Interpersonal Communication Tactics and Procedural Justice for Uncertainty Management of Japanese Workers
Yamaguchi, Ikushi, The Journal of Business Communication
The objectives of the present study are (a) to explore the relationships among interpersonal communication tactics, perceived procedural justice, and the uncertainty of career stability of Japanese whitecollar workers; and (b) to reveal what kind of interpersonal communication tactics are effective for developing their perception of procedural justice and reducing their uncertainty of career stability. Three hundred and twenty-three Japanese white-collar workers participated in the research. The results of the data analysis with structural equation modeling (SEM) indicated that interpersonal communication tactics were not related directly to workers' uncertainty of their career stability but to perceived procedural justice, and perceived procedural justice influenced their uncertainty. Then, multiple regression analysis was conducted to find what kind of interpersonal communication tactics were related to uncertainty of career stability and effective for developing perceived procedural justice. Based on the results of the research, several academic and practical implications are presented.
Keywords: hard personal communication tactics; soft interpersonal communication tactics; rational interpersonal communication tactics; procedural justice; uncertainty of career stabilty; career stability
Since the early 1990s, after the economy's bubble burst in Japan, increasing numbers of Japanese companies have introduced performance-based personnel practices, recognizing the limitations of the traditional personnel system of Japanese companies such as a seniority system and a grade personnel system (1) (Kusuda, 2002). Many Japanese workers are not accustomed to the new personnel system that allows managers to differentiate outcomes (i.e., salary and promotion) among workers and cut workers' salary based on their performance. In addition, superiors are not accustomed to strict performance appraisal that was not required under the seniority system. According to the survey by the Institute of Labor Administration (2003), about 60% of 157 personnel managers of Japanese companies noted that employees have complaints about performance-based personnel practices because they cannot establish a performance-appraisal system about which employees can be satisfied. Group-oriented people like Japanese workers (Hofstede, 1980, 1991) tend to prefer an equal distribution of outcomes to an equity reward system (Chen, Meindl, & Hui, 1998; Kim, Park, & Suzuki, 1990; Leung & Iwawaki, 1988; Leung & Park, 1986). Therefore, under the new personnel system, Japanese workers are more likely than under the traditional personnel system to feel injustice. Indeed, according to a survey by the Japan Productivity Center for Socio-economic Development (2003), 53.5% of 106,408 Japanese workers did not think that a salary system under the performance-based personnel practices was rational, and 58.3% of them did not think that the distribution of jobs was fair.
Because under the performance-based personnel practices, performance appraisal is connected directly with salary and promotion, appraisal of performance as unsatisfactory can threaten career stability. In particular, because Japanese workers are strongly oriented to uncertainty avoidance (Hofstede, 1980, 1991), they feel uncertainty of their work life strongly under the new system. Takahashi (2004) contended that Japanese companies should practice a management system by which Japanese workers can devote themselves to their work without being threatened by uncertainty.
In a situation where Japanese white-collar workers feel injustice and uncertainty about their careers due to the introduction of performance-based personnel practices, it is worthwhile to explore how to mitigate their injustice feelings or promote their justice feelings and manage their uncertainty of career stability. For that purpose, the present study will elucidate the function that interpersonal communication plays in influencing workers' perception of justice and uncertainty management. In the following section, the relationship between interpersonal communication and procedural justice will be discussed first. Second, this study will consider if there are direct or indirect relationships among interpersonal communication, perceived justice, and the uncertainty of career stability. Third, three interpersonal communication tactics will be presented, and I will discuss how each of them is directly or indirectly associated with perceived justice and uncertainty.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Interpersonal Communication and Procedural Justice
Procedural justice theory (Leventhal, 1976, 1980; Thibaut & Walker, 1975) suggests that the perceived fairness of distributed outcomes should be determined by the procedures of distribution of outcomes to workers. Procedural justice scholars have emphasized the procedures of preventing workers from feeling resentful and dissatisfied. For example, Taylor, Tracy, Renard, Harrison, and Carroll (1995) reported that even though employees received lower evaluations, under a due process system that can provide system fairness and appraisal accuracy, workers displayed favorable reactions of positive attitudes toward the system, favorable evaluations of managers, and intention to remain with the organization.
However, the structural procedural justice theory has ignored the role of justification by decision makers (Bies, 1987b; Bies & Shapiro, 1988; Folger & Cropanzano, 1998; Folger & Konovsky, 1989), psychological aspects of procedural justice (Tyler, 1989), and the interpersonal communications between managers and employees (Bies & Tyler, 1993). Beugre (1998) also defined organizational justice as "the perceived fairness of the exchanges taking place in an organization, be they social or economic, and involving the individual in his or her relations with superiors, subordinates, peers, and the organization as a social system" (p. xiii). This definition suggests that organizational justice should be related to interpersonal communication. In particular, procedural justice theory that focuses on a social component of interpersonal interaction and communication is categorized as interactional justice theory (e.g., Bies, 1987a; Bies & Moag, 1986; Bies & Shapiro, 1988). Interactional justice refers to "aspects of interactions between outcome receivers and outcome givers" and "the procedures that do not involve formally imposed constraints on roles and behavior" (Folger & Cropanzano, 1998, p. 27). Interactive effectiveness of interactional justice has been found to alleviate feelings of injustice that have been caused by unfavorable experiences of workers who were laid off and workers' negative expectation of losing their jobs (Brockner & Greenberg, 1990; Brockner, Konovsky, Cooper-Schneider, Folger, Martin et al., 1994).
