Subjectivity in fairness perceptions: How heuristics and self-efficacy shape the fairness expectations and perceptions of organisational newcomers

Samantha L. Jordan, University of North Texas
Joshua C. Palmer, Kennesaw State University
Shanna R. Daniels, Florida State University
Wayne A. Hochwarter, Florida State University


The very nature of perceived injustice cuts to the heart of employees' cognition, attitudes and behaviours in the workplace. Yet, researchers and practitioners are woefully uninformed about what drives the subjectivity of unfairness perceptions. Using an integration of fairness heuristic and uncertainty management theories as a theoretical foundation to drive our hypothesis development, we conducted a multi-study investigation to examine individual-level correlates of unfairness expectations and perceptions in the context of newcomer organisational entry. Across two studies, we found support for the positive association between prior unfairness experiences (i.e. global unfairness heuristic) and expectations of unfairness (i.e. anticipatory injustice) at work. As an extension, Study 2 examined and found support for the interactive effect of global unfairness heuristics and competency-related beliefs (i.e. self-efficacy) on the formation of anticipatory injustice. Furthermore, Study 2 documented both direct and indirect associations between employees' global unfairness heuristic, anticipatory injustice, perceived injustice, job satisfaction and counterproductive work (CWB) behaviours. Overall, our work sheds light on the importance of perceiver-specific factors for better informing the complex, idiosyncratic nature of perceived work unfairness. We discuss theoretical contributions, future research directions and practical implications.