Human Relations

The articles for the Human Relations Special Issue associated with the Second International Workshop on Organisational Justice and Behavioural Ethics are now available online at Sage. The abstracts are below – you can click on the titles to go to the Human Relations page for that article.


Jonathan R Crawshaw, Russell Cropanzano, Chris M Bell, and Thierry Nadisic

Organizational justice: New insights from behavioural ethics

Both organizational justice and behavioural ethics are concerned with questions of ‘right and wrong’ in the context of work organizations. Until recently they have developed largely independently of each other, choosing to focus on subtly different concerns, constructs and research questions. The last few years have, however, witnessed a significant growth in theoretical and empirical research integrating these closely related academic specialities. We review the organizational justice literature, illustrating the impact of behavioural ethics research on important fairness questions. We argue that organizational justice research is focused on four reoccurring issues: (i) why justice at work matters to individuals; (ii) how justice judgements are formed; (iii) the consequences of injustice; and (iv) the factors antecedent to justice perceptions. Current and future justice research has begun and will continue borrowing from the behavioural ethics literature in answering these questions.

Rebecca L Greenbaum, Mary Bardes Mawritz, David M Mayer, and Manuela Priesemuth

To act out, to withdraw, or to constructively resist? Employee reactions to supervisor abuse of customers and the moderating role of employee moral identity

We extend the deontic model of justice (Folger, 1998, 2001) by arguing that not all employees respond to third-party injustices by experiencing an eye-for-an-eye retributive response; rather, some employees respond in ways that are higher in moral acceptance (e.g. increasing turnover intentions, engaging in constructive resistance). We predict that the positive relationship between supervisor abuse of customers and organizational deviance is weaker when employees are high in moral identity. In contrast, we hypothesize that the relationships between supervisor abuse of customers and turnover intentions and constructive resistance are more strongly positive when employees are high in moral identity. Regression results from two field studies (N = 222 and N = 199, respectively) provide general support for our theoretical model.


Jeremy P Fyke and Patrice M Buzzanell

The ethics of conscious capitalism: Wicked problems in leading change and changing leaders

Given corporate scandals, organizational crises, and accounting irregularities (e.g. Citigroup, BP oil spill, Enron, Arthur Andersen), leadership ethics has grown in relevance. The current study takes a discursive approach to engage in a multimethod case study of a consulting and leadership development firm that takes Conscious Capitalism as the impetus for, and target of, leader development. Using constructivist grounded theory and critical discourse analysis, we reveal themes and ‘best practices’ voiced by consultants and clients for cultivating mindfulness and developing ethical leaders, as well as micro- and macro-level paradoxes, tensions, and challenges: structuring-releasing; expanding-contracting; opening up-closing; and collaborating-competing. Our critical approach contributes (a) a critique of Conscious Capitalism as a Discourse that appears to offer hope for business ethics and societal transformation and (b) a critique of ethical leadership development through embedded power relations and the complex discursive processes within and driven by leadership development and ethics at the intersection of various d/Discourses. This research helps explain some of the challenges involved in developing ethical leaders. We reveal that although Conscious Capitalism appears to offer solutions to many of today’s social problems, including leadership ethics, developing ethical leaders ironically leads to problems that are ‘wicked.’


Niek Hoogervorst, David De Cremer, and Marius van Dijke

When do leaders grant voice? How leaders’ perceptions of followers’ control and belongingness needs affect the enactment of fair procedures

Theories that explain employees’ positive emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses to fair procedures rely on control and relational processes. In the present study, we build on these models, but reverse this perspective to examine when leaders provide voice opportunities in their interactions with employees. We argued that leaders may take care of employees’ perceived individual control needs (which influence their own outcomes) by granting them voice. However, this will be the case particularly when leaders perceive that this employee also wants to belong to the organization, because this makes it more likely that employees will use their voice in a way that does not hurt the organization’s interest. Support for this predicted interaction effect was found in a laboratory experiment and a multisource field study. This research is among the first to identify factors that influence whether leaders will be more likely to act fairly, thus integrating procedural justice processes in the leadership literature.


Christian J Resick, Michael B Hargis, Ping Shao, and Scott B Dust

Ethical leadership, moral equity judgments, and discretionary workplace behavior

The current study examines the role of ethical cognition as a psychological mechanism linking ethical leadership to employee engagement in specific discretionary workplace behaviors. Hypotheses are developed proposing that ethical leadership is associated with employees’ negative moral equity judgments of workplace deviance (a discretionary antisocial behavior) and positive moral equity judgments of organizational citizenship (a discretionary prosocial behavior). In addition, hypotheses propose that moral equity judgments are a key type of ethical cognition linking ethical leadership with employee behaviors. Hypotheses are tested in a cross-organizational sample of 190 supervisor–employee dyads. Results indicate that employees who work for ethical leaders tended to judge acts of workplace deviance as morally inequitable and acts of organizational citizenship as morally equitable. In turn, these judgments guided employee regulation of behavior, and mediated the relationships between ethical leadership and employee avoidance of antisocial conduct and engagement in prosocial behavior.


Robert Folger, Deshani B Ganegoda, Darryl B Rice, Regina Taylor, and David XH Wo

Bounded autonomy and behavioral ethics: Deonance and reactance as competing motives

We analyze business behavioral ethics in terms of bounded autonomy, namely the result of tensions between the countervailing motivations of reactance (tendencies that involve the freedom of behaving in certain ways as a right) versus deonance (tendencies that involve the appropriateness of behaving in certain ways as an obligation). We focus in particular on how the resolution of such tensions (i.e. establishment of a boundary between rights and duties—“free” behaviors versus “non-free” behaviors—in a state of dynamic equilibrium) can cause behavior to be seen as ethical by the person performing the behavior (the actor), but seen as unethical by impartial observers. That discrepancy comes from the actor’s assessment of the behavior in question as having either an inherent status (the type of behavior it is) or an instrumental status (what it does). This analysis leads us to a discussion of the following four types of situations involving unethical behavior: freedom expansion based on a behavior’s inherent status or on its instrumental status; and freedom contraction based on a behavior’s inherent status or on its instrumental status. We outline propositions consistent with those distinctions and conclude with theoretical implications.


Zhe Zhang and Ming Jia

How can companies decrease the disruptive effects of stretch goals? The moderating role of interpersonal- and informational- justice climates

This article attempts to determine whether stretch goals disrupt organizations and, if so, how organizations minimize those disruptions. We consider how two different kinds of justice climates − interpersonal and informational − interact to influence employees’ unethical behavior and relationship conflicts in the face of stretch goals. The results from 117 departments (including a total of 351 employees and 117 managers) in six Chinese banks support our hypotheses that stretch goals foster unethical behavior and intensify relationship conflict among employees. Furthermore, we find that informational-justice climates greatly reduce the disruptive effect of stretch goals on unethical behavior, and we find that interpersonal-justice climates greatly reduce the disruptive effect of stretch goals on relationship conflict. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.