Furthermore, there are two different classes of justice in interactional justice (Greenberg, 1994): One is informational justice (i.e., communication such as justification and explanation), and the other is interpersonal justice (social sensitivity, or the exhibition of sincerity and respect). Informational justice is interpersonal communications such as justification and accounts (Bies, 1987a), adequate notice (Folger, Konovsky, & Cropanzano, 1992), and the importance of feedback (Folger & Bies, 1989; Greenberg & Wiethoff, 2001), which, independent of each other, are found to affect people's perception of procedural fairness (Bies, 1987b; Bies & Shapiro, 1988). Justification and accounts can be used as a reactive communication for altering attitudes toward perceived inequity situations after an unfair distribution of outcomes is determined, and they are effective for avoiding negative feelings and attitudes such as dissatisfaction and resentment. Adequate notice is not only the claim but also "the perceived adequacy of justification for a causal account claim," which "is more important than the claim itself in explaining people's reactions to unfavorable outcomes" (Bies & Shapiro, 1987, p. 216). Adequate notice is a process of performance appraisal by which managers provide employees with adequate explanations of not only what to do but also how and why. With adequate notice, "a degree of participation and two-way communication might be introduced into the process of PA [performance appraisal]" (Folger et al., 1992, p. 143). Shapiro and Kirkman (2001) also maintained that "the degree of information's clarity or objectivity may need to be especially high for people expecting to perceive injustice" (p. 166) and that "anticipated and perceived injustice is less likely to occur when there is unambiguous information to counter the injustice perception" (p. 168).
Interpersonal sensitivity (i.e., interpersonal justice) is also emphasized in interactional justice theory. Bies (1987a) maintained that interpersonal communication is one of the behaviors of decision makers that are associated with fair and unfair interpersonal treatment. Attitudes of treating people with dignity, respect, and sincerity are effective communication for alleviating people's feelings of perceived injustice (Bies & Moag, 1986; Bies, Shapiro, & Cummings, 1988; Folger & Bies, 1989; Shapiro, Sheppard, & Cheraskin, 1992; Tyler & Bies, 1990). Shapiro et al. (1992) showed that regular communication and courtship could contribute to understanding and predictability in knowledge-based trust. Lind (2001) noted that "people use overall impressions of fair treatment as a surrogate for interpersonal trust" (p. 65), and interpersonal communications that express social sensitivity can generate trust relationships among them. These findings suggest that interpersonal communication can function as the procedural effect for forming fairness judgments by communicating social sensitivity. Thus, when people try to form fairness judgments about a decision, they will consciously and unconsciously seek communication that provides social sensitivity. Thus, according to the extent literature on organizational justice studies, effective interpersonal communication is assumed to influence people's perception of procedural justice.
Recent studies on organizational justice (Van den Bos & Lind, 2002; Van den Bos, Lind, Vermunt, & Wilke, 1997; Van den Bos, Wilke, & Lind, 1998) have revealed that procedural justice and workers' fairness judgment are related to managing worker uncertainties. Specifically, fairness heuristic theory (Lind, 2001) suggests that uncertainty in organizations can be alleviated by forming perceptions of procedural justice. Van den Bos and Lind (2002) observed, "Solid, firmly constructed fairness judgments either remove uncertainty or alleviate much of the discomfort that uncertainty would otherwise generate" (p. 3). The authors also noted that "fairness is important for people because they use fairness judgments in processes of uncertainty management" (p. 49). Accordingly, perceived procedural justice is assumed to alleviate workers' uncertainty of career stability.
On the other hand, communication scholars (e.g., Heath & Bryant, 2000) have found direct relationships between interpersonal communication and the reduction of uncertainty. According to Berger and Calabrese (1975), "High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information seeking behavior. As uncertainty levels decline, information seeking behavior decreases" (p. 103). Because uncertainty is uncomfortable, people communicate to obtain and interpret information as a means for reducing uncertainty (Heath & Bryant, 2000). "In organizations, the higher the level of predictability between colleagues, the greater sense of comfort everyone is likely to feel about working together" (Harris, 2002, p. 305). Moreover, according to anxiety/uncertainty management theory (Gudykunst 1988, 1993), to reduce the uncertainty in interpersonal communication in intercultural settings, people observe a person's behavior, try to collect information on that person from others, and engage in communicating with him or her in person. The research suggests that people are motivated to communicate with information senders and seek information by perceived uncertainty (Berger & Calabrese, 1975; Heath & Bryant, 2000; Knobloch & Solomon, 2002), and hence they seek information actively in order to alleviate uncertainty. In other words, an information sender will be able to reduce the uncertainty of information seekers if he or she succeeds in providing them with proper information with proper communication styles.
Fairness heuristic theory and uncertainty reduction and anxiety/uncertainty reduction theory suggest direct relationships both between procedural justice and perceived uncertainty and between interpersonal communication and perceived uncertainty. The discussion here and in the previous section regarding the relationship between interpersonal communication and procedural justice also suggests a moderating effect of procedural justice on the relationships between interpersonal communication and workers' uncertainty of career stability. This means that workers' uncertainty of career stability will be reduced to a greater degree when their perception of procedural justice is formed by effective interpersonal communication than when it is not. These relationships have not been explored by either interactional justice or communication studies. Therefore, it would be useful to elucidate what kind of interpersonal communication is effective for developing workers' perception of procedural justice or mitigating that of procedural injustice and alleviating their uncertainty of career stability.
Three Interpersonal Communication Tactics
Interactional justice scholars have not focused on concrete manners in which information and social sensitivity are expressed to influence the feelings and attitudes of information recipients. Baron (1993) observed, "Where negative feedback is concerned, it is not simply the information that one has performed poorly that matters; the style in which this information is conveyed is important too" (p. 159). The manner in which information and social sensitivity are communicated should be considered.
Ambrose and Harland (1995) suggested a relationship between procedural justice and influence tactics. Influence tactics are strategic manners of persuasion through verbal interaction with which people (e.g., decision makers) can influence and alter other people's (e.g., information receivers) attitudes and behavior. Thus, influence tactics are closely related to persuasive communication and can be applied to interpersonal communication tactics. Influence tactics scholars (e.g., Ambrose & Harland, 1995; Yukl, 2000; Yukl & Falbe, 1990; Yukl, Falbe, & Youn, 1993; Yukl, Kim, & Falbe, 1996; Yukl & Tracey, 1992) have studied the effectiveness of the following influence tactics: legitimating tactics, rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, consultation, exchange tactics, personal appeals, ingratiation/ friendliness tactics, pressure tactics, coalition tactics and upward appeals, threats/ sanction/blocking, and deceit. In the present study, these influence tactics are adapted to present the following 14 interpersonal communication tactics: a highhanded manner, demand/order, warning, threat, a friendly manner, praise, flattery, sympathy, reasoning, conditional promise, unconditional promise, normative appeal, question, and self-disclosure.
