2012. Vol.3, No.12A, 1100-1103
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Procedural Justice and Innovation: Does Procedural Justice
Foster Innovative Behavior?
Bernhard Streicher1, Eva Jonas2, Günter W. Maier3, Dieter Frey1
1Department Psychology, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany
2Department Psychology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
3Department Psychology, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany
Received September 25th, 2012; revised October 21st, 2012; accepted November 22nd, 2012
The influence of procedural justice on intended innovative behavior was studied in a sample of students
and employees. Although earlier studies suggests that procedural justice increases innovation-related be-
havior such as spontaneous cooperation, so far systematic research is scarce. Results indicated that the
provision of voice increased participants’ intention to show innovative behavior such as task revision,
creativity, and persistence in a business simulation task. Furthermore, the effects found were mediated by
intrinsic motivation and identification, but not by occupational self-efficacy. These findings suggest that
justice in organizations and procedural fair conditions in particular can drive innovations.
Keywords: Procedural Justice; Innovation; Task Revision; Creativity; Persistence
In order to be successful, organizations depend heavily on
cooperative behavior of their members (Kozlowski & Ilgen,
2006). One important approach to ensure long term cooperative
and committed behavior, is to organize a positive environment
within an institution. One which fulfills the fundamental needs
of its members. In particular, people value just and fair treat-
ment. Fair treatment satisfies different human needs such as the
need to belong and the need to control (cf. Van den Bos, 2005).
Consequently, conditions of organizational justice and proce-
dural justice, in particular, have become important situational
variables in the psychological examination of both organiza-
tions and employees. Procedural justice focuses on the proc-
esses that lead to a decision outcome (Leventhal, 1980; Thibaut
& Walker, 1975), and provides the opportunity to voice one’s
opinion (e.g., Tyler, 2000). It has been found to influence dif-
ferent dimensions of work-related attitudes and behaviors such
as job performance, spontaneous cooperation, job satisfaction,
commitment, and organizational citizenship behavior (for over-
views, see: Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt, Conlon,
Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001; Greenberg & Colquitt, 2005).
In this article, we argue that conditions of procedural justice
further enhance a specific form of cooperative behavior, which
is crucial for all technical, economical, and social progress: the
ability to behave innovatively (Amabile, 1988). Although sev-
eral definitions of innovative behavior exist, the authors argue
that during a process of innovation employees can show three
aspects of individual innovative behavior. 1) Task revision:
Employees recognize deficits, revise their given task in order to
improve it, and feel competent about actually being able to
realize the proposed changes. To do so, it may be necessary to
voluntarily depart from daily routines and to follow up new
ideas (Katz & Kahn, 1978; Staw & Boettger, 1990); 2) Crea-
tivity: The development and expression of new, creative ideas
(cf Amabile, 1988); 3) Persistence: Persistently work on real-
izing and implementing the innovation without being discour-
aged by set backs suffered.
Despite the lack of systematic research on the effects of pro-
cedural justice on innovative behavior, some studies have indi-
cated a link between contiguous concepts of procedural justice
and innovation-related behavior (e.g., between dignity/respect
and cooperative behavior; Tan & Tan, 2000; Tyler & Blader,
2000), or showed a correlation between the two concepts (Gil-
son, 2001; Ramamoorthy, Flood, Slattery, & Sardessai, 2005;
Schepers & Van den Berg, 2007), or demonstrated combined
effects of justice and other constructs (outcome favorability and
deception) on creativity (Clark & James, 1999), or revealed a
decline of creativity after repeated unfair treatment (Streicher,
Jonas, Maier, Frey, & Spiebberger, 2012). Overall, in light of
previous studies, it is warranted to assume that procedural jus-
tice is associated with higher levels of innovative behavior and
vice versa.
In addition to demonstrating a link from conditions of pro-
cedural justice to intended innovative behavior, this study aims
to explore the mediating mechanisms. According to relational
models, the fairness of procedure serves as a source of self-
relevant information on one’s social status (Tyler, 1999). Fair
treatment indicates a high status, and consequently people iden-
tify with their group or the authority (Tyler, 2000; Tyler &
Degoey, 1995). Moreover, if people identify with a group, they
are intrinsically motivated to fulfill the group requirements
(Tyler, 1997) such as to behave innovatively. In addition, in-
trinsic motivation is known to be an important source of inno-
vation (Amabile, 1983, 1996). Regarding instrumental models
(e.g. Thibaut & Walker, 1975, 1978), people are motivated to
maximize favorable outcomes, which they can obtain by con-
trolling the relevant decisions. The fairness of procedure gov-
erns the amount of decision control on the outcomes. Decision
control is the belief that one is able to influence processes in a
preferred direction and corresponds with the concept of self-
efficacy (Bandura, 1977, 1997). In accordance with these no-
tions, research has found that individual innovative behavior
can be positively correlated with continuance commitment with
the organization (Zhou & George, 2001), intrinsic motivation
(Andrews & Smith, 1996; Bunce & West, 1995; Judge, Fryxell,
& Dooley, 1997; Shin & Zhou, 2003; Tierney, Farmer, &
Graen, 1999), and self-efficacy (Axtell et al., 2000; Frese, Teng,
& Wijnen, 1999; Tierney & Farmer, 2002).
