Organizational Culture

Four-Factor Justice and Daily Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction has been shown to be directly linked to positive work outcomes such as organizational citizenship behaviors. Although it is relatively stable over time, a person’s job satisfaction does vary on a day-to-day basis. One key aspect that influences a person’s daily job satisfaction is the perception of justice in the organization.

Four-Factor Model of Organizational Justice

Organizational justice is the subjective perception a person has of how fair their organization is. There are four types of organizational justice. The first two are structural forms of justice, meaning they are stable over time. These are:
  • Distributive justice – fairness of the distribution of organizational resources.
  • Procedural justice – fairness of the organizational procedures.
For example, compensation and rules for allocating pay do not change day-to-day, therefore the fairness perceptions toward the organization based on the distribution and procedures will be stable. The other two types of organizational justice are social forms of justice, meaning they are more variable and dependent on day-to-day events and interactions. These are:
  • Interpersonal justice – fair and respectful treatment within the organization.
  • Informational justice – fair amount and timeliness of shared information.
People will encounter different levels of respect and information shared with them depending on the situation. Therefore, their interpersonal and informational justice perceptions are likely to change more often than the structural forms of justice.

How Do the Four Types of Justice Affect Daily Job Satisfaction?

People will base their perceptions of fairness on the most readily available information. While all forms of justice are positively related to job satisfaction, regular appraisals of job satisfaction are heavily influenced by the daily interpersonal and informational justice perceptions, as this information is more current and accessible. The structural forms of justice enhance (or constrain) the relationship social forms of justice have with everyday job satisfaction. Specifically, the positive relationship interpersonal justice has with everyday job satisfaction is stronger when there is less distributive justice and weaker when there is more distributive justice. Since distributions of resources and respectful treatment can both be considered as outcomes, when people feel that the distribution of resources is unfair, they will look more to the treatment they are receiving from their supervisors and organization to supplement the lack of material outcomes. Also, the positive relationship informational justice has with everyday job satisfaction is stronger when there is less procedural justice and weaker when there is more procedural justice. The reason this occurs is if people perceive procedures to be unfair, they will be looking for explanations and information from supervisors to continually assess the situation.

Practical Implications

In today’s competitive marketplace, it is important for employers to provide employees with organizational justice in order reap the positive outcomes of highly satisfied employees. Managers and supervisors should always strive for fairness in the distribution of resources and the procedures to allocate them. They should also strive to treat employees with respect and dignity and provide timely and sufficient communication. Being aware of how the different forms of justice interact to influence daily job satisfaction will help managers and supervisors keep employees satisfied, even in situations where some injustice may be perceived. If employees perceive unfairness in the distribution of resources, managers and supervisors should strive to provide even better treatment to their employees. If employees perceive unfairness in the procedures used to allocate resources, managers should strive for even more two-way communication with the employees.

Lexy Adkins


This was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Loi, R., Yang, J., & Diefendorff, J.M. (2009). Four-factor justice and daily job satisfaction: A multilevel investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 770-781.