Linking Organizational Justice to Organizational Commitment Among Nigerian Police Officers

AuthorGilbert C. Aro,Smart E. Otu,Macpherson U. Nnam,Yuning Wu,Ikechukwu Charles Akor,Ivan Y. Sun
Published date01 February 2022
Date01 February 2022
Subject MatterArticles
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, 2022, Vol. 49, No. 2, February 2022, 220 –238.
Article reuse guidelines:
© 2021 International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
University of Delaware
Wayne State University
Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike
Organizational commitment is an imperative aspect of occupational attitudes as it signals employees’ willingness to stay with
their organization and effectively achieve collective goals. Although recent studies have assessed factors influencing police
officers’ organizational commitment, very little is known about the antecedents of police commitment in African countries.
Based on a survey of Nigerian police officers, the study assesses the linkage between organizational justice and organizational
commitment directly and indirectly through organizational trust and job satisfaction. Structural equation modeling (SEM)
indicates that the relationship between organizational justice and organizational commitment is principally indirect through
the mediating mechanisms of supervisory trustworthiness and job satisfaction. Officers who express greater organizational
justice report higher trust in their management and supervisors and, subsequently, stronger job satisfaction, leading to higher
organizational commitment. Implications for future research and policy are discussed.
Keywords: organizational commitment; organizational justice; job satisfaction; organizational trust; Nigerian police
Frontline staff constitute an indispensable part of criminal justice organizations as they
are responsible for carrying out core functions necessary for the successful maintenance of
law and order. Their occupational outlooks and operational styles are influenced by various
factors of both internal and external environments. For instance, as an imperative aspect of
work-related attitudes, organizational commitment is influenced by organizational and
supervisory treatments toward its members (Johnson, 2015; Tankebe, 2010). Organizational
commitment signals personal bonds that employees form with their organization over time
while performing their assigned individual and collective roles in an organization (Allen &
AUTHORS’ NOTE: This research was funded by tertiary education trust fund. Correspondence concerning
this article should be addressed to Ivan Y. Sun, Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice, University of
Delaware, Newark, DE 19716; e-mail:
1036177CJBXXX10.1177/00938548211036177Criminal Justice and BehaviorSun et al. / Organizational Commitment Among Nigerian Police
Meyer, 1990; Lambert et al., 2015). High employee commitment levels generate beneficial
outcomes, such as better job performance and work engagement and lower turnover (van
Gelderen & Bik, 2016).
In policing, recent studies have identified a plethora of antecedents or correlates of police
organizational commitment. Most studies found that police officers’ commitment to their
organization is affected by such organizational and work characteristics as leadership styles
and management practices, fair and supportive administrators and supervisors, job type,
autonomy, and training (Baek, 2020; Frank et al., 2020; Johnson, 2015; Shim et al., 2015).
Other studies focused on individual officers’ emotional states, showing that their levels of
strain, psychological well-being, stress from work–family conflict, and job satisfaction are
also predictive of organizational commitment (Nalla et al., 2020; Qureshi et al., 2019).
Some studies of correctional officers’ organizational commitment also revealed that
organizational commitment was adversely associated with work behaviors, such as turn-
over intent/turnover, absenteeism, and staff burnout. Others reported positive connections
between organizational commitment and organizational citizenship behaviors (i.e., working
harder, being loyal), greater life satisfaction, and heightened work performance (Hogan
et al., 2013; Lambert & Hogan, 2009). When employees are committed, their involvement
in the organization takes on moral overtones, and their stake tends to extend beyond the
satisfaction of merely personal interest in employment, income, and intrinsically rewarding
Our study continues this important line of investigation by assessing three correlates
of organizational commitment among police officers in Nigeria. We draw mainly upon
organizational justice and organizational trust theories (Greenberg, 1987), which posit
that perceived organizational fairness and trustworthiness among organizational mem-
bers are likely to yield positive attitudes and behaviors among employees, such as job
satisfaction and organizational commitment. As shown in Figure 1, organizational jus-
tice is linked to organizational commitment directly and indirectly through the mediat-
ing mechanisms of organizational trust and job satisfaction. Police organizational
commitment has been widely studied in major Western democracies (Jaramillo et al.,
2005; Johnson, 2015) and Asian countries of India, Israel, Pakistan, and South Korea
(Baek, 2020; Lambert et al., 2015; Nalla et al., 2020; Shim et al., 2015). However, only
one study has assessed police organizational commitment in Africa (Tankebe, 2010).
Our study can extend the empirical understanding of critical police occupational out-
looks and their correlates in Africa.
In addition to organizational commitment, another key concept in recent studies of insti-
tution–officer interactions is organizational justice, a multidimensional concept that indi-
cates officers’ perceptions of fair treatment by their agency (Bradford et al., 2014).
Organizational justice stresses employees’ perceptions that the employing organization
treats workers in a just and fair manner (Greenberg, 1990). Organizational justice is instru-
mental in facilitating greater job satisfaction, commitment to democratic policing and the
rule of law, compliance with rules and policies, and fair treatment of and trust in the public,
and in reducing job turnover and the impact of adverse events on officers (Bradford et al.,
2014; Haas et al., 2015; Kutajak Ivkovic et al., 2020; Myhill & Bradford, 2013; Nix &
Wolfe, 2016; Sun et al., 2018; Trinkner et al., 2016; Van Craen & Skogan, 2017; Wu et al.,
2017). Despite consistent evidence supporting organizational justice’s role in leading to
favorable outcomes, we know little about the linkage between organizational justice and

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