Although interpersonal communication tactics are adapted from influence tactics, the former focus more on verbal communication styles. Falbe and Yukl (1992) grouped influence tactics into the following three categories according to different influences on people's attitudes and behavior: hard tactics, rational tactics, and soft tactics. Hard tactics include legitimating, coalition, and pressure; rational tactics involve rational persuasion and exchange; and soft tactics include inspirational appeals, consultation, personal appeals, and ingratiation. Interpersonal communication tactics can also be separated into the following three groups: hard, rational, and soft interpersonal communication tactics.
Hard interpersonal communication tactics. Out of the hard influence tactics Falbe and Yukl (1992) presented, "coalition" is not considered for presenting interpersonal communication tactics in the present study because the tactic is to take advantage of networks in organizations rather than to use verbal communication. In the present study, hard interpersonal communication tactics are verbal communication styles that emphasize legitimacy and put pressure on others, including a high-handed manner, demand/order, warning, and threat. Those tactics reflect superiors' attitudes toward their subordinates based on positional power. A high-handed manner is an interpersonal communication tactic whereby superiors use their authority as a legitimate claim, taking advantage of their higher positions to force their subordinates to follow them. Demand and/or order, threat, and warning correspond to a "pressure" influence tactic. Demands and/or orders are direct verbal messages used by a superior to demand or order subordinates to do what they are commanded to do. Threat is an interpersonal communication tactic that a persuader will do something unpleasant if a persuadee does not do what the former wants. Warning is an interpersonal communication tactic with which a persuader gives a persuadee an advance notice of something unpleasant or dangerous that will happen.
Soft interpersonal communication tactics. Out of soft influence tactics, "consultation" is not included as interpersonal communication tactics in the present study because the tactic is in many cases communication from subordinates to superiors. In the present study, only downward communication is considered. Therefore, soft interpersonal communication tactics correspond to Yukl and Tracey's (1992) ingratiation, personal appeal, and inspirational appeal. The authors defined ingratiation, personal appeal, and inspirational appeal as influence tactics "to get you in a good mood or to think favorably of him or her before asking you to do something;" "to appeal to your feelings of loyalty and friendship toward him or her before asking you to do something;" and "to arouse enthusiasm by appealing to your values, ideals, and aspirations or by increasing your confidence that you can do it" (p. 526), respectively. In the present study, verbal communication styles that reflect those three concepts are presented as a friendly manner, praise, flattery, and sympathy interpersonal communication tactics. A friendly manner is an interpersonal communication tactic with which decision makers (persuaders) show friendly, warm, and comforting attitudes in order to have a subordinate (persuadee) accept them. This is equivalent to ingratiation and personal appeal. Praise is an interpersonal communication tactic that a persuader uses to call attention to a good point of a persuadee, which will raise the persuadee's self-esteem high enough to make him or her flexible and to foster trust and confidence in his or her persuader. Flattery will make persuadees happy enough that they will be motivated into doing what a persuader wants them to do. Thus, both praise and flattery are closely related to ingratiation. In this respect, flattery also contains the concept of inspirational appeal. Sympathy, which is similar to "personal appeal," is an interpersonal communication tactic with which a persuader shows an attitude of compassion and willingness to help a persuadee, which will incline the persuadee to abide by the persuader's wishes.
Rational interpersonal communication tactics. Yukl and Tracy (1992) defined rational persuasion and exchange as influence tactics "to persuade you that a proposal of request is viable and likely to result in the attainment of task objectives" and to offer an exchange of favors, indicates "willingness to reciprocate at a later time, or promises you a share of the benefits if you help accomplish a task" (p. 527) respectively. There are six rational interpersonal communication tactics: reasoning, conditional and unconditional promise, normative appeal, question, and self-disclosure. Reasoning is equivalent to rational persuasion. This is an interpersonal communication tactic with which a persuader offers a persuadee a logical explanation, and then the persuadee cannot help but follow the persuader's instructions. Promise corresponds to exchange, and there are two different kinds of promise. Conditional promise is an interpersonal communication tactic that corresponds to Yukl and Tracey's exchange, which is defined as follows: "The person offers an exchange of favors, indicates willingness to reciprocate at a later time, or promises you a share of the benefits if you help accomplish a task" (p. 526). An unconditional promise is one that a person offers to another without expecting reciprocation. Normative appeal is an interpersonal communication tactic that emphasizes a societal norm, saying that everyone should do that, everyone agrees with this, and so on. Normative appeal can have strong rationality specifically in a group-oriented society such as Japan, because the value of keeping harmonious relationships provides a good reason for people to follow a social norm. Questions can show persuadees that a persuader is making efforts to communicate and understand them. Self-disclosure can communicate the intention of decision makers to open their minds to outcome receivers and reveal something about themselves. Therefore, question and self-disclosure are assumed to be a means of removing irrationality and strengthening rationality.
Interpersonal communication tactics do not always work to change people's attitudes, forming fairness judgment, and reducing uncertainty. Some tactics are effective, whereas others deteriorate and develop feelings of injustice and uncertainty. Moreover, in seeking information, if people are communicated to in ineffective manners, their motivation to process information will be hampered. As a result, their uncertainty will not be eliminated. According to the cognitive model of persuasion (Albarracin, 2002; Petty & Cacioppo, 1986), the motivation and ability to process information are prerequisites for people's acceptance of persuasive communication to change their attitudes. Without the motivation and the ability, people do not engage in cognitive processing of the relevant information. This process was modeled by Petty, Kasmer, Haugtvedt, and Cacioppo (1987) as cognitive-involvement theory. For example, when a superior tries to persuade the subordinate to accept a decision that a subordinate perceives as unjust, the superior first has to motivate the subordinate to process information and messages with the appropriate interpersonal communication tactic. The superior must be able to manipulate verbal communication techniques and use proper interpersonal communication to achieve success. Through proper interpersonal communication tactics, the worker can form favorable beliefs, change a cognitive structure, and hence develop positive attitudes. As a result, workers' attitudes about perceived unexpected outcomes and procedures of reaching a decision as being fair will be favorably influenced.
