Organizational Politics, Justice, and Support: Managing the Social Climate of the Workplace

By Russell S. Cropanzano; K. Michele Kacmar | Go to book overview

5
Justice and Authority Relations in Organizations

E. Allan Lind

The past decade has seen a remarkable development of theory and research on the effects of justice judgments in organizational settings and on the factors that lead workers to view organizational actions and policies as fair. Perhaps the most exciting developments have been those that show a clear link between organizational justice and reactions to organizational authority. In this chapter I will discuss some of the research on this topic and I will present a new theory of justice and organizational authority. Then I will describe some findings from a number of recent studies that support the theory. Before getting into issues of organizational justice too deeply, though, let me describe the need for a better understanding of how authority processes work in organizations.


AUTHORITY IN ORGANIZATIONS

The study of authority in social psychology and organizational behavior has a long history but a surprisingly small research literature. 1 Over the years researchers have occasionally turned their attention to the factors that lead people to obey or disobey authorities, but generally the motivation behind the research has been to discover how to avoid blind obedience. To cite just two examples that are classics in the social psychological literature, Milgram ( 1965) conducted a series of laboratory experiments designed to document overobedience to orders to harm others, and Kelman and Hamilton ( 1989) conducted a survey to document what people view as appropriate and inappropriate levels of obedience. In both instances, though, the clear goal of the researcher was to discover how to keep people from obeying illegal or immoral orders from authorities.

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