Cross-Level Relationships between Justice Climate and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Perceived Organizational Support as Mediator

By Zhang, Li; Qiu, Yang et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, April 2017 | Go to article overview

Cross-Level Relationships between Justice Climate and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Perceived Organizational Support as Mediator


Zhang, Li, Qiu, Yang, Teng, Eryue, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


The focus in organizational citizenship behavior research has largely been on its potential antecedents (e.g., Lloyd, Boer, Keller, & Voelpel, 2015). In many organizations, employees often make judgments about how they perceive justice (Colquitt, 2001), especially at group level (Naumann & Bennett, 2000), which will affect employee attitudes and behavior. Moreover, the perceptions of justice across group members can have a greater effect on employee outcomes compared to individual-level justice perceptions (Ohana, 2014). However, despite these robust findings, there are many unexplored aspects of the cross-level relationship between justice climate and organizational citizenship behavior.

Although numerous findings have demonstrated a positive effect of procedural justice climate on employee organizational citizenship behavior (e.g., Cole, Carter, & Zhang, 2013; Lin & Leung, 2014), few researchers have examined the relative influence of other types of fairness (e.g., interpersonal and informational justice climate) on organizational citizenship behavior. In this study, we used procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice climate measures to assess the extent to which they may be differentially related to organizational citizenship behavior.

Most empirical researchers of individual justice perceptions have examined the links between perceived justice and organizational citizenship behavior (e.g., Zhang, Farh, & Wang, 2012). However, few have focused on understanding how the forms of justice climate are related to employee organizational citizenship behavior. Thus, in this study, we sought to identify and examine the mechanisms of the effect of procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice climate on organizational citizenship behavior.

Literature Review and Hypotheses Development

Justice Climate and Organizational Citizenship Behavior

In line with the definition used previously (Naumann & Bennett, 2000), we defined procedural justice climate as a distinct group-level cognition of the procedural justice of organizational authorities. Similarly, interpersonal justice climate primarily refers to the group-level cognition of the interpersonal sensitivity by which organizational procedures are carried out and informational justice climate focuses on the extent to which explanations provided by management personnel are perceived to convey information about why decisions were made (Colquitt, 2001).

Researchers have suggested that individual group members concentrate on how the work group as a whole is treated and how other members of their group react to the treatment (Naumann & Bennett, 2000). Some researchers have indirectly suggested that justice climate is significantly related to organizational citizenship behavior. For example, Liao and Rupp (2005) found that if employees believe that they are being treated fairly, they will have a positive attitude toward their work, will display a high level of commitment to the organization, and will improve their overall level of organizational citizenship behavior. According to social exchange theory, employees who are treated fairly as a group will work in a positive manner (Blau, 1964). Therefore, employees who are treated fairly are more likely to engage in organizational citizenship behavior (e.g., help their coworkers). Thus, we proposed the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1a: Procedural justice climate will be positively related to organizational citizenship behavior.

Hypothesis 1b: Interpersonal justice climate will be positively related to organizational citizenship behavior.

Hypothesis 1c: Informational justice climate will be positively related to organizational citizenship behavior.

Mediating Role of Perceived Organizational Support

According to perceived organizational support theory (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986), employee perceptions of fair organizational treatment contribute to their perceptions of organizational motives. …

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