Assessing the Six-Factor Model of Organizational Justice in the Context of Workplace Mediation

AuthorJessica Katz Jameson,Dennis M. Daley,RaJade M. Berry-James,Jerrell D. Coggburn
Date01 September 2020
Published date01 September 2020
Subject MatterArticles
Review of Public Personnel Administration
2020, Vol. 40(3) 355 –383
© The Author(s) 2018
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0734371X18816758
Assessing the Six-Factor
Model of Organizational
Justice in the Context of
Workplace Mediation
Jerrell D. Coggburn1, Dennis M. Daley1,
Jessica Katz Jameson1, and RaJade M. Berry-James1
Applying the six-factor model of organizational justice, this study examines the
relationship between disputants’ (i.e., grievants and respondents) perceptions of
organizational justice and satisfaction with workplace mediation. Using secondary
data, collected postmediation from participants in the (former) North Carolina
Department of Correction’s (DOC) mediation process, the findings show that
perceptions of organizational justice and mediation satisfaction are high for both
grievants and, especially, respondents. Logistic regression results find statistically
significant relationships between mediation satisfaction and three factors of
organizational justice—distributive justice, procedural justice–process, and disputant–
disputant interpersonal justice—as well as unexpected results for procedural justice–
mediator and disputant–mediator interpersonal justice.
workplace mediation, organizational justice, alternative dispute resolution, civil
service reform, grievances, discipline
Organizational justice is concerned with fairness. It is “fundamentally about how
employees construct meaning around their treatment in the workplace—whether they
perceive themselves to have been treated fairly and how this perception impacts the
nature of the employment relationship” (Sowa, 2016, p. 228). Employees’ perceptions
1North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA
Corresponding Author:
Jerrell D. Coggburn, Department of Public Administration, School of Public and International Affairs,
North Carolina State University, Campus Box 8102, Raleigh, NC 27695-8102, USA.
816758ROPXXX10.1177/0734371X18816758Review of Public Personnel AdministrationCoggburn et al.
356 Review of Public Personnel Administration 40(3)
about how their organization treats them have important effects on attitudes, behaviors
and, in turn, organizational outcomes. Employee discipline and grievance systems rep-
resent critical arenas for shaping perceptions and ensuring the provision of organiza-
tional justice (Folger & Greenberg, 1985; Fryxell & Gordon, 1989).
In the public sector, substantive and procedural due process protections are built
into grievance and discipline systems. Grounded in constitutional and administrative
law (Hassan, 2013; Rubin, 2009) and reflecting an underlying bureaucratic paradigm
(Moynihan & Ingraham, 2012), these systems shape collective views of organiza-
tional justice through individual cases (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng,
2001). Grievances are employee initiated and entail allegations that the employer
failed to adhere to organizational objectives and procedures. Such allegations are
often related to the denial of a work-related benefit (e.g., pay, promotion, job assign-
ment). Discipline is employer initiated, with the employer (manager or supervisor)
claiming that the employee broke a rule or did not follow appropriate procedures for
achieving the organization’s objectives (Haraway, 2005; Posthuma, 2003). It entails
the imposition of a penalty, which in a progressive discipline system may lead to
or—depending on the severity of the offense—result in employee demotion or dis-
missal. The perception of fairness is particularly important given the seriousness of
these disciplinary consequences.
Organizational justice is a salient issue in light of ongoing developments in the field
of public human resource management. Traditional, merit-based civil service systems
that promote politically neutral competence and professionalism and protect public
servants from political interference and abuse are increasingly under siege (Brewer &
Walker, 2013; Kearney & Coggburn, 2016; Selden, 2006). Over roughly the last 25
years, civil service reform at the local, state, and federal levels has altered the status of
public employees and the public employer–employee relationship (Coggburn et al.,
2010; Condrey & Battaglio, 2007; Hays & Sowa, 2006; Kearney & Coggburn, 2016;
Light, 2006). Merit-based systems are often criticized as cumbersome, inflexible, inef-
ficient, unresponsive (i.e., to political/executive control and citizens), and outdated,
hence civil service reform has targeted procedural safeguards, especially those embod-
ied in employee discipline and grievance systems.1 As Rubin (2009, p. 129) noted,
Disciplinary, appeal, and termination procedures are arguably the most rule-bound of
government personnel management rules. The rules require documentation, opportunities
for improvement, and opportunities for hearings. It is claimed that such requirements
create a disincentive for managers to discipline an employee or begin termination
In some settings, employees’ procedural protections have been substantially reduced
or, with employment at will, eliminated (Coggburn, 2006; Coggburn et al., 2010; Hays
& Sowa, 2006). This is a problematic trend given the potential harm done to employ-
ees and their innate expectations of organizational justice (Boswell & Olson-Buchanan,
2004; Daley, 2007; Rubin, 2009; Rubin & Kellough, 2012; Sowa, 2016).

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