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Cross-Cultural Organizational Justice: When Are Fairness Perceptions Universal or Culturally Dependent?

Organizational justice research over the last fifty years has provided an understanding of the antecedents and outcomes of fairness perceptions within organizational contexts. Justice perceptions have proven to be related to important outcomes such as job performance, organizational commitment, and withdrawal behaviors. Initial research seemed to indicate a certain universality of justice perceptions in that they had similar antecedents and consequences regardless of country or culture. However, a burgeoning cross-cultural justice literature now shows that some fairness perceptions may actually be culturally dependent. The question therefore remains as to when fairness perceptions are culturally variant or invariant. The current research investigates three overarching questions. First, are justice perceptions universal or are they affected by cultural values? Second, is there an interactive effect of cultural dimensions on justice perceptions? Third, what is the relationship between cross-cultural faculty governance differences and perceptions of fairness? Two studies were conducted to answer these research questions. One was qualitative and used semi-structured interviews of university faculty to provide an initial answer to both the first and third research questions. The other was quantitative and used survey responses collected from business school faculty to answer the second research question and provide a more complete answer to the other two questions. Results of the studies indicate that there is wide variation in faculty governance systems. However, the perceived fairness of those governance systems may be dependent on the aspect of the employment relationship being investigated. Evidence found here suggests there may be certain core values of a profession that when absent from the employment relationship are seen as unfair regardless of country. On the other hand, evidence also suggests that the perceived fairness of some aspects of the employment relationship may be culturally dependent. Additionally, evidence showed that the antecedent relationship between cultural dimensions and justice variables may be limited. This research not only furthers the theoretical understanding of the relationship between culture and justice but also cross-cultural fairness responses to varying human resource practices.
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