A Systematic Review On The Relationship Between Organizational Justice And Turnover Intention

Abstract

Organizational justice is specified to anticipate employees’ reasons to leave a company. This paper targets to review articles which discuss the relationship between organizational justice and employees’ reasons for leaving a company. An electronic search of eight databases was performed to identify studies published from January 1995 to December 2016. A total of 46 articles were included for discussion in the review. Only two longitudinal studies were included, while the remaining 44 is based on cross-sectional study design. The studies showed that four dimensions of organizational justice (distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational) are negatively correlated with turnover intention. Among these four dimensions, more attention has been given to procedural justice and its relationship with turnover intention. Overall, the review suggests that an increase in perceptions of organizational justice results in a decreased employees’ turnover intention. There is strong evidence for the idea that procedural justice is the most studied variable in relation to turnover intention. However, there is still a lack of empirical studies which scrutinize the other three dimensions of organizational justice (distributive, interpersonal, and informational). Therefore, there is a need for more studies to determine the relationship of these three variables and the employees’ intention to quit.

Keywords: Organizational justiceturnover intentionsystematic review

Introduction

Turnover intention exists when a person is thinking of leaving his or her current organization. Tett and Meyer (1993, p. 262) defines turnover intention as “the last in a sequence of withdrawal cognitions, a set to which thinking of quitting and intent to search for alternative employment also belongs”. Turnover intention represents the extent to which a person wishes to leave his or her current organization and it can be regarded as a predictor for actual turnover (Ma & Trigo, 2008).

Employees’ actual turnover may bring negative impacts to employers such as high costs in replacing the position left vacant (Flint, Haley, & McNally, 2013). As high costs are associated with the loss of employees, this would eventually affect the organizations’ bottom line. Given the negative impacts associated with losing employees, some emphasis should be made on the factors that might influence employees' intention to leave. Such effort would minimize the adverse effects of actual turnover and provide insights on how to reduce employees’ turnover intention.

Problem Statement

Employees’ turnover intention is identified to be anticipated by the factor of organizational justice. According to Greenberg (1987), organizational justice is defined as a person’s perceptions of fairness at his or her workplace. Justice or fairness has become an increasingly evident construct within the social sciences (Colquitt, 2001) which has attracted scholars over the millennia (Colquitt, Greenberg, & Zapata-Phelan, 2005). Organizational justice exists when employees perceive fairness about the results (distributive justice), the organizational procedures (procedural justice), the interpersonal treatment from managers (interpersonal justice), or fairness about the information given by the organizational authorities (informational justice).

Building on the work of Adams (1965) regarding equity, distributive justice reflects employees’ concern about the fairness of resources allocated within the organization, such as salary, promotions, recognitions, and other rewards. Procedural justice reflects the employees’ perceptions of the fairness on the process used to decide the distribution of rewards (Leventhal, 1980). Later, the discussion focuses on interactional justice which refers to employees’ perceptions of the fairness on the interpersonal side of organizational practices (Bies & Moag, 1986). Interactional justice can be categorized into two distinct forms of justice, namely interpersonal justice and informational justice (Greenberg, 1993). Interpersonal justice reflects the politeness, sensitivity, and respect that individuals receive from their managers during procedures, whereas informational justice reflects the information, justification or thorough explanation provided by decision makers regarding the reason behind any decision that was made (Greenberg, 2013). As such, instead of a three-factor structure (distributive, procedural, and interactional justice), a new outlook of organizational justice as a four-factor structure (distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice) has been suggested (Greenberg, 1993). The four-factor structure of organizational justice is supported by past empirical research.

Research Questions

The correlation between the four-factor structure of organizational justice and turnover intention has been widely researched, therefore, the research question of this paper, is to investigate whether organizational justice (either as unidimensional or by dimensions) contributes in explaining employees’ turnover intention.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this paper is to systematically review articles which report the relationship between organizational justice and turnover intention published between 1995 to 2016.

