When Fairness Neither Satisfies nor Motivates: The Role of Risk Aversion and Uncertainty Reduction in Attenuating and Reversing the Fair Process Effect

Posted: 21 May 2010 Last revised: 20 Aug 2014

See all articles by Sreedhari D. Desai

Sreedhari D. Desai

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School

Harris Sondak

University of Utah

Kristina A. Diekmann

University of Utah - Department of Management

Abstract

It is widely acknowledged that procedural justice has many positive effects. However, some evidence suggests that procedural justice may not always have positive effects and may even have negative effects. We present three studies that vary in method and participant populations, including an archival study, a field study, and an experiment, using data provided by the general American population, Indian software engineers, and undergraduate students in the U.S. We demonstrate that key work-related variables such as people’s job satisfaction and performance depend on procedural justice, perceived uncertainty, and risk aversion such that risk seeking people react less positively and at times negatively to the same fair procedures that appeal to risk averse people. Our results suggest that one possible reason for these effects is that being treated fairly reduces people’s perception of uncertainty in the environment and while risk averse people find low uncertainty desirable and react positively to it, risk seeking people do not. We discuss the implications of our findings for theories of procedural justice including the uncertainty management model of fairness, the fair process effect, and fairness heuristic theory.

Keywords: procedural justice, uncertainty, risk aversion, performance, job satisfaction

Suggested Citation

Desai, Sreedhari D. and Sondak, Harris and Diekmann, Kristina A., When Fairness Neither Satisfies nor Motivates: The Role of Risk Aversion and Uncertainty Reduction in Attenuating and Reversing the Fair Process Effect. IACM 23rd Annual Conference Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1612483 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1612483

Sreedhari D. Desai (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

Chapel Hill, NC
United States

Harris Sondak

University of Utah ( email )

1645 E. Campus Center
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States

Kristina A. Diekmann

University of Utah - Department of Management ( email )

1645 E Campus Center Dr
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States
801-581-8524 (Phone)
801-581-7214 (Fax)

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