The social construction of fairness: Social influence and sense making in organizations

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores how the social relationships employees have with peers and managers are associated with perceptions of organizational justice. These relationships are theoretically modelled as the conduits for social comparison, social cues, and social identification, which are sources of sense making about fairness 'in the eyes of the beholder.' It is argued that perceptions of procedural and interactional justice are affected by this type of social information processing because: (1) uncertainty exists about organizational procedures; (2) norms of interpersonal treatment vary between organizational cultures; and (3) interpersonal relationships symbolize membership in the organization. A structural equations model of data from workers in a telecommunications company showed that an employee's perceptions of both procedural and interactional fairness were significantly associated with the interactional fairness perceptions of a peer. In addition, employees' social capital, conceived as the number of relationships with managers, was positively associated with perceptions of interactional fairness. In the structural model, both procedural and interactional justice were themselves significant predictors of satisfaction with managerial maintenance of the employment relationship. The discussion highlights the key role which the fairness of interpersonal treatment appears to play in the formation of justice judgements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-37
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb. 2003


Dive into the research topics of 'The social construction of fairness: Social influence and sense making in organizations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this