Research Methods

Inclusion criteria

Studies were considered for this systematic review if they met the following criteria: a) they were published in English; b) the country or geographical setting was mentioned; c) it is either a cross-sectional or longitudinal design; d) the relationship between organizational justice and turnover intention was measured; and e) the correlation value ( r or β ) was reported. In instances where data sets were duplicated or overlapped, only the most recent publication was included in this review. Study participants were not limited to any category and studies conducted in all organizational sectors were included.

Search strategy

The literature search included publications from January 1995 to December 2016 and were limited to English language journal articles. Articles were located using eight electronic databases such as Ebscohost, Emerald, Jstor, Proquest, Sage, Scopus, Web of Science, and Wiley. The following keywords were used in searching the articles: organizational justice, organizational fairness, distributive justice, procedural justice, interactional justice, interpersonal justice, informational justice, turnover intention, intention to leave, intention to quit, and intention to withdraw.

Data collection and analysis

All identified articles found in the databases were screened independently for eligibility by two review authors (NR, NM). The first author (NR) independently performed searches for the electronic databases. Articles were evaluated based on the inclusion criteria to assist authors. Full texts were retrieved and assessed for applicability to the review objectives once articles met the inclusion criteria, or even when the title or abstract were potentially qualified for inclusion. The following information were recorded: the first author’s last name, year of publication, country where the study was conducted, study setting, sample size, design of study, and the results of the correlation between organizational justice and turnover intention. For articles that did not meet the inclusion criteria, the articles were deleted based on the following the exclusion criteria: not published between 1995 to 2016; not published in English; full texts were not retrieved; geographical setting was not mentioned; duplicate publication of the same study or data; and the correlation value ( r or β ) on the relationship between organizational justice and turnover intention were not derivable from reported data. Any disagreement that emerged during the screening process were resolved through discussion to reach a consensus. The articles selected by the authors were revised and cross-checked to ensure no discrepancies between the two authors.

Findings

Results of the search

A flow diagram of the literature search is presented in Figure 1 . Initially, a total of 7,148 articles were identified through the database search; 330 in Ebscohost, 644 in Emerald, 375 in Jstor, 2,655 in Proquest, 430 in Sage, 312 in Scopus, 215 in Web of Science, and 2,187 in Wiley. After removing 6,359 duplicates, a list of 789 articles remained. After the removal of the duplicates, two review authors (NR, NM) independently screened keywords, titles, and abstracts. 55 titles and abstracts appeared to be potentially suitable of which the full texts were obtained. Upon screening of the full-text articles, a total of 46 relevant articles that fulfilled the inclusion criteria were selected for further review.

Figure 1: Literature search process for identification of studies
Literature search process for identification of studies
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Included studies

Table 1 summarized all 46 selected articles discussing on the relationship between organizational justice and turnover intention which were published from 1995 to 2016. The table lists the studies, countries, study settings, sample sizes, study design, and results of studies reviewed. Of the 46 studies, there are only two follow-up studies (longitudinal study), while the remaining 44 studies are based on cross-sectional study design. The selected studies examined organizational justice as either unidimensional or multi-dimensional variables: distributive justice, procedural justice, interactional justice, interpersonal justice, and informational justice.

Table 1 -
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Location and setting

