Hypocrisies of Fairness: Towards a More Reflexive Ethical Base in Organizational Justice Research and Practice

Journal of Business Ethics 78 (3):415-433 (2008)
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Despite becoming one of the most active research areas in organizational behavior, the field of organizational justice has stayed at a safe distance from moral questions of values, as well as from critical questions regarding the implications of fairness considerations on the status quo of power relations in today’s organizations. We argue that both organizational justice research and the managerial practices it informs lack reflexivity. This manifests itself in two possible hypocrisies of fairness. Managers may apply organizational justice knowledge but fail to increase the actual levels of fairness in employment relations. Researchers, on the other hand, may claim to promote fairness through their work while actually providing managers with tools that enable or even encourage them to feed the hypocrisy of fairness identified above. As␣part of our argument, we identify three types of mechanisms managers may use to influence and manage the formation of fairness perceptions. We consider how the exercise of power is related to the potential application of organizational justice knowledge across individual, interpersonal and social levels. Our approach makes power dynamics and moral implications salient, and questions the purely subjectivist view of justice researchers that deliberately discards normative aspects. The questions opened up by considering alternative mechanisms for creating fairness perceptions have led us to formulate a research agenda for organizational justice research that takes multiple stakeholder interests, power dynamics and ethical implications into account. We believe that the fields of organizational justice and normative justice can benefit from combined research.



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Capitalism and Freedom.Milton Friedman - 1962 - Ethics 74 (1):70-72.

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