Ambrose and Harland (1995) mentioned,
The use of persistence, assertiveness, or pressure may elicit the perception on the part of the target that he or she is being manipulated or coerced to comply with the wishes of the agent. Such tactics show a lack of respect for the feelings of the target and thus, would be low on interactional fairness. Use of this tactic provides little information about or rationale for the agent's request. This lack of information may increase the likelihood that the target questions the agent's motives for the request. Finally, this tactic is likely to call into question the ethicality of the agent's behavior. (pp. 114-115)
Thus, out of the 14 interpersonal communication tactics presented thus far, hard interpersonal communication tactics of a high-handed manner, demand/order, warning, and threat are assumed to impede the expression of empathy and the construction of trust relationships among people. These interpersonal communication tactics will also lower the receivers' motivation to process information they receive, and their attitudes will not be altered.
Ambrose and Harland (1995) suggested that the presentation of rationality is important to perceptions of procedural justice. The authors also suggested that interpersonal treatment (i.e., social aspects of interactional justice theory) can be "the primary fairness criterion" that "is likely to be affected by the use of ingratiation/ friendliness" (p. 113). Heuter, Blumenthal, Douglas, and Weinblatt (1999) also found that deservedness and self-esteem influenced the relationship between respectful treatment and procedural justice. Out of the 14 interpersonal communication tactics discussed, both soft and rational interpersonal communication tactics of a friendly manner, praise, flattery, sympathy, reasoning, conditional promise, unconditional promise, normative appeal, question, and self-disclosure will promote self-deservedness and self-esteem and express the attitudes that the information senders will not neglect or ignore the opinions of information recipients. Therefore, both soft and rational interpersonal communication tactics will motivate people to process the information from decision makers. These tactics can also generate justice feelings because they promote open-minded methods of communication, which develop social sensitivity and emphasize rules and norms in interpersonal communication.
It is also necessary to consider the effects of the three interpersonal communication tactics on workers' uncertainty of career stability. As already mentioned, in using hard interpersonal communication tactics, superiors (i.e., information senders and decision makers) will try to persuade and motivate a subordinate (i.e., information and outcome recipients) to do something by raising his or her uncertainty that he or she would receive unpleasant and negative outcomes without doing it. Moreover, hard interpersonal communication tactics do not provide information on why and how a decision was made. Without such information, recipients will feel uncertainty. Soft interpersonal communication tactics, such as flattery and praise, show that superiors try to find and emphasize anything good about subordinates, which can promote positive feelings. Sympathy and friendly-manner communication by superiors provide a kind of information that subordinates value. Such information will reduce uncertainty. Therefore, soft interpersonal communication tactics will decrease outcome recipients' uncertainty. Rational interpersonal communication tactics will convey information on why and how a decision was made through the provision of reasoning and the disclosure of information. Once outcome recipients understand why and how a decision was made, they will know what to do for improving the present situation and getting more in the future, which will reduce their uncertainty.
The foregoing review of research literature on interactional justice suggests that perceived procedural justice is influenced by interpersonal communication. In addition, research on uncertainty management suggests direct relationships both between perceived procedural justice and perceived uncertainty management and between interpersonal communication and perceived uncertainty. The research literature suggests that interpersonal communication is assumed to have both direct relationships with perceived uncertainty and indirect influences on it through perceived procedural justice. Therefore, the direct effect of interpersonal communication on uncertainty management is also assumed to be influenced by perceived procedural justice. The following research hypothesis is tested for further study:
Hypothesis 1: Perceived procedural justice will moderate the effect of interpersonal communication on perceived uncertainty.
The research literature about what kind of interpersonal communication is effective for developing workers' perception of procedural justice or mitigating that of procedural injustice was presented. What kind of interpersonal communication can increase or reduce outcome recipients' uncertainty was also discussed. The discussion on research literature about the influences of three interpersonal communication tactics on procedural justice and uncertainty suggests the following: Hard interpersonal communication tactics will be negatively related to people's perception of procedural justice and also will increase their uncertainty, soft interpersonal communication tactics will be positively related to people's perception of procedural justice and reduce their uncertainty, and rational interpersonal communication tactics will be positively related to people's perception of procedural justice and reduce their uncertainty. Moreover, perceived procedural justice can reduce perceived uncertainty according to fairness heuristic theory (e.g., Van den Bos & Lind, 2002; Van den Bos et al., 1997, 1998). Therefore, the influences of procedural justice on the relationship between three interpersonal communication tactics and the uncertainty of career stability can be postulated. The following research hypotheses are tested for further study:
Hypothesis 2a: Hard interpersonal communication tactics will decrease perceived procedural justice.
Hypothesis 2b: Hard interpersonal communication tactics will increase the uncertainty of career stability.
Hypothesis 2c: Perceived procedural justice will moderate the effect of hard interpersonal communication tactics on the uncertainty of career stability.
Hypothesis 3a: Soft interpersonal communication tactics will increase perceived procedural justice.
Hypothesis 3b: Soft interpersonal communication tactics will decrease the uncertainty of career stability.
Hypothesis 3c: Perceived procedural justice will moderate the effect of soft interpersonal communication tactics on the uncertainty of career stability.
Hypothesis 4a: Rational interpersonal communication tactics will increase perceived procedural justice.
Hypothesis 4b: Rational interpersonal communication tactics will decrease the uncertainty of career stability.
Hypothesis 4c: Perceived procedural justice will moderate the effect of rational interpersonal communication tactics on the uncertainty of career stability.
