Procedural justice and Employees’ Commitment to Supervisor in Nigerian Health Sector

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International Journal of Management Science and Business Administration
Volume 2, Issue 12, November 2016, Pages 28-36


Procedural justice and Employees’ Commitment to Supervisor in Nigerian Health Sector

DOI: 10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.212.1003
URL: dx.doi.org/10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.212.1003

Ajogwu Akoh, Edwinah Amah

Department of Management, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria

Abstract: In this research, we investigated the relationship between procedural justice and employees’ commitment to supervisor in Rivers State of Nigeria. A survey questionnaire was sent out to a sample size of 103 employees, resulting in 99 responses out of which 13 copies of the questionnaire were not statistically usable. The Spearman rank correlation coefficient was used for data analysis. This study found a significantly positive relationship between procedural justice and employees’ commitment to supervisor. We found that employees tend to easily identify with supervisors that implement fair procedures than those that do not and employees do study or evaluate their organizations’ justice climate to identify procedural injustice by comparing policies of different organizations. We concluded that fairness of procedures could reinforce a healthy justice climate and employees’ commitment to supervisor in turn. The justices of outcome and interaction depend mainly on the justice of procedures, as unjust procedures may not turn out a just outcome. We, therefore, recommended that organizations should commission enquiries into the justice climate of the industries they operate, ascertain the best practice, beat such a practice or at least align procedures, policies and programmes with the principles of fairness.

Keywords: Procedural justice, Employees’ commitment to supervisor, Identification with supervisor, Internalization of supervisor’s values

Procedural justice and Employees’ Commitment to Supervisor in Nigerian Health Sector

1. Introduction

A large number of studies focused on the effects of organizational justice, including the impact of specific justice types and how the different types work together to influence employee attitudes and behavior. While the studies concentrated on different areas of justice, they all highlighted the favorable effects of justice and unfavorable effects of injustice in the workplace. Justice or fairness is desired and required by virtually every living being, including human beings, dogs, goats, and a host of other lower animals. However, even among animals, there is the presence of unfair competition or treatment! That is why two goats can be involved in combat. The concern of this study is not the existence or non-existence of fair procedures among lower animals. It is to establish the nature of influence procedural justice exerts on employees’ commitment to supervisor in Nigerian health sector. In particular, this study was conducted in selected private and secondary hospitals in the Rivers State of Nigeria.

Lerner, (2003) in Akoh and Amah, (2015) discovered that justice impacts employees’ effectiveness since the perception of fairness leads to a strong interpersonal relationship. We submitted in our earlier study that, the service quality of a hospital is not achievable with employees’ dissatisfaction. According to Wong and Sohal, (2003), the quality of any service is perceived by customers as the disposition of employees in the form of behaviors. When employees are committed to their supervisors, they will be willing to commit to their organization. This network of commitments has been proven to positively impact organizational performance.

Many scholars agree that there are three components of the justice construct, which we will discuss hereafter. However, Cropanzano, Bowen and Gilliland, (2007) recommended that each of the components of the justice construct should be studied or considered individually and that the study of organizational justice should be componentized, with each component studied in detail (p. 36).

Procedural justice is the way outcomes are distributed and/or administered. It is the process or procedure undertaken in administering distributive and interactional justice. In procedural justice, the principles that underlie fairness are carefully implemented. According to Cropanzano et al. (2007), “fair process effect” as used by researchers refers to the use of procedures that are fair in order to ameliorate the negative effects of unfavorable outcomes. This suggests the important role procedural justice plays among the justice components. Researchers like Cropanzano et al., (2007); Tyler and Blader, (2000) among others, believe that the fairness of procedure enhances the justice climate of the organization. The fairness of procedures has been proposed to be the most important consideration, when employees draw conclusions about overall organizational fairness. Hence, we hold to the belief that procedural justice can help not only to enhance employees’ perceived organizational justice climate, but improve corporate reputation and overall organizational commitment. It is generally thought that the willingness of the employees to accept organizational policies and decisions depends on the use of just procedures in arriving at those policies and decisions.

This study is designed with the main purpose of verifying how procedural justice impacts employees’ commitment to supervisor. Additionally, the study is set out to specifically investigate the following relationships:

This study is designed with the main purpose of verifying how procedural justice impacts employees’ commitment to supervisor. Additionally, the study is set out to specifically investigate the following relationships:

  1. The correlation between procedural justice and identification with supervisor.
  2. The correlation between procedural justice and internalization of supervisor’s values.

Drawing from the foregoing research purpose(s), the main focus research question was generated – what is the correlation between procedural justice and employees’ commitment to supervisor? More specifically, the study is set to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the correlation between procedural justice and identification with supervisor?
  2. What is the correlation between procedural justice and internalization of supervisor’s values?

The following research hypotheses were, in turn, put forward for testing.