In summary, we predict that procedural justice enhances in-
tended innovative behavior, in contrast to conditions of proce-
dural injustice, and that this effect is mediated by identification
with the group, intrinsic motivation, and occupational self-
Participants and Design
A total of 70 people participated in this study, of which 36
were students (27 female, 9 male) and 34 were employees (18
female, 16 male). Students were approached in the university
cafeteria, whereas employees were approached in suburban
trains. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two con-
ditions in a one-factorial (procedural justice: voice vs. no voice)
between-subjects design. The design was balanced, with 34
participants in the voice and 36 in the no-voice condition.
The experimenter approached the prospective participants
and asked whether they would be prepared to read a business
simulation case and to answer some question about it. If they
agreed, the experimenter handed them the experimental mate-
rial and a pen. No further instruction, cover story or reward was
given. The experimental material consisted of a business simu-
lation case followed by a questionnaire. The simulation, which
was derived from a real case, described the situation of an en-
gineer working on research and development in the steering
wheels section of a car manufacturer. After consultations with
his supervisor and beside his daily work he is free to develop
his own ideas. One day he comes up with a new idea for the
construction of a steering wheel for off-road vehicles. Accord-
ing to the company’s rules he has to find an internal customer
who will fund and approve his innovation. When he asks the
rally sports division for funding, he learns that the operating
devices section has had the same idea, and has already received
funding and established a project team. Because the company
does not want to support the same idea twice, he is asked to
join the existing project team. At the request of the rally sports
division he is invited to the next meeting. The manipulation of
the independent variable (voice vs no voice) was realized
through fair or unfair treatment by the project leader during the
project team meeting (e.g. “You [are/are not] given the oppor-
tunity to voice your ideas by the project leader”; e.g. Van den
Bos, Lind, Vermunt, & Wilke, 1997).
Participants were asked to image the case to be real, and to
answer the following questions (all ratings on a 5-point scale
from 1 = not at all to 5 = very much) based on the feelings and
reactions they would have if the situation were real. Potential
mediators were measured as follows: intrinsic motivation (3
items adapted from Rheinberg, 1989; e.g. “I’m motivated to
work as well as possible in the project team”; Cronbach’s alpha
α = .85), occupational self-efficacy (4 items adapted from
Schyns & von Collani, 2002; e.g. “I remain calm when facing
difficulties in the project team because I can rely on my abili-
ties”; α = .78), and identification (5 items borrowed from Mael
& Ashforth, 1992; e.g. “I’m proud to be a member of the pro-
ject team”; α = .95). Intended innovative behavior as the de-
pendent variable was measured by 12 items (α = .92) repre-
senting the different aspects of innovative behavior, namely
task revision (e.g. “I will reflect on how to further improve the
existing idea for a new steering wheel”), creativity (e.g. “In the
project team I will try to bring forward as many improvements
as possible”), and persistence (e.g. “Even if there is no pro-
gress in the project team for some time, I will keep at it”). In
accordance with Folger and Konovsky (1989) we used a mood
assessment as a check for manipulation (PANAS; Watson,
Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), which comprised 10 items both for
negative affects (α = .87) and for positive affects (α = .87).
Participants answered the PANAS concerning their feelings
about the project team (“How do you feel regarding the project
Gender and Employment
There was no effect of gender or status of employment (stu-
dents vs. employees) on the dependent variables, all ts < 1.72.
Manipulation Check
Between-subjects ANOVAs showed main effects for nega-
tive affects (NA), F(1, 68) = 11.59, p < .01, 2 = .15, and for
positive affects (PA), F(1, 68) = 21.63, p < .001, 2 = .24. Par-
ticipants who received voice had less negative affects (M = 1.89,
SD = 0.87) and more positive affects (M = 3.36, SD = 0.76)
than participants who had no voice (NA: M = 2.52, SD = 0.70;
PA: M = 2.53, SD = 0.74). These results indicate that we suc-
cessfully manipulated procedural fairness.
Innovative Behavior
As predicted, a t-test revealed a significant difference be-
tween voice (M = 3.67, SD = 0.69) and no voice (M = 3.11, SD
= 0.67), t(68) = 3.46, p < .01, d = 0.69, for intended innovative
behavior. This result provides evidence supporting the hy-
pothesis that procedural just treatment enhances innovative
behavior compared to unfairness.
