Distributive and procedural justice

Distributive justice in an organizational perspective is the perceived fairness of the distribution of a range of outcomes in the organization (Warner, Hegtvedt & Roman 2005). Distributive justice exists when the expected outcomes from a certain task or situation is the same as the resulting outcomes (Warner, Hegtvedt & Roman 2005). In contrast "procedural justice is the perceived fairness of process and procedures used to make allocation decisions" (Kreitner & kinicki 2010, pg 221).

From Adam's theory of equity it can be deduced that people crave for procedural or distributive justice in an organization because they are actually looking at increasing, leveling or decreasing their outcomes for a given input (Kreitner & Kinicki 2010, pg 221).

It can be fairly stated that among victims of any organizational activity, distributive justice was a strong predictor or perceived fairness of outcomes. Also, procedural justice was less significant and employees that were not directly affected by the organizational activity, procedural justice, was an important way in which they perceived the fairness of outcomes (Warner, Hegtvedt & Roman 2005, McFarlin & Sweeney 1992, Folger & Konovsky 1989). Accordingly, procedural justice held high significance in determining the role of organizational commitment (Warner, Hegtvedt & Roman 2005, McFarlin & Sweeney 1992, Folger & Konovsky 1989).

Looking at whether procedural and distributive justice act positively or negatively towards organizational commitment it can be seen that those who have been directly affected by a situation such as downsizing use distributive justice as the most important factor in determining fairness whereas those who have not been affected by downsizing would use procedural justice in determining fairness (Warner, Hegtvedt & Roman 2005). Those who viewed downsizing from a procedural perspective tended to show more organizational commitment making procedural justice better predictor of commitment to an organization (Warner, Hegtvedt & Roman 2005). However whether a positive attitude in the perceived fairness deduced from distributive justice actually increases organizational commitment is not know.

Organizational commitment and job satisfaction have shown correlations to organizational learning and work performance (Rose, Kumar & Pak 2009). Therefore managers should identify the factors that contribute to effectiveness of organizational learning, to enhance the work performance of the employees (Rose, Kumar & Pak 2009).

A low perceived fairness of distributive justice however leads to detrimental activities like revenge and retaliation (Vardi and Weitz 2004). "Individuals may apply revengeful acts while posing as victims and having no other ways available to restore injustice" (Vardi and Weitz 2004 page 65). An example of retaliation was when a technician shut down the oxygen supply in a municipal hospital because he perceived an unfair treatment from a supervisor (Vardi and Weitz 2004). This incident showcases that distributive justice in case of an unfair outcome is a destructive form for learning.


  • Rose,R.,Kumar,N.,&Pak,O..(2009). The Effect Of Organizational Learning On Organizational Commitment, Job Satisfaction And Work Performance.Journal of Applied Business Research,25(6),55-65.
  • Note : I haven't witten the textbook reference here

  • Clay-Warner, J., Hegtvedt, K., & Roman, P. (2005). Procedural Justice, Distributive Justice: How Experiences With Downsizing Condition Their Impact On Organizational Commitment. Social Psychology Quarterly, 68(1), 89-102.
  • Folger, R., & Konovsky, M. (1989). Effect of procedural and distributive justice on reactions to pay and raise decisions. Academy of Management Journal, 32(1), 115-130.
  • McFarlin, D., & Sweeney, P. (1992). Research note: Distributive and procedural justice as predictors of satisfaction with personal and organizational outcomes. Academy of Management Journal, 35(3), 626-637.
  • Yoav Vardi, Ely Weitz. (2004). Misbehavior in organizations: theory research and management. Pages 51-75. Lawrence Elbraum associates, publishers Mahwah, New Jersey.

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