Justice theory of performance management system

By Abhinash & Indra Giri on December 26, 2016

In a highly competitive global business environment, managing human resources has become more challenging task than ever before. Most organizations face various key issues with respect to their workforce such as:

  • manpower planning,
  • recruitment,
  • performance management and
  • training & development.

There are various theories of performance management such as:

  • Goal Setting theory,
  • Expectancy theory,
  • Control theory and
  • Justice theory.

Other theories have been reviewed in our previous articles. In this article Justice theory will be discussed which is also a popular strategy of performance management in contemporary organizations.

Overview of justice theory

Justice theory, also known as organizational justice, refers to the extent in assessing the perceptions of the employees regarding organization’s performance management system. These performances can influence attitudes and behavior of the employees. These behaviors can have a negative or positive impact on employees’ performance and the organization’s success (Baldwin, n.d.). According to a study there is a positive correlation between organizational justice and job satisfaction. In other words better the employee perception of an organization, the higher the satisfaction level of that employee (Ali, 2010).

Organizational justice is also positively correlated to motivation, implying that where justice is observed, a general positive attitude emerges by itself (Çelik & Saritürk, 2012). Allameh & Rostami (2014) studied the relationship between organizational justice and Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB). In the study authors found strong relationship between the two. Similarly study by (Wan, 2016) shows that citizenship behavior are employee behaviors that go beyond the call of duty. Author concluded a positive association between organizational justice and citizenship behavior. Similarly authors also suggested that organizations need to ensure the practice of organizational justice so that it can create confidence and loyalty among the employees. This will influence employee’s organizational citizenship behavior.

Properties of justice theory

According to Baldwin (n.d.), there are four basic principles which can enhance employee’s perceptions of an organizational justice:

  • Voice gives the chance to be heard and gives the opportunity to present the information. This can enhance the feelings among the employees that they are being listened to. Other initiatives promoting voice might include suggestions schemes, empowerment programs and participative management.
  • Organisation should treat its employees with utmost dignity and respect.  Such culture can boost the morale and enhance their productivity level which ultimately translates into better and more efficient output.
  • Employees often seek some sort of interaction with their supervisors. It gives the opportunity so that employee can share the information appropriately. An explanation or apology can reduce or eliminate the sense of anger generated and avoids rude and cruel remarks.
  • Perceptions on a manager’s authority can affect organizational justice judgments. One should take decisions on the basis of facts and not on vested interests and personal feelings of the decision maker.
Improving performance management system using the justice theory
Properties of Justice Theory (Source: Baldwin n.d.)

Advantages of justice theory

On the basis of various studies it can be said that there should be a well defined system that promotes fair and equitable justice in an organization. This type of system is a key to improve the employee productivity and helps in realizing the goals of an organization. The advantages of just treatment by work organizations include:

  • Commitment helps in building the strong connection between the employees and the organization. Commitment and loyalty can be further enhanced if managers give response to their employees with appropriate explanations and feedback. With this managers can demonstrate that they value their own employees (Baldwin, n.d.).
  • Fostering job performance enhances the overall performance of the organization. Job performance refers to “formal job duties, assigned by organizational authorities and evaluated during performance appraisals” (Organ, 1988)Organizational justice indicates how effectively workers discharge their job duties thereby improving productivity.
  • Reduced absenteeism indicates that employees are being provided with adequate training and support which ensures that employers are dealing with their employees appropriately and professionally. This helps in  reducing the employee’s absenteeism and enhance the level of organizational justice (Baldwin, n.d.).
  • Improved health outcomes and well-being is an important focus of organizational psychology and management research. Both the factors will help in achieving organizational justice (Eib, n.d.). Positive organizational justice perceptions may trigger positive emotions and help the employee in fulfilling the need for a meaningful existence which may also affect individuals’ health and their well being positively (Cropanzano & Byrne, 2001).

Limitations of justice theory  

The theory of justice in performance management system perceived by employees has some limitations also. Justice theory sometimes viewed as time-consuming and controversial, especially when it comes to increment of pay structure of the employees which leads to dissatisfaction among them. This is because supervisors tend to become bias and pass their own judgments which can make the employers to deviate from their goal targets.

Employees may sometimes perceive that they are performing at an outstanding level while the supervisor sees such performance as average. So there is a chance that Justice Theory may involves emotions on the part of employers in assessing the performance level of employees (Gupta & Upadhyay, 2012). Employers may make errors in their judgment or permit biases during the process of evaluation. This might occur because they focus on the negative aspects and not balancing it with the positive aspects.  In some cases the employers do not have required information to evaluate their employees.

Application of justice theory

It can be concluded that justice theory being perceived by employees is an important parameter for an organizational effectiveness. This is because it individually affects its working employee who are responsible for carrying out different organizational tasks. It promotes better planning for the institution, which results in achieving the employee goals to organizational goals. In today’s competitive marketplace, it is important for employers to provide employees with organizational justice in order reap the positive outcomes of well performing employees. It promotes communication and participation to both parties resulting in increased trust.


  • Allameh, S. M., & Rostami, N. A. (2014). Survey Relationship between Organizational Justice and Organizational Citizenship Behavior. International Journal of Management Academy, 2(3), 1–8.
  • Baldwin, S. (n.d.). Organisational Justice The Institute for Employment Studies The IES HR Network Organisational Justice.
  • Cropanzano, R., & Byrne, Z. (2001). Moral Virtues, Fairness Heuristics, Social Entities, and Other Denizens of Organizational Justice. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 58, 164–209.
  • Eib, C. (n.d.). Processes of Organizational Justice Insights into the perception and enactment of justice.
  • Gupta, A., & Upadhyay, D. (2012). Impact of effectiveness of performance management system on employee satisfaction and commitment. IJMIE, 2(7).
  • Hasan Ali. (2010). No Title. A Study of Relationship between Organisational Justice and Job Satisfaction, 5(12).
  • Organ. (1988). No Title.
  • Wan, H. (2016). Organisational Justice and Citizenship Behaviour in Malaysia. Berlin: Springer. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.in/books?id=h1hECwAAQBAJ&pg=PA112&dq=Organisational+Citizenship+Behaviour&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiX4Kz-ucjQAhUMuI8KHSd6AOUQ6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q=Organisational Citizenship Behaviour&f=false.


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