Mediators: Identification, Intrinsic Motivation,
Occupation al S el f-E f fi c acy
In accordance with Baron and Kenny (1986) we checked first,
(a) whether procedural fairness significantly accounted for the
presumed mediators and the dependent variable. Separate re-
gressions revealed that the procedural justice manipulation was
predictive of inferences of identification, = .63, t(68) = 6.64,
p < .001, as well as of intrinsic motivation, = .51, t(68) = 4.92,
p < .001, occupational self-efficacy, = .34, t(68) = 2.97, p
< .01, and intended innovative behavior, = .39, t(68) = 3.46, p
< .01. Next (b) we controlled whether the potential mediators
significantly accounted for the dependent variable. When ex-
amined simultaneously identification, = .73, t(68) = 8.87, p
< .001, as well as intrinsic motivation, = .71, t(68) = 8.39, p
< .001, and occupational self-efficacy, = .47, t(68) = 4.42, p
< .001, were predictive of inferences of intended innovative
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 1101
behavior. Last (c) we tested whether the relation between the
independent and the dependent variable is reduced to non-sig-
nificance when controlled by the mediators. When procedural
justice, identification, intrinsic motivation, and occupational
self-efficacy were examined simultaneously as predictors of
intended innovative behavior the effects of both procedural
justice, = .11, t(65) = 1.10, p > .27, and occupational self-
efficacy, = .08, t(65) = 0.70, p > .48, were reduced to non-
significance whereas the effects of both identification, = .48,
t(65) = 2.24, p < .05, and intrinsic motivation, = .40, t(65) =
2.69, p < .01, remained significant. The results provide evi-
dence that the procedural justice effect on intended innovative
behavior was mediated by identification and intrinsic motive-
tion, but not by occupational self-efficacy. Furthermore, to test
whether both identification and intrinsic motivation carry the
influence of procedural justice to intended innovative behavior
we conducted Sobel tests (Sobel, 1982). The results confirmed
the mediation and showed that the indirect effects of procedural
justice on intended innovative behavior via identification, z =
5.00, p < .001, as well as via intrinsic motivation, z = 4.04, p
< .001, were significantly different from zero.
As predicted, conditions of procedural justice resulted in
more intended innovative behavior than procedural unjust con-
ditions. This result supports the notion that a positive, appreci-
ating, and participating organizational practice fosters coopera-
tive, voluntary, and constructive employee behavior. Further-
more, the findings provide evidence for relational model’s line
of reasoning concerning the nature of the mediation of proce-
dural justice effects. Whereas intrinsic motivation and identifi-
cation are both potent mediators, occupational self-efficacy is
not. The underlying reason could be (a) that procedural just
treatment, as self-relevant information, increases identification
with the group and/or supervisor as well as intrinsic motivation
to meet group and/or organizational goals such as innovative
behavior. This argument provides support for relational models
of procedural justice but not for instrumental models. Our result
that self-efficacy did not serve as a mediator is in accordance
with earlier research which also found no or only a partial me-
diating effect of process control (Earley & Lind, 1987; Lind,
Kanfer, & Earley, 1990; Shapiro & Brett, 1993). However, an-
other reason (b) for our findings might stem from the more
general belief in personal competence: Occupational self-effi-
cacy may be a more stable trait, which is unlikely to be influ-
enced by a single scenario. On the other hand, this explanation
seems improbable considering that Lind and colleagues (1990)
have found participants’ belief in having decision control to be
affected by conditions of procedural justice, even when partici-
pants only received voice after the decision and were told that
their opinion would not influence the decision.
The findings in this study are subject to at least three limita-
tions. First, one weakness is that suggested treatment within a
business simulation might be of lower personal importance to
participants than real treatment by a supervisor at the workplace
would be. Therefore, so far the external validity of our findings
is not warranted. Second, the results are reactions of individuals,
but in organizational practice innovative behavior occurs within
a social context (cf. Amabile, Conti, Coon, Lazenby, & Herron,
1996). Therefore, future investigations on this topic should
consider additional context variables such as organizational
climate or quality of leader-member-relation. Third, cognitive
and motivational variables were measured as potential media-
tors, but research suggests that experiences of justice provoke
positive emotions such as pride while injustice comes along
with negative emotions like anger, disappointment, fear, or
sadness (e.g., Weiss, Suckow, & Cropanzano, 1999). In order
to fully understand the nature of the mediating mechanisms it is
recommended to conduct longitudinal field studies, which
cover the full process of an innovation, and include a broad
selection of emotional, motivational, and cognitive mediators.
Overall, besides the practical importance of innovations, our
findings demonstrate the wide range of positive justice effects
on peoples’ attitudes and behavior. People are sensitive to ex-
periences of fairness and unfairness, and adjust their behavior
to their experiences accordingly. Therefore, in order to increase
both the wellbeing of their members and innovativeness as a
crucial factor in global competition organizations should be
alert to maintain procedural just condition. A positive institu-
tion in this sense can be reached by implementing fair proce-
dures and decision-making processes, and by training leaders in
justice principles.
The German Research Foundation (DFG) financed part of
this work (project number FR 472/24-1), but had no involve-
ment in the conduct of this research.
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