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The meaning and effects of organizational justice in a layoff situation: An indigenous Chinese investigation

Chun Guo, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Abstract

The past two decades have witnessed an increasingly popular research interest in applying established organizational justice concepts, theories, and models to non-Western cultures and societies. Prior research has shown that cultural values can create national variations in individuals' justice judgments and reactions. Although cross-cultural organizational justice studies have extended our understanding of the cultural influence on justice perceptions beyond a Western framework, these studies have made broad cross-cultural comparisons without examining whether justice perceptions in different cultures are comparable in the first place. A general concern for justice does not suggest that justice has the same meaning across human societies. Moreover, organizational justice is a social psychological concept and its meaning is largely determined by sociocultural norms. The failure to attain the emic knowledge of organizational justice in non-Western cultures, along with the assumption of the universality of the meaning of organizational justice concepts in all cultures, has jeopardized the validity of cross-cultural organizational justice studies. ^ Three overarching research questions prompt the current investigation. First, what is the context-specific meaning of organizational justice in a non-Western culture? Second, what is the dimensionality of the justice construct in a non-Western culture? Third, what is the relationship between organizational justice and other related theoretical constructs in a nomological network in a non-Western culture? In order to answer these questions, two studies, one qualitative and one quantitative, were conducted. First, I conducted an inductive, qualitative study to develop indigenous organizational justice measures based on qualitative data from in-depth personal interviews and open-ended surveys with survivors and laid-off employees from five organizations in China. In the second study, these indigenous measures were used to develop a survey and were validated using independent samples. After the validity was established, in study 2, I tested the effects of fairness perceptions on survivors' perceived employment relationships and their job performance as well as organizational citizenship behavior based on quantitative data from survey responses.^ In sum, results uncovered that in a Chinese context, organizational justice is an absolute term and refers to the legality and lawfulness of company rules and procedures; organizational fairness, is relative and refers to the fair treatment provided by the organization or its management. Hence, what has been labeled "organizational justice" is construed as "organizational fairness" in China. Further, while the etic dimensions of organizational fairness construct provide support that some aspects of fairness perceptions tend to be culturally invariant, the identification of emic dimensions challenges the previously assumed universality of the meaning of organizational justice. Finally, the present investigation revealed that the effects and importance of organizational fairness perceptions vary in a layoff situation. Not all fairness perceptions are equally important in influencing survivors' responses to layoffs. This exploratory investigation contributes to the building of global knowledge of organizational justice by advancing our understanding of what constitutes fair and just conducts in China, delineating differences and similarities between Chinese justice and fairness perceptions and those in the West, and explicating mechanisms underlying the effects of organizational fairness perceptions in a layoff situation.^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Management|Sociology, Organizational

Recommended Citation

Chun Guo, "The meaning and effects of organizational justice in a layoff situation: An indigenous Chinese investigation" (January 1, 2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. Paper AAI3379961.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI3379961

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