Procedures and Participants
Questionnaires were distributed to 1,100 Japanese white-collar workers from October 2002 to January 2003. The researcher did not distribute the questionnaires to employees in a specific organization but to about 200 full-time white-collar workers from different companies who were assigned to attend institutes that offer a program of human resource management. The rest of the questionnaires were sent to the graduates of the program by mail. One institute is located in Tokyo and the other in Osaka. Participants were given three to five additional questionnaires and asked to distribute them to their colleagues at their workplace. The two groups of participants (i.e., workers who attended the institutes and received the questionnaires directly from the researcher and those who received them from their colleagues) were not different for the following reasons: (a) The workers who attended the institutes were all on the main career track and had worked at their companies for several years, and workers who are on the clerical track were not included; and (b) they were told to distribute the questionnaire to only full-time colleagues who were on the main career track and had worked for more than 2 years, because some companies apply performance-based personnel practices only to such workers, and the participants should experience the events that cause the sense of injustice, as explained in the following section.
All participants were given envelopes and stamps so they could return the questionnaires directly to the researcher. The address put on the envelopes was the office of the institute in Tokyo. Three hundred twenty-three completed questionnaires were returned to the office by mail (for a collection rate of 29.4%) until early January 2003. Because 28 of those participants did not fully complete the questionnaire, the responses of those participants were deleted from all further analyses, leaving a usable sample of 295. The average age of the sample was 35.8, with a standard deviation of 6.84, and ages of the participants ranged from 23 to 57. The sample was 86.4% male (n = 255), 10.8% female (n = 32), and 2.7% not available (n = 8). The participants of the present study are highly educated: 73.9% graduated from university, and 14.6% graduated from graduate school.
Bies and Tripp (2002) suggested that researchers should understand the events that cause the sense of injustice in studying justice in organizations (also see Bies, 1987a, 2001). Therefore, the participants were asked to recall a situation where they experienced the rejection of their requests and proposals from their superiors and companies or they received much lower outcomes than they expected, when answering the questions on interpersonal communication tactics and perceived procedural justice. The questions were based on the participants' retrospection of experiences of perceived injustice of outcome distribution. The participants were asked how their superiors communicated with them (i.e., interpersonal communication tactics) and to what degree they felt the procedures of decision making were fair or just. The questions relating to the uncertainty of career stability and interpersonal communication tactics were developed for the present study.
Perceived procedural justice. The two question items of perceived procedural justice that were developed by Bies et al. (1988) were used. They presented only two questions. Although I did not follow a typical back-translation procedure in translating the two questions originally written in English into Japanese, I asked several workers who attended a business school and studied to read the translation of the question items. The translated questions that were not readable, understandable, or clear were corrected through the discussion. On a scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much), the participants were asked the following two questions: In recalling an injustice situation, (a) to what degree the participants felt the decision-making process was fair or unfair and (b) to what degree the participants felt the decision was made in a way that was fair or unfair. Cronbach's alpha of the two-item scale was .91.
Perceived uncertainty of career stability. Perceived uncertainty of career stability was measured with the following three questions on a scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much): (a) to what degree the participants feel uneasy about personnel treatment such as salary, (b) to what degree the participants feel uneasy about stability of employment, and (c) to what degree the participants feel uncertain about their future career in their companies. Cronbach's alpha of the three-item scale was .79.
Interpersonal communication tactics. The following 14 interpersonal communication tactics were presented in the questionnaire: a friendly manner, praise, flattery, sympathy, reasoning, conditional promise, unconditional promise, normative appeal, question, self-disclosure, a high-handed manner, demand/order, warning, and threat. On a scale ranging from 1 (not strongly at all) to 7 (very strongly), the participants were asked how strongly they felt the decision maker or superior used those interpersonal communication tactics in order to persuade them to accept the decisions. Exploratory factor analysis with varimax rotation was performed (Table 1). The items whose factor loadings were higher than .50 only remained, and four dimensions were produced. Because the fourth dimension was composed of only one factor of a "normative appeal" interpersonal communication tactic, the reliability score could not be calculated. This factor also explained only 8.33% of the variance, and the engenvalue was low, as shown in Table 1. This means that the fourth dimension was unreliable. Therefore, this variable was eliminated. Thus, only normative appeals did not fall into any of the three categories, although the tactic was assumed to be included in rational interpersonal communication tactics. The results suggest that it is not a rational matter for people to do what is natural and expected in a society (i.e., a social norm) and follow others in order to maintain harmonious relationships with others in a group-oriented society such as Japan.
As a result, three dimensions remained with 13 interpersonal communication tactics. The first dimension consists of four variables: a high-handed manner, demand/order, warning, and threat interpersonal communication tactics, which are termed hard interpersonal communication tactics. The second dimension is composed of five variables: reasoning, conditional promise, unconditional promise, question, and self-disclosure interpersonal communication tactics, which are named rational interpersonal communication tactics. The third dimension is composed of four variables: a friendly manner, praise, flattery, and sympathy interpersonal communication tactics, which are called soft interpersonal communication tactics. Cronbach's alphas of the three dimensions are .91, 76, and .82, respectively.
With AMOS 4.0 (Arbuckle & Wothke, 1995), structural equation modeling was used for testing Hypothesis 1. In structural equation modeling, an exogenous variable of interpersonal communication tactics and an endogenous variable of the uncertainty of career stability were put as latent variables, whereas a variable of procedural justice was put as an observed variable. Because there were only two question items of procedural justice and they were very similar, they were integrated into one variable as an observed variable. The 13 variables of interpersonal communication tactics that were put into the questionnaire were so different so as to be categorized into three dimensions of communication tactics according to the results of exploratory factor analysis. Therefore, a variable of interpersonal communication tactics should be a latent variable that consists of the three different observed variables. Furthermore, three question items of the uncertainty of career stability were not similar and hence were put in the model independently of each other as the observed variables that compose a latent variable of the uncertainty of career stability.
For testing Hypotheses 2a to 4c, multiple regression analysis was conducted with SPSS 12.0. In performing the multiple regression analysis, age, sex, and education were put into the equation as control variables. As features of Japanese interpersonal communication tactics, specifically age and gender can influence their interpersonal communication tactics. Gender is a dummy variable, 0 standing for male and 1 for female. Education is an ordinal scale, 1 standing for elementary and junior high school graduates, 2 for high school, 3 for junior college, 4 for college and university, and 5 for graduate school.
Means, standard deviations, correlations, and reliabilities of variables are shown in Table 2. As for interrelation among independent variables, the correlations between hard and soft and between rational and soft interpersonal communication tactics were significant. However, according to collinearity statistics, the tolerance for all variables was larger than .73, and the variance inflation factor (VIF) for all variables was lower than 1.4. Therefore, there are no multicollinearity problems in the data set of this research.
Structural equation modeling was used for estimating direct and indirect effects with AMOS 4.0 (N = 295, given "linear interpolation" deletion of missing values). In Figures 1 and 2, the ovals stand for latent variables, whereas the boxes represent observed variables that consist of the question items. The sole arrows to the boxes stand for error, which represents a composite of any variable "on which performance may depend, but which was not measured in this study" and "much more than random fluctuations in performance scores due to measurement error" (Arbuckle & Wothke, 1995, p. 109). The sole arrows to the ovals also stand for measurement error for latent variables, called disturbance. Relationships among the exogenous and endogenous variables are presented. Several observed variables assess each of the latent variables. Standardized regression coefficients are presented, and the dotted line indicates no significant effect of the exogenous variables on the endogenous variables. The relative importance of the variables is reflected by the magnitude of the coefficients.
[FIGURES 1-2 OMITTED]
First, the direct relationship between interpersonal communication and the uncertainty of career stability was analyzed. As shown in Figure 1, the overall fit of the model of procedural justice is good in that the chi-square was not significant, both the Goodness-of-Fit Index (GFI) and the Adjusted Goodness-of-Fit Index (AGFI) were higher than .90, the Comparative Fit Index (CFI) was close to 1, and the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) was lower than .08 ([chi square] = 10.14, p > .05, df= 6, GFI = .99, AGFI = .96, CFI = .99, RMSEA = .05). However, there was no direct relationship between interpersonal communication and the uncertainty of career stability. Moreover, after entering procedural justice into the model (Figure 2), the relationship between them remained insignificant. Thus, Hypothesis 1 was not supported.
The relationships between interpersonal communication tactics and procedural justice and between procedural justice and the uncertainty of career stability were also analyzed. The overall fit of the model of procedural justice (Figure 2) is good in that the chi-square was not significant, both the GFI and the AGFI were higher than .90, the CFI was close to 1, and the RMSEA was lower than .08 ([chi square] = 16.94, p > .05, df= 10, GFI = .98, AGFI = .96, CFI = .98, RMSEA = .05). The overall fit measures and significance of the path coefficients indicate that the model fits the data well. There was a positive and significant relationship between interpersonal communication tactics and procedural justice ([beta] = .52, p <. 001, [R.sup.2] = .27) and a negative and significant relationship between procedural justice and the uncertainty of career stability ([beta] = -.38, p <. 001, [R.sup.2] = . 11). The results were as predicted.
To find the influences of each of three interpersonal communication tactics on perceived procedural justice and the uncertainty of career stability (Hypotheses 2a-4c), multiple regression analysis was perfomed (Table 3). First, the relationship between interpersonal communication tactics and perceived procedural justice was analyzed. Age, gender, and education were put into the equation as control variables. All control variables were not significantly related to perceived procedural justice. On the other hand, after controlling for those control variables, all of the three interpersonal communication tactics were significantly related to perceived procedural justice. The beta coefficient of hard interpersonal communication tactics was negatively significant ([beta] = -.22, p < .001), that of soft interpersonal communication tactics was positively significant ([beta] = .15, p < .05), and that of rational interpersonal communication tactics was positively significant ([beta] = .26, p < .001). Those variables explained 18% of the variance of perceived procedural justice (adjusted [R.sup.2] = .18, F[6,275] = 11.53, p < .001). The incremental [R.sup.2] from Model 1 to Model 2 was also significant. Therefore, Hypotheses 2a, 3a, and 4a were supported.
Second, the direct relationship between perceived procedural justice and the uncertainty of career stability and the effect of perceived procedural justice on the relationship between each of the interpersonal communication tactics and uncertainty management were analyzed. In Model 2, after controlling for the control variables, only hard interpersonal communication tactics were significantly and positively related to perceived uncertainty ([beta] = .18, p < .01 ). Neither soft nor rational interpersonal communication tactics indicated any relationships to perceived uncertainty. Therefore, Hypothesis 2b was supported, whereas Hypotheses 3b and 4b were not supported. Then, perceived procedural justice was entered in the equation (Model 3). Perceived procedural justice was significantly and negatively related to perceived uncertainty ([beta] = -.31, p < .001). However, the relationship between hard interpersonal communication tactics and perceived uncertainty disappeared, after controlling for perceived procedural justice. This means that perceived procedural justice did not moderate but mediated the relationship between hard interpersonal communication tactics and perceived uncertainty. Therefore, Hypothesis 2C was not supported. No relationships remained between other inter personal communication tactics and perceived uncertainty in Model 3. Moreover, in Model 2, the adjusted [R.sup.2] was not significant (adjusted [R.sup.2] = .01, F[6, 275] = 1.48, p >. 10), but in Model 3, it became significant (adjusted [R.sup.2] = .09, F[7,274] = 4.68, p < .001). Thus, because there was no direct relationship between soft and rational the interpersonal communication tactics and perceived uncertainty both before and after controlling for perceived procedural justice, Hypotheses 3c, and 4c were not supported.
Substantive Findings and Implications
The results of the present study revealed that interpersonal communication tactics were not directly related to perceived uncertainty. This result was not consistent with uncertainty reduction theory (Berger & Calabrese, 1975) or anxiety/uncertainty management theory (Gudykunst, 1988, 1993). Both uncertainty reduction theory and anxiety/uncertainty management theory explain the uncertainty people feel in communicating with others whom they do not know well. Therefore, it could not be simply applied to work-related uncertainty workers experience in organizations. It is also impossible for decision makers (i.e., information senders) to provide Japanese workers with information that guarantees their job stability and security under the new personnel system. On the other hand, perceived procedural justice lowered perceived uncertainty of career stability. Thus, once Japanese white-collar workers perceive procedures of decision making as fair (i.e., perceived procedural justice), which can mitigate perceived injustice of distributed outcomes (Bies, 1987a; Bies & Moag, 1986), the uncertainty of career stability will be reduced to a great degree. This confirmed fairness heuristic theory.
In structural equation modeling, although interpersonal communication tactics influenced the uncertainty of career stability indirectly through procedural justice, procedural justice did not affect the relationship between interpersonal communication tactics and the uncertainty of career stability. However, interpersonal communication tactics were treated as a latent variable, which was composed of observed variables of three interpersonal communication tactics. Therefore, relationships among each of the three interpersonal communication tactics, procedural justice, and the uncertainty of career stability needed to be considered. The data showed that procedural justice mediated the effects of hard interpersonal communication tactics on the perceived uncertainty of career stability. Hard interpersonal communication tactics reduced perceived procedural justice of outcome recipients. However, as long as workers still feel procedural justice to some degree even after the reduction of their perception of justice by hard interpersonal communication tactics, worker uncertainty of career stability will be mitigated. Neither soft nor rational communication tactics indicated any significant relationships directly with the uncertainty of career stability. However, they promoted perceived procedural justice, which then mitigated perceived uncertainty. Therefore, perceived procedural justice did not influence the relationship between interpersonal communication and the uncertainty of career stability, but these two interpersonal communication tactics can influence perceived uncertainty management indirectly through perceived procedural justice.
The findings of the indirect influence of interpersonal communication on perceived uncertainty through perceived procedural justice contributes to the development of fairness heuristic theory. Research suggests that "information about procedures is usually available early and outcome information is often not available until later, people usually form their first fairness judgments largely on the basis of the procedural information" (Van den Bos, Lind, & Wilke, 2001, p. 60). Thus, fairness heuristic theorists suggest that workers' perception of procedural justice in an organization can be used as a heuristic substitute for outcome information to mitigate their uncertainty of career stability. The findings of the present study did not only confirm the findings of fairness heuristic theory but also revealed what the theory has not found. The theory has not explored what can form people's perception of procedural justice. The findings of the present study showed concrete interpersonal communications that can form and develop procedural justice.
Moreover, although the concept of interpersonal communication or interpersonal treatment has been presented and referred to in interactional justice theory (e.g., Bies, 1987a; Bies & Moag, 1986; Bies & Shapiro, 1988; Bies et al., 1988; Shapiro, 1993; Shapiro et al., 1992; Shapiro & Kirkman, 2001), few influence tactics scholars have disputed how to communicate with people for influencing their justice feeling, either. The present study clarified the function of interpersonal communication as a means of influencing people's perception of justice by revealing the relationships between three interpersonal communication tactics and perceived procedural justice. Hard interpersonal communication tactics such as a highhanded manner, demand/order, warning, and threat cannot mitigate people's perception of distributive injustice and can even promote that of procedural injustice. Authoritative ways of communication (i.e., hard interpersonal communication tactics) reflect the attitudes of insincerity and no respect to others and ignore others' opinions, which can promote people's injustice feelings. On the other hand, both rational interpersonal communication tactics (such as reasoning, promise, commitment, question, and self-disclosure) and soft interpersonal communication tactics (such as a friendly manner, praise, flattery, and sympathy) could alleviate their perception of injustice and develop that of procedural justice. The presentation and provision of reasonable explanations and information with rational ways of communication can raise the reliability of information and develop workers' trust in decision makers. This will result in promoting the perceived fairness of procedures with which they distribute outcomes. Those interpersonal communication tactics also show people the social sensitivity of a decision maker. The influence of a friendly manner, praise, flattery, and sympathy (i.e., soft interpersonal communication tactics) on the promotion of perceived procedural justice of the Japanese workers is also understandable because the Japanese are traditionally group oriented. Harmonious relationships can be nurtured in an organization by soft interpersonal communication tactics, and this will bring about a trust organizational climate, which can prevent information and outcome receivers from perceiving procedures as unjust and unfair. Soft interpersonal communication tactics will not threaten the dignity of outcome receivers, and they are proper communications for exhibiting the respect and sincerity of a decision maker to them.
The findings of this study also shed light on issues that interactional justice and influence tactics scholars have not considered, namely, why outcome or information recipients are willing or unwilling to process information that the decision makers communicate to them. As mentioned previously, motivating information recipients to process information is a precondition for persuading and influencing people with interpersonal communication tactics. The results of the present study indicate that individuals who formed their perception of procedural justice recognized that the decision makers used rational and soft interpersonal communication tactics. This suggests the possibility that individuals are inclined to process and accept information such as explanation and causal accounts with soft and rational interpersonal communication tactics. Then, they will understand the fair process of decision making. On the other hand, hard interpersonal communication tactics such as threat or warning will not motivate them to process information and hence never change their negative attitudes toward the decision and the decision maker, which will exacerbate their injustice feelings. This explains how interpersonal communication can cause information recipients either to accept or disregard information given by a decision maker. Thus, the concept of interpersonal communication tactics brought a new perspective to studies on interactional justice and influence tactics.
There are some important practical implications of the present study. Japanese companies need to establish a system by which workers can form appropriate judgments on fairness. The results and findings of the present study suggest the importance of interpersonal communication between superiors and subordinates for forming workers' perceptions of procedural justice. Soft interpersonal communication tactics should be the norm, so as to create an organizational climate wherein subordinates can communicate and consult with their supervisors without any hesitation. Those communication tactics are very useful specifically in Japanese companies that have been suffering from longer and severer recessions than ever and exacerbating workers' uncertainty of career stability by abolishing a seniority system and a grade personnel system. The drastic change of human resource management to performance-based personnel practices can reduce workers' trust in their companies. Supervisors should provide reasonable explanations; keep their word; listen to subordinates; try to get feedback by, for example, asking them questions; and open their minds with sufficient self-disclosures. Organizations need to develop training and education programs for managers to learn interpersonal communication skills. Using rational and soft interpersonal communication tactics effectively for promoting fairness judgment will help Japanese white-collar workers reduce their uncertainty of career stability indirectly, and then Japanese companies will be able to manage workers with performance-based personnel practices successfully.
There are some limitations of the present study that should be studied in the future research. First, in exploring the relationships among interpersonal communication tactics, perceived procedural justice, and the uncertainty of career stability, people's thresholds of tolerating uncertainty (i.e., uncertainty avoidance orientation) were not taken into consideration. The degree of tolerance for uncertainty varies even among people with the same cultural backgrounds. People who are likely to take a risk for a big success can be more tolerant to uncertain situations than those who are highly oriented toward uncertainty avoidance. Therefore, interpersonal communication tactics for forming procedural justice and then managing uncertainty are more necessary for the latter than for the former. Thus, it is possible that the effect of interpersonal communication is also variable according to the degree of uncertainty avoidance orientation.
In addition, the present study did not discuss how well and effectively interpersonal communication tactics should be used. Although the present study considered only the extent to which interpersonal communication tactics are used, the effectiveness like timing, directions, appropriateness, and so on also matters. In future studies, those matters should be discussed. Finally, the present study only considered situations in which employees received less than positive feedback and/ or information and addressed the variables as they related to the receipt of negative information. In future studies, positive situations in which employees' perceived justice can be promoted by the provision of positive feedback and/or information should also be considered.
The present study clarified the relationships among interpersonal communication, procedural justice, and the uncertainty of career stability and presented concrete interpersonal communication tactics for developing workers' perception of procedural justice. The relationships among the three concepts have been studied separately and independently in each of the academic fields of communication and organizational justice. Fairness heuristic theory has emphasized relationships between procedural justice and uncertainty reduction. Communication studies have suggested the relationships between interpersonal communication and uncertainty reduction specifically in dyadic interpersonal communication. The present study revealed the important function of interpersonal communication as procedural effects and that of procedural justice as a means of uncertainty management. Furthermore, no study has presented concrete interpersonal communications for promoting workers' procedural justice. This study presented three interpersonal communication tactics. Thus, although further studies are required to address the problems mentioned in the previous section, the findings of the present study contributed to both organizational communication and organizational justice fields in that they shed light on the possibility of a theoretical linkage between them.
Table 1. The Result of Factor Analysis Variable Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Factor 4 High-handed manner .91 -.03 -.12 -.03 Demand/order .89 -.01 -.08 -.04 Warning .85 .14 -.10 .10 Threat .86 .03 -.06 .15 Friendly manner -.47 .27 .63 -.21 Praise -.17 .23 .85 -.04 Flattery .03 07 .87 .09 Sympathy -.13 .10 .70 .25 Reasoning .09 .67 .13 -.28 Conditional promise .12 .68 .30 .14 Unconditional promise .08 .65 .11 .31 Normative appeal .12 .16 .17 .87 Question .04 .75 .00 .23 Self-disclosure -.21 .72 .12 -.08 Eigenvalues 3.44 2.60 2.60 1.17 Percentage 24.54 18.60 18.34 8.33 Cronbach's [alpha] .91 .76 .82 -- Note: Varimax rotation. Numbers in italics indicate the variables whose factor loadings were larger than .50. Table 2. Means, Standard Deviations, Correlations, and Reliabilities Correlations Variable n M SD 1 2 l. Age 292 35.80 6.84 2. Gender 287 0.11 0.32 -.14 * 3. Education 290 4.01 0.59 -.16 ** -.23 ** 4. Hard communication 295 3.17 1.43 .08 -.10 5. Rational communication 295 3.74 1.09 .01 -.17 ** 6. Soft communication 295 3.73 1.19 .02 -.10 * 7. Uncertainty 295 4.41 1.25 -.01 -.04 8. Procedural justice 295 4.02 1.43 -.06 -.10 * Correlations Variable 3 4 5 6 1. Age 2. Gender 3. Education 4. Hard communication .01 (.91) 5. Rational communication -.04 .05 (.76) 6. Soft communication .03 -.30 ** .37 ** (.82) 7. Uncertainty .01 .16 * .01 -.03 8. Procedural justice -.03 -.26 * .30 ** .31 ** Correlations Variable 7 8 1. Age 2. Gender 3. Education 4. Hard communication 5. Rational communication 6. Soft communication 7. Uncertainty (.79) 8. Procedural justice -.28 ** (.91) Note: Alpha coefficients (Cronbach's [alpha]) are on the diagonal in parentheses. * p < .05 level (one-tailed). ** p < .01 level (one-tailed). Table 3. Results of Multiple Regression Analysis Regression Coefficients (beta) Perceived Procedural Justice Variable Model 1 Model 2 Age -.09 -.07 Gender -.13 * -.09 Education -.07 -.05 Hard communication -.22 *** Soft communication .15 * Rational communication .26 *** Perceived procedural justice [R.sup.2] .02 .20 *** Adjusted [R.sup.2] .01 .18 *** F(df) 1.92 11.53 (3,278) (6,275) [DELTA] [R.sup.2] .18 *** Regression Coefficients (beta) Perceived Uncertainty Variable Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Age -.01 -.02 -.04 Gender -.05 -.03 -.06 Education .00 .00 -.01 Hard communication .18 ** .11 Soft communication .02 .06 Rational communication -.01 .07 Perceived procedural justice -.31 *** [R.sup.2] .00 .03 .11 *** Adjusted [R.sup.2] -.01 .01 .09 *** F(df) .20 1.50 4.68 (3,278) (6,275) (7,274) [DELTA] [R.sup.2] .03 * .08 *** * p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001.
(1.) A grade system refers to personnel practices whereby workers can obtain a higher grade and then a raise in salary when they are permitted to acquire enough ability to perform a job to which they are assigned according to their current grades. Although theoretically a grade system is practiced based on an individual's performance, and hence workers can descend to a lower position, it has actually been practiced just like Nenko or a seniority system, emphasizing the length of workers' service at a company because it is extremely difficult for superiors to evaluate them exactly and fairly. In Japan, the seniority system had been adopted in many companies since World War II until the late 1960s. Afterward, the grade system was a popular personnel practice from the early 1970s until recently. Performance-based personnel practices have been becoming conspicuous. Currently, both the grade system and the performance-based personnel practices are mixed in many companies, and the latter has been replacing the former.
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