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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The meaning and essence of fairness in the workplace: A phenomenological study of organizational justice
by Smith, R. Stephen, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2010, 310; 3397627
Abstract (Summary)

The large volume of research published on organizational justice is a testament to its importance, but the sparseness of qualitative studies has been at odds with its phenomenological nature. After all, organizational justice is the study of people's perceptions of fairness in the workplace. Yet definitions of the constructs of organizational justice appear to favor the interests and outcomes of the organization over the direct experiences lived by and the abstract conceptualizations made by the worker. There has been an outward focus for organizational justice. Less apparent has been an inward focus on understanding and responding to the perceptions about workplace fairness formed by the individual. The accepted constructs of organizational justice have supported analysis of outcomes, exchanges, and activities created and controlled to advance the interests of the organization and have not considered the everyday work life of the worker.

This qualitative study of fairness in the workplace in the tradition of transcendental phenomenology used a purposeful sample of eight correctional officers. The analysis yielded a composite statement of the meaning and essence of the workers’ experience of fairness and unfairness in the workplace. This study revealed five properties of workplace fairness expressed by the workers: place, contribution, situation, relationships with others, and relationship with one's own work. Unique qualities were defined for each property and accompanied by descriptors of valence indicating the workers’ polarity towards fairness and unfairness.

A second finding was that the temporality of workplace fairness extends in time beyond organization boundaries. Third, there are direct experiences and conceptualizations that involve workers of which the organization may be unaware. The fourth and final finding is that the organization may desire to lead workers to form perceptions of organizational justice, but workers form perceptions about workplace fairness on their own.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Casey, Andrea J.
Commitee: Bies, Robert J., Croswell, Clyde V.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 71/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Occupational psychology, Labor relations, Organization Theory, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Correctional officers, Employee perception, Fairness, Organizational justice, Transcendental phenomenology, Workplace fairness
Publication Number: 3397627
ISBN: 978-1-109-69717-9
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