals and groups.

You can read “Is Being Authentic Being Fair? Multilevel Examination of Authentic Leadership, Justice, and Employee Outcomes” from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

ChristaChrista E. Kiersch is an assistant professor of Management at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. Her research interests include leadership, organizational justice, and social responsibility in the workplace.

Zinta S. Byrne is a professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Colorado State University. Her current research interests focus on employee engagement, organizational justice, and computer-mediated exchanges.

Book Review: Steven Raphael: The New Scarlet Letter? Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record

TheNewScarletLetterThe New Scarlet Letter? Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record. By Steven Raphael. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute Press, 2014. 107 pp. ISBN 978-0-880994798, $14.99 (Paperback).

Shawn Bushway and Megan Denver of University at Albany, State University of New York recently reviewed the book by Steven Raphael in the August issue of ILR Review.

From the review:

Over the past 15 years, there has been growing awareness that a “lock them up” strategy to crime control ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointdoes not eliminate the problem of crime. The notion that “they all come back” has generated extensive conversations about the challenges returning prisoners encounter. (For example, see Joan Petersilia’s When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry, 2003, and Jeremy Travis’ But They All Come Back: Facing the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry, 2005.) Employment inevitably plays an important role in this discussion, given that employment is normatively how most pro-social adults spend their time and support themselves. Prior academic work (some of it by Steve Raphael and his colleagues) has outlined in detail the complicated relationship between incarceration and employment (e.g., Shawn Bushway et al.’s The Impact of Incarceration on Labor Market Outcomes, 2007). Steve Raphael’s book covers most of this same ground in a short, easy-to-read, and very accessible format that hits the important highlights. As such, it represents a valuable introduction to the issues of employment for individuals with records, particularly for students and interested non-academics who are relatively new to the topic.

You can read the review from ILR Review for free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research and reviews from ILR Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Can Undocumented Immigrants Be Protected From Wage Theft?

take-the-buck-2-1096838-mA study done by Pew Hispanic Center found that undocumented immigrants living in the United States earned a median household income of $36,000, $14,000 less than their legal and native-born counterparts, despite the fact that many households had more working members. These workers are also more susceptible to situations where employment laws aren’t followed, as the fear of retaliation keeps many from reporting misconduct committed by their employer. Wage stealing is one such infraction that has gained national attention in the last few years. Just why and how does this happen? How can it be stopped? Author Jed DeVaro discusses this in his article “Stealing Wages From Immigrants” from Compensation and Benefits Review.

The abstract:

In California, ongoing concerns about employers stealing wages from undocumented immigrant workers (who areCBR_42_1_72ppiRGB_powerpoint reluctant to report employer violations because they want to minimize contact with legal authorities) have led to two “antiretaliation” laws passed in 2013 (Assembly Bill 263 and Senate Bill 666) designed to protect workers. This article describes wage stealing (when, how, why and to whom it happens) and its consequences and evaluates various solutions to the problem, including the recent California legislation.

Click here to read “Stealing Wages From Immigrants” from Compensation and Benefits Review for free! Want the latest research like this sent directly to your inbox? Click here to sign up for e-alerts from Compensation and Benefits Review!