Fairness Today: From the perspective of organizational justice

Author Name MORISHIMA Motohiro  (Hitotsubashi University)
Creation Date/NO. October 2008 08-J-060
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In large numbers of firms and organizations today there is a major shift away from an equality principle (quasi equality principle) that seeks to ensure fairness by keeping disparities in resource allocations low, and towards a principle of equity approach where resources are allocated (i.e. remuneration is paid) in accordance with the degree of contribution to the organization or firm. However, in reality, securing fairness under the principle of equity has caused numerous difficulties and there has been a great deal of discussion on how to retrospectively address the unfairness of the principle of equity.

Amid this, within firms a complementary philosophy of "procedural justice" is being adopted, and in many cases relief is being provided when company employees or members of organizations perceive resource allocation to be inequitable. Premised on the fact that it is difficult to establish the fairness of the results of allocation in accordance with the principle of equity, fairness is established in the following way. The persons (workers) receiving allocations participate partially in the process of determining allocations and engage in any subsequent dispute resolution.

In this paper I first explain the difficulty of the shift from the quasi equality principle to the principle of equity, and explain the philosophy of "procedural justice," which complements partially the problem areas in the principle of equity. In addition, I analyze questionnaire-based surveys conducted in 2004 and 2005 in combination with corporate performance data, showing that procedural justice measures may have contributed not only to gaining the compliance of workers, but also to corporate performance. In particular, this suggests that the introduction of mechanisms to ensure the fairness of company-level procedures, such as permanent bodies for labor-management discussion and structures for working people to declare their grievances, is important in relation to corporate business performance.