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dc.contributor.advisorMurphy, Susan
dc.contributor.advisorMcwha-Hermann, Ishbel
dc.contributor.authorXu, Xiaomin
dc.date.accessioned2022-01-14T15:11:33Z
dc.date.available2022-01-14T15:11:33Z
dc.date.issued2021-07-31
dc.identifier.urihttps://hdl.handle.net/1842/38424
dc.identifier.urihttp://dx.doi.org/10.7488/era/1689
dc.description.abstractThe importance of organisational justice for employees, employers and society is well established. Although a large body of literature has investigated how justice recipients react to their own experiences of (in)justice, relatively little research examines observers’ reactions. Hence, this thesis explores organisational (in)justice from the observer perspective. Across four studies, the thesis examines observer motivations, processes and reactions in response to observed (in)justice at work. In addition, it investigates how contextual and individual factors influence observer responses to observed organisational (in)justice. In light of the relative dearth of research on observed injustice, study 1 qualitatively explored what kind of injustice incidents observers observe at work, how they react towards organisational injustice and the motives that underlie their reactions. Drawing on 53 critical incidents reflecting various forms of injustice (distributive, procedural, and interactional), this study found rational, emotional and behavioural reactions that underlie a complex interplay of self-interested and morally motivated responses. In addition, the data provided evidence for a previously unidentified reaction to observed injustice, one of apathy and ‘low-concern’, characterised by normalisation, acceptance and inaction. Further analysis of the ‘low-concern’ response suggests potential boundary conditions that may affect the extent to which observers react to organisational injustice. Building on study 1, study 2 and 3 used a longitudinal approach to examine the cognitive processes underpinning observed organisational justice. A dual-motivation model was hypothesised based on existing justice theories. Results of a two-wave survey from 252 employees in an online education company showed that observed organisational justice (after controlling for perceived organisational justice) affected observers’ counterproductive work behaviour via person–organisation moral value fit along a moral-concern path, and it affected observer organisation-directed citizenship behaviour via organisational trust along a self-concern path. The mediations of the moral- and self-concern cognitions were salient above and beyond their corresponded emotional mechanisms. Study 3 again tested the dual-motivation model and further explored the moral- and self-relevant individual factors underlying observers’ cognitions and reactions. Results of a three-wave survey from 359 employees in a manufacturing company replicated the dual-motivation model and showed that employees with higher other-concern orientation reacted more strongly along the moral-concern path whereas those with higher self-concern orientation reacted more strongly along the self-concern path. Study 2 and 3 together highlight the significant influence of observed organisational justice beyond perceived organisational justice and call for more research to investigate moral and self-concern motives simultaneously. In recognition of the potential for injustice to trigger negative behavioural reactions, Study 4 examined malicious reactions to observed (in)justice at work using an experimental design. The study examined how contextual and individual factors influence employees’ schadenfreude, envy and derogation towards observed organisational (in)justice using a 2 (competition vs. non-competition) × 2 (abusive vs. respectful supervision) between subject design with 316 full-time employees. Results suggested that competition at work can exacerbate schadenfreude, envy and derogation towards co-workers’ (in)justice experience. High self-esteem can have both functional and dysfunctional effects. Overall, this thesis contributes to the literature in the following four main ways. The first contribution rests on the dual motives underlying employee reactions to observed organisational (in)justice. In contrast to previous research, this thesis shows that observer reactions not only can be driven by moral-concern motives, but can also be influenced by self-concern motives or a combination of both motives simultaneously. The second contribution of this thesis is extending prior focus of emotional mechanisms underlie observer reactions. Specifically, this thesis establishes the effects of cognitive processes of observed (in)justice above and beyond emotional processes. The third contribution pertains to the observer malicious reactions to observed (in)justice at work. Adding to the recent discussion of malicious workplace interactions, this thesis shows how observed (in)justice at work triggers observer malicious emotions (i.e., schadenfreude and envy) and their connections with derogation of competitors. Finally, this thesis provides valuable insights of relevant individual and contextual factors that alter the effects of observed (in)justice on different observer motives, cognitions, emotions and behaviours. This thesis offers three implications to management practice. First, organisations should be aware that unfair treatment of a few employees could affect the work attitudes and behaviours of numerous observers. Thus, organisations should maintain a climate of justice. Second, where injustice cannot be avoided, or has already occurred, organisations cannot just remedy the situation among recipients. It is also important to mitigate some of the damages to observers’ attitudes and behaviours by taking steps to increase their evaluation of organisational trustworthiness and ethics. Finally, a competition context can be an excuse for injustice and fosters malicious interpersonal dynamics at work. Organisations should prevent using incentives that are likely to foster a zero-sum competition context at work.en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherThe University of Edinburghen
dc.subjectn/aen
dc.titleObserving organisational (in)justice: motivations, processes and reactionsen
dc.typeThesis or Dissertationen
dc.type.qualificationlevelDoctoralen
dc.type.qualificationnamePhD Doctor of Philosophyen
dc.rights.embargodate2023-07-31en
dcterms.accessRightsRestricted Accessen


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