Reflections of Systemic Justice? - Employees' and Supervisors' Experiences of Injustice in the Performance Appraisal and Merit pay Context

Johanna Maaniemi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

Abstract

The perceptions of justice are important when the adequacy of performance appraisal and merit pay systems are evaluated. It has been suggested that justice can be violated by the formal system itself or by individuals using the system. However, previous definitions do not consider how these different sources are related to each other. In addition, previous justice research has mainly focused on the “receiver” point of view and has ignored the viewpoint of those responsible for unfair or fair actions. This dissertation sheds light on these research gaps by comparing employees and supervisors’ experiences of injustice in the performance appraisal process. The research questions are: 1) what kinds of procedural challenges do employees and supervisors identify with respect to the performance appraisal process in the merit pay context? What are the sources of these experiences? 2) How are procedural challenges identified by employees and supervisors related to the procedural and interactional justice rules defined in the literature? The data is based on semi-structured interviews with 48 employees and 24 supervisors collected from three government sector organizations. The method of the data analysis was a combination of an inductive grounded theory and more theory-driven approaches. Thus, in addition to theoretical contributions, this dissertation also makes a methodological contribution to the field by approaching the justice construct from a point of view rarely taken in previous studies. According to the results, experiences of injustice were related to three main categories: measurement of performance, the link between pay and performance, and the performance appraisal interview. Supervisors were more concerned about performance measurement challenges and employees were more concerned about the interactional issues in the performance appraisal interview.Results showed that both procedural and interactional justice rules can originate from both formal and informal sources. In addition, their interrelations created injustice experiences. Based on these results, the model of systemic justice is presented. It suggests that the perception of systemic justice is affected not only by the formal rules of the system itself, but in particular, through the relations that the system has with its context and individuals using the system. Practical implications suggest that more attention should be paid on fit between pay system and its context in order to promote perceived fairness of the system.
Translated title of the contributionReflections of Systemic Justice? - Employees' and Supervisors' Experiences of Injustice in the Performance Appraisal and Merit pay Context
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Vartiainen, Matti, Supervising Professor
  • Lipponen, Jukka, Thesis Advisor
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-60-5010-2
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-5011-9
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Keywords

  • justice
  • performance appraisal
  • merit pay
  • pay system
  • qualitatitve study

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