Supervisor’s fair treatment and decision making in an organizational context – A social identity analysis

Satu Koivisto

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


During the last few decades, organizational justice research done within the framework of the rela­tional models of procedural justice has shown that leaders can influence important outcomes with their justice. The present research contributes to this line of research by exploring how dyna­mics of leader­ship affect the justice processes. Specifically, the present research integrates the group value model, the relational model of authority, and the group engagement model with the social identity model of organizational leadership (SIMOL). In addition, in line with multifoci justice research, it develops the relational justice models to consider the dynamic interplay between justice coming from the supervisor and the organization. The thesis consists of four essays. Each essay explores specific research questions. All essays rely on cross-sectional survey data from real-life organizations. In addition, essays III and IV are ba­sed on scenario experiments. The overarching theme in all the essays is the idea that an imme­diate supervisor’s fairness in interpersonal treatment and decision-making (informal justice) more power­­fully influences group members’ identity-related inferences and behavior when he or she represents the in-group, i.e., is in-group prototypical. The findings reveal that supervisor’s informal justice is related to (1) how proud group members are about their in-group, (2) how respected, (3) uncertain, or (4) threatened they feel themselves to be and, via feelings of respect, (5) how likely they are to voluntarily work for the benefit of the organi­za­tion. Importantly, all of these effects are shown to be contingent on leader in-group proto­ty­pi­ca­li­ty. Further, the research shows that the moderating effect of leader in-group prototypicality beco­mes particularly pronounced when the group members identify with the group that the leader repre­sents. It also shows that in-group prototypical supervisor’s justice interacts with organization-level pro­ce­dural justice to affect group members’ experiences of threat. The findings of the thesis contribute to organizational justice research first, by showing that the justice pro­ces­ses are contingent upon the factors that delineate leadership in groups (i.e., leader in-group proto­typicality). Second, they clarify and empirically demonstrate the assumptions of the group value mo­del and the relational model of authority. And third, the results broaden these models by also app­lying them to explain behavioral outcomes and consider concomitant effects of supervisory and orga­nizational justice. Fourth, the results confirm the assumptions of SIMOL. They show that leader in-group prototypicality plays a significant role in influencing followers’ perceptions in the in-group context.
Translated title of the contributionEsimiehen vuorovaikutuksen ja päätöksenteon oikeudenmukaisuus organisaatiokontekstissa – Sosiaalisen identiteetin analyysi
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Lipponen, Jukka, Supervising Professor
  • Lipponen, Jukka, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-5206-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-5207-6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • informal justice
  • supervisor's justice
  • organizational justice
  • leader in-group prototypicality
  • social identity


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