It was discovered that studies were conducted in various parts of the world such as in United States (Ahuja, Chudoba, Kacmar, McKnight, & George, 2007; Buttner, Lowe, & Billings‐Harris, 2010; Byrne, 2005; Campbell, Perry, Jr, Allen, & Griffeth, 2013; Cantor, Macdonald, & Crum, 2011; Cole, Bernerth, Walter, & Holt, 2010; Coniglio, 2013; Soltis, Agneessens, Sasovova, & Labianca, 2013), China (Lin, 2015; Loi, Hang-Yue, & Foley, 2006; Ma, Liu, & Liu, 2014; Ngo, Loi, Foley, Zheng, & Zhang, 2013; Wang, Hackett, Cui, & Zhang, 2012), Korea (Campbell, Im, & Jeong, 2014; Kim, Solomon, & Jang, 2012; Lee, Kim, & Kim, 2016; Son, Kim, & Kim, 2014), Canada (Chawla & Kelloway, 2004; Flint et al., 2013; Paré & Tremblay, 2007; Tremblay, 2010), Pakistan (Bakri & Ali, 2015; Khan, Abbas, Gul, & Raja, 2015; Shahzad, 2016), India (Aryee, Budhwar, & Chen, 2002; Biswas, 2015; Chalil & Prasad, 2014), Malaysia (Ansari, Hung, & Aafaqi, 2007; Ponnu & Chuah, 2010; Poon, 2012), Netherlands (de Jong & Schalk, 2010; Proost, Verboon, & Ruysseveldt, 2015), Iran (Arshadi & Shahbazi, 2013; Davoudi & Fartash, 2013), Singapore (Aryee & Chay, 2001; Ho, 2012), Spain (Silla, Gracia, Mañas, & Peiró, 2010), Indonesia (Zagladi, Hadiwidjojo, & Rahayu, 2015), United Arab Emirates (UAE) (Al Afari & Elanain, 2014), Israel (Meisler, 2013), Australia (Jepsen & Rodwell, 2012), Belgium (Bernhard-Oettel, De Cuyper, Schreurs, & De Witte, 2011), New Zealand (Haar & Spell, 2009), Dubai (Elanain, 2009), and Norway (Kuvaas, 2008). In addition, there was one study conducted in various countries (Israel, United Kingdom, and Hungary) (More & Tzafrir, 2009).

The studies were focused on higher education industry (Khan et al., 2015; Poon, 2012; Son et al., 2014; Zagladi et al., 2015), financial industry (Bakri & Ali, 2015; Kuvaas, 2008; Meisler, 2013), healthcare industry (Al Afari & Elanain, 2014; Byrne, 2005; Lee et al., 2016), manufacturing industry (Bernhard-Oettel et al., 2011; Soltis et al., 2013), transportation industry (Cantor et al., 2011; Ma et al., 2014), information technology (IT) industry (Ahuja et al., 2007; Paré & Tremblay, 2007), call center industry (Flint et al., 2013), pharmaceutical industry (More & Tzafrir, 2009), military industry (Tremblay, 2010), and a legal industry (Loi et al., 2006). The remaining studies were conducted in various organizations in different industries.

Participants

All participants were employees working either in the public or private sectors.

Relationship between organizational justice (unidimensional) and turnover intention

There are eleven studies that examined organizational justice as a unidimensional variable. The results reported that organizational justice is negatively correlated with turnover intention among Korean hospital nurses (r = -.357) (Lee et al., 2016), Netherlands employees (r = -.34) (Proost et al., 2015), Indonesia private college lecturers (β = -.24) (Zagladi et al., 2015), Pakistan private sector bankers (r = -.494) (Bakri & Ali, 2015), Israeli employees (r = -.47) (Meisler, 2013), Iranian employees (r = -.61) (Davoudi & Fartash, 2013), front-line social workers in Korea (r = -.418) (Kim et al., 2012), Belgians (r = -.49) (Bernhard-Oettel et al., 2011), Spanish public sector employees (r = -.30) (Silla et al., 2010), Canadian armed forces personnel (r = -.21) (Tremblay, 2010), and Dutch temporary workers (r = -.31) (de Jong & Schalk, 2010).

The coefficient value ( r ) ranged between -.21 and -.61, indicating a weak to moderate negative correlation between the unidimensional organizational justice and employees’ reason to leave an organization.

Relationship between distributive and procedural justice and turnover intention

Eight studies examined the relationship between distributive and procedural justice and turnover intention. The studies were conducted among Pakistani sales and marketing managers (r = -.555 and -.634) (Shahzad, 2016), Pakistani private university employees (r = -.17 and -.11) (Khan et al., 2015), Indian practising managers (r = -.28 and -.36) (Biswas, 2015), Malaysian white-collar employees (r = -.44 and -.20) (Poon, 2012), commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in the United States (β = -.196 and -.423) (Cantor et al., 2011), Malaysian employees in various organizations across multiple industries (r = -.641 and -.612) (Ponnu & Chuah, 2010), Chinese practicing solicitors (r = -.36 and -.40) (Loi et al., 2006), and Singaporean members of a public sector union (r = -.21 and -.30) (Aryee & Chay, 2001).