  1. Procedural justice is not significantly related to identification with supervisor.
  2. Procedural justice is not significantly related to internalization of supervisor’s values.

A number of limitations were encountered in the course of the research. The selected hospitals for investigation were not fully receptive to the study. Hospitals were unwilling to surrender sensitive organizational information, in order to avoid the likelihood of becoming competitively vulnerable. Researchers’ identities were subjected to serious scrutiny at the Rivers State Ministry of Health, where the selected hospitals information was originally sourced. There was a need for researchers to submit ethical approval and even demonstrate research procedure for scrutiny. All these processes were not free from organizational bureaucracy in the Nigerian public institutions. The study was only conducted in the Nigerian health sector, particularly in Rivers State and excluding the public hospitals, as well as primary and tertiary hospitals. Only employees who had supervisors were chosen as the unit of analysis.

2. Review of related literature

2.1 Procedural justice

Setting the ball rolling for researches in the area of organizational justice was Adams (1963) equity theory. The work of Adams received immense researchers’ acceptation, except faulted on the grounds of failure to propose the full working of the concept of organizational justice in the workplace. Scholars’ major criticism of equity theory was in the area of its inability to address actual decisions (outcomes) together with processes (procedures). The limitation of the distributive justice concept made theorists to begin to propose procedural justice – the perceived fairness of the organizational policies and processes for decision making.

Procedural justice deals with fair processes for making decisions. Folger and Cropanzano (1998) stated that procedural justice refers to “fairness issues concerning the methods, mechanisms, and processes employed to determine outcomes.” Employees do not only show concern about the fairness of the outcomes they get, but also the justice of the procedures that produce those outcomes. According to Tsai (2012), the justice of procedures was developed from the study conducted by Thibaut and Walker, (1975). The researchers studied the responses to the procedure for resolution of disputes of a legal system. Thibaut and Walker (1975) in Tsai (2012) found that those involved in disputes tend to accept judgments that are given based on the processes they were allowed to enact or contribute to its enactment. This finding falls in line with other studies conducted by Tyler and Folger, (1980); Tyler, Rasinski and McGraw, (1985).

Cropanzano et al., (2007) proposed procedural justice as essential for maintaining institutional legitimacy. The researchers advocated that, although previous research found that when outcomes are favorable, people will be satisfied with the given decisions (Tyler and Blader, 2000); procedural justice affects employees’ perception of the goodwill or reputation of the organization as a whole. When the organization’s procedures are perceived to be fair, the employees of the organization will be better committed and willing to carry out their responsibilities in their organization and its managers’ best interest.

2.2 Justice climate in the organization

The justice perception of a person can be shaped by someone else like a colleague. Studies have shown that a justice climate can be formed when a group of people interact and make statements about what they perceive to be just. This climate can influence the view of the individuals that constitute the group (Li and Cropanzano, 2009). According to Roberson and Colquitt, (2005), people working together in a group may tell other members of the group what they feel about the atmosphere of justice in their organization. This results in a common assumption about justice in the workplace. It has been found that employees ‘learn’ from group members the basis for evaluating justice in the organization. This shared perception can lead to uniformity of justice perception within a team, leading to a strong justice climate or atmosphere. In essence, the perception of justice by an individual can be conceptualized as precedent to the perception of justice in a group, which in turn reinforces the organizational justice climate.

2.3 Componential analysis of organizational justice

According to Folger and Cropanzano, (1998), organizational justice involves social practices and emerging principles in decision making, which involves the distribution of outcomes like jobs roles, products, punishment, remuneration, positions and other outcomes. It deals with what employees perceive as just treatment received from the organizational authorities (Moorman, 1991). Masterson, Lewis, Goldman and Taylor (2000) among other authors have divided the justice construct into three aspects: distributive justice, procedural justice and interactional justice.

Researchers have offered that, distributive justice tends to be the main pursuit when employees engage in individual activities, while procedural justice is the major concern within groups or team workers. Choi, (2008) explained the justice climate as the extent of existence of and adherence to fair processes in an organization, and the way employees see their organization and/or managers as just, not deceitful, and have a principle governing what they do. In a healthy organizational justice climate, elements of the three justice components (distributive, procedural and interactional) should be found. The table below shows the aspects of organizational justice, as proposed by Cropanzano et al., (2007).

Table 1: Components of organizational justice

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-18-31-49Source: Cropanzano et al., (2007:36)

In line with the work of Cropanzano et al., (2007), Greenberg, (1990) also suggested three dimensions (distributive, procedural and interactional justice) to organizational justice construct. Greenberg’s, (1990) conceptualization was represented diagrammatically as shown in the figure below.

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-18-36-38

Figure 1: Components of organizational justice

Source: Greenberg (1990)

2.4 Employees’ commitment to supervisor

Employees’ commitment to supervisor is a more recent construct than procedural justice. Chen, Tsui and Farh, (2002); Gregersen (1993) and Becker, Billings, Eveleth and Gilbert, (1996) in their studies about employees’ commitment to supervisor, offered two dimensions to the construct: identification with supervisor and internalization of supervisor’s values. Gregersen (1993) found that “commitment to supervisors was significantly associated with extra role behavioral disposition of respondents, whose stay in the organization was more than 2 (two) years (p. 42-43).

Becker et al. (1996) tried to know the nature of association that subsists between performance and employees’ commitment, “as a multidimensional phenomenon” (p. 465). The study probed into the concept of varieties of foci with reference to the commitment of employees in an organization. The study also investigated the motivations that inform such a commitment to given targets. In line with the work of Kelman (1958), Becker et al. (1996) divided the bases into three types: compliance, identification, and internalization (Sokoll, 2014, p. 93). The study discovered that the commitment of employees to supervisor had a stronger link to performance compared to the commitment of the employees to the organization as a whole.

In another study, Chen et al. (2002) explored the importance of commitment to supervisor and the impact it had on work outcomes in the relationship-oriented Chinese culture. Because of the peculiarity of the Chinese society, which is characterized by close interpersonal relationships, commitment to another person like the supervisor could be more important and mean something different. Chen et al. (2002) concluded that “loyalty to supervisor seems to be more important than organizational commitment in predicting employee’s in-role and extra-role performance” (p. 352). The researchers further proposed that the stronger impact that loyalty to supervisor has on employees’ outcomes is a phenomenon that could cut across cultural boundaries. Hence they suggested that research should be conducted in different cultural contexts, both within and outside China.

2.5 Identification with supervisor

Identification occurs according to Gregersen (1993) and Becker et al. (1996) when a subordinate looks up to certain attributes of his supervisor with admiration. The subordinate becomes excited, having relationships with such a supervisor and becomes committed to the given supervisor. “The subordinate, however, may or may not adopt the supervisor’s attributes as his or her own” (O’Reilly and Chatman, 1986, p. 493 in Chen et al. 2002, p. 340). The subordinate shows a proud disposition for being associated with the given supervisor. It involves the subordinate’s attribution of the supervisor’s characteristics to himself or herself.

2.6 Internalization of supervisor’s values

According to Becker et al. (1996); Gregersen (1993); Chen et al. (2002), employees internalize the supervisor’s values when they learn and adopt the supervisor’s way of life, because the supervisor’s way of life aligns with the subordinates’ values. Internalization occurs when the employee incorporates or interiorizes the supervisor’s values. This implies that the subordinate’s values are similar to those of his/her supervisor. This, the researchers referred to as a state of value congruence between the supervisor and the subordinate.

2.7 The extended dimensions of commitment to supervisor

Chen et al. (2002) postulated that employee-supervisor loyalty might go beyond identification and internalization in a highly relationship-inclined context because of social norms. Employees may become attached to a supervisor as a result of: “Closeness, ethnic affiliations, religious affiliations, the frequency of communication, the need to reciprocate an act of kindness or because of an obligation bound to be rendered to an authority figure” (Chen et al., 2002, p. 341). Based on the foregoing postulations and review of earlier studies, the researchers expanded the conceptualization of commitment to supervisor to include “the attachment and dedication of employees to the supervisor.” Chen et al. (2002, p. 342). According to Chen et al. (2002, p.345-347), the foregoing proposition gave rise to five major dimensions to capture the construct of commitment to supervisor:

Identification with supervisor: This occurs when the subordinate holds the supervisor’s accomplishment in high esteem and has a proud disposition for being associated with or subordinated to the given supervisor.
Internalization of the supervisor’s values: This is the state of existence characterized with the congruity of values between the subordinate and the supervisor. The subordinate sees the supervisor’s value system as appropriate and shares similar philosophies of life with the given supervisor.
Dedication to supervisor: This involves the readiness of an employee to be given to and/or pledge allegiance to the supervisor. The employee primarily subordinates his personal interests to those of the supervisor.
Extra effort for supervisor: subordinate’s willingness to exert more than the required energies to satisfy the interests of the supervisor.
Attachment to supervisor: This deals with the willingness of the employee to connect with the supervisor.

Nwibere and Olu-Daniels (2014) adopted the Chen et al. (2002) five dimensions in their own work. They labeled the first two dimensions as original dimensions and the last three as extended dimensions. The branding as extended dimensions was based on extractions from Chen et al. (2002) scale which is an extension of Becker et al’s (1996) two-dimensional scale or measure of the construct. This position was originally taken by Chen et al. (2002) and later mentioned in the work of Nwibere and Olu-Daniels (2014).

3. Methodology

A survey questionnaire was administered and used to collect data from target respondents. With the aid of observation, we studied the justice climate as demonstrated by side comments, observable work attitudes, mode of response to patients and other observed gesture statements of employees. Data were collected from six hospitals registered with the state Ministry of Health. All six hospitals were private hospitals, with a total population of 138 (one hundred and thirty-eight) employees. Using the Taro Yemeni procedure for determining sample size, 103 (one hundred and three) copies of the questionnaire were distributed to employees constituting a mix of nurses, doctors and administrative staffs, provided the individual has a supervisor. Copies of the questionnaire returned were 99 (ninety-nine). Of the copies returned, only 86 (eighty-six) were statistically usable.

Procedural justice was measured using Colquitt, (2001) items, while the earlier study of Becker et al. (1996) originated the measures of Commitment to Supervisor adopted for this study. These are: Identification with supervisor and Internalization of supervisor’s values. These items were referred to as the original dimensions of commitment to supervisor in the work of Chen et al. (2002) and were adjusted to suit the purpose of this study and the Nigerian environment. Respondents were asked to indicate the degree to which they agree with the justice atmosphere and commitment to supervisor items, on a Likert Scale of 1 to 7. A score of 1 represents strongly disagree, whereas 7 represents strongly agree. Using the spearman’s rank correlation coefficient, data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20.

3.1 Validity and reliability

The research instrument for this study was adapted from the work of experts. Procedural justice items were adapted from Colquit (2001) and commitment to supervisor items was based on the earlier work of Becker et al. (1996). The research instrument was subjected to validity test, by giving same to experts who verified the correctness and appropriateness of the questions adopted. The research instruments were originally tested for reliability, using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient test. The items included in the scale were adapted after a critical review of related literatures to procedural justice and commitment to supervisor. The Cronbach’s alpha for the variables includes: Procedural justice (0.913); identification with supervisor (0.71) and internalization of supervisor’s values (0.70).

3.2 Measures

This study used Colquitt‘s (2001) measures of procedural justice. These items assessed the extent of fair interactions reflected in the experiences of correspondents; measured on a 7-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 7=strongly agree). Seven items measured the perception of procedural justice and include: (a) The procedures allow me to express my opinions and feelings (b) I have had influence on the outcomes produced by the procedures (c) The procedures have been used consistently (d) The procedures are not bias (e) Appropriate information have been supplied by the procedures (f) I have been able to give my objections to the outcomes the procedures produce (g) The procedures reflect high ethical and moral standards. When tested for scale reliability by Colquitt (2001) in McCardle (2007), the procedural justice items returned an alpha value of 0.913.

The measures of Commitment to Supervisor used for this work were adopted from Becker et al. (1996). These are: Identification with supervisor and Internalization of supervisor’s values. These sample items were referred to as the original dimensions of commitment to supervisor in the work of Chen et al. (2002). It was required of respondents to indicate the extent of their agreement or disagreement with the given items, using a Likert Scale of 1 to 7. A score of 1 for strongly disagree, whereas 7 is strongly agree. Becker et al. (1996) observed 2 (two) measures of commitment to supervisor: Identification with supervisor incorporated the following 5 items: (i) I feel personally insulted when someone criticizes my supervisor (ii) When talking about my supervisor, I will say “we” not “they” (iii) When my supervisor is successful, I am also successful (iv) I take my supervisor’s compliments as my personal compliments (v) I feel a sense of mutual ownership between me and my supervisor. The internalization of supervisor’s values included 4 items: (i) I would not have attached myself to my supervisor if he/she had entirely different interests. (ii) I am attached to my supervisor, because of the similarity of our values (iii) My values began to align with that of my supervisor since I started this job (iv) I prefer my supervisor, because of his values.

4. Results and interpretation

4.1 Procedural justice and identification with supervisor (hypothesis one)

H1: Procedural justice is not significantly related to identification with supervisor.

Table 2: Test of hypothesis one

Correlations

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-18-45-12**. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

Since the rho-value is 0.616, it means there is a positive correlation characterized with a strong relationship. Hence, the null hypothesis was rejected; which when interpreted means: procedural justice is significantly related to identification with supervisor.

4.2 Procedural justice and internalization of supervisor’s values (hypothesis two)

H2: Procedural justice is not significantly related to Internalization of Supervisor’s Values

Table 3: Test of hypothesis one

Correlations

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-18-49-08**. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

Since the rho is 0.540, it means there is an average positive correlation. Hence, the null hypothesis is rejected; which when interpreted means: procedural justice is significantly (but averagely) related to internalization of supervisor’s values.

5. Results and interpretation

H1: Procedural justice is not significantly related to identification with supervisor.
The Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient was used to analyze the relationship between procedural justice and identification with supervisor. The analysis produced a result 0.616 rho value, with the significance level of 0.05 (two-tailed). This shows a strong positive correlation between the variables. Hence, the employees of the selected hospitals had close association with the supervisor and were satisfied to be subordinates to their supