Academic journal article Administrative Science Quarterly

Managing to Be Fair: An Exploration of Values, Motives, and Leadership

Academic journal article Administrative Science Quarterly

Managing to Be Fair: An Exploration of Values, Motives, and Leadership

Article excerpt

Managing to Be Fair: An Exploration of Values, Motives, and Leadership This paper explores several issues of distributive justice as they are represented in the thinking practices of managers. The particular focus is on the contrast between equity- and parity-based distribution logics, how these are likely to be affected by different value contexts and by personal philosophies of managing, and how justice-related concerns fit into the way managers are likely to approach allocation problems. Empirical data gathered from a sample of practicing managers concerning their preferences and reactions to standardized allocation problems indicated that managers are flexible in their use of equity- and parity-based logics and that their concerns about fairness are closely connected to other value considerations. The implications for a more expansive view of justice in the workplace are discussed.

It is difficult to imagine a model or theory of organization that does not acknowledge, at some level, the importance of issues surrounding the allocation of resources and that does not view managers as playing a key role in determining what and how resource benefits are distributed among groups and individual members (e.g., Katz and Kahn, 1966). Ideally, efforts to develop even a preliminary model of managerial allocation behavior would be informed by a body of work with two features: (1) a theoretical perspective from the expansive literature on distributive justice, which has explicitly focused on questions concerning the allocation of resources among social actors, and (2) an available set of data bases on the allocation responses of practicing managers.

Distributive Justice and Managerial Behavior

The study of distributive justice typically focuses on the allocation problems of decision makers who must distribute resources across a set of at least two actors. The decision maker in such problems may either be a third party who determines the allocations for others (third-party allocator) or may be one of the recipient targets (recipient-allocator). In the latter case, some or all of the parties who have a claim on the resources determine and evaluate the allocation decision. Whether the allocation decision involves a third-party allocator or a recipient-allocator, the substantive and analytic focus can be on either the allocator or the recipients. Typically, when interest is focused on the recipients, the important issues have to do with their relative levels of satisfaction, the perceived fairness of the decision process and/or its outcomes, and subsequent behavioral reactions to these judgments (e.g., Adams, 1965). When interest focuses on the allocator, analysis shifts to an examination of allocation patterns per se, and the implicit and explicit criteria used to generate those patterns (e.g., Leventhal, Karuza, and Fry, 1980). A distributive-justice researcher seeks to understand the responses of allocators in terms of their approximation to various normative standards, which thereby serve as analytic benchmarks for the essential features of a given solution. Social scientists have identified a number of these standards, often referred to as "justice principles" or "distribution rules," representing customary ways that allocators may determine the entitlements of recipients (Deutsch, 1975; Lerner, 1975).

There are a number of alternative views and perspectives now available in the literature on distributive justice for understanding the resolution of third-party allocation problems (Deutsch, 1985), many of which are of potential relevance to organizations (Martin, 1981; Greenberg, 1987). Two dominant themes capture the development of that literature from a narrow conceptualization of justice to a more expansive treatment of the role of justice in human affairs. One set of issues focuses on the distributive rules by which entitlements to various outcomes are determined. Initial views based exclusively on equity formulations (Adams, 1965), with its underpinnings in social exchange (Homans, 1961; Blau, 1964; Emerson, 1976), have gradually given way to the examination of many alternative rules on which entitlements can be based and that different allocators can use on different occasions. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.