The coefficient value ( r ) for distributive justice ranged between -.17 and -.64, whereas for procedural justice the coefficient ranged between -.11 and -.63, indicating a weak to moderate negative correlation between distributive and procedural justice and employees’ turnover intention.

Relationship between distributive, procedural, and interactional justice and turnover intention

Four studies investigated the relationship between distributive, procedural and interactional justice and turnover intention. The studies conducted involved hospital employees in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (r = -.42, -.40, and -.37) (Al Afari & Elanain, 2014), social workers in the United States (r = -.19,

-.22, and -.21) (Campbell et al., 2013), Singaporean employees from a variety of organizations (r = -.51,

-.38, and -.37) (Ho, 2012), and Indian supervisor-subordinate dyads of a public-sector organization

(r = -.45, -.31 and -.43) (Aryee et al., 2002).

Of the four studies, two studies found that distributive justice is the strongest predictor of turnover intention, followed by procedural justice and finally interactional justice (Al Afari & Elanain, 2014; Ho, 2012).

Relationship between distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice and turnover intention

Only three studies investigated organizational justice by examining the relationship between all four components of organizational justice and turnover intention. The studies also reported a negative relationship between distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice and turnover intention. The studies conducted involved Australian employees of a local government council (r ranged between -.11 and -.46) (Jepsen & Rodwell, 2012), military personnel and civil servants in the United States (r ranged between -.13 to -.19) (Cole et al., 2010), and employees from pharmaceutical companies in Israel, United Kingdom, and Hungary (r ranged between -.30 and -.39) (More & Tzafrir, 2009).

Among the four justice dimensions, it was found that interpersonal justice relates more to turnover intention among military personnel and civil servants (Cole et al., 2010). In another study, it was shown that informational justice has a stronger correlation with turnover intention among employees in the pharmaceutical industry (More & Tzafrir, 2009).

Conclusion

The present systematic review sums up the studies which discuss the relationship between organizational justice and turnover intention. Results of these studies indicate that organizational justice contributes in explaining employees’ reason for leaving an organization. This means that as the employees’ perception of organizational justice increased, their intention to leave the organization declined, and vice versa. Among the selected studies, the findings showed that procedural justice has received more attention on its relationship with turnover intention. In contrast, little is understood about the exclusive effects of each of the four dimensions of organizational justice in determining turnover intention among employees. As interactional justice combines both interpersonal and informational dimensions, past findings have left some uncertainty on the influence of interpersonal and informational justice on employees’ turnover intention.

It has been argued that organizational justice is best investigated as four distinct dimensions (distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational) because each dimension has different levels of influence on employees’ behavioral outcome (Colquitt, 2001). Despite the suggestion to focus on each dimension separately, this review paper found that currently, not many studies have simultaneously examined the relationship between these four justice dimensions and turnover intention. As such, it shows that there is still much to be learned about the four distinct dimensions of organizational justice. This effort would alert employers on the importance of fairness at the workplace that may induce positive feelings among the staff to remain loyal with the company. Therefore, there is a need for further studies to simultaneously examine the relationship of these four dimensions of justice and intention to quit in a single study.

This systematic review of 46 studies showed that there is vast evidence that procedural justice is the most studied variable in relation to turnover intention. Hence, there is a lack of studies which examine the other three dimensions of organizational justice (distributive, interpersonal, and informational). Therefore, this paper is intended to serve as both a call and roadmap for future research to focus more on this area. Such effort would offer deeper insight in understanding the distinct effects of four dimensions of justice, in anticipating employees’ turnover intention.

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Rusbadrol, N., & Mahmud, N. (2019). A Systematic Review On The Relationship Between Organizational Justice And Turnover Intention. In & M. Imran Qureshi (Ed.), Technology & Society: A Multidisciplinary Pathway for Sustainable Development, vol 40. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 58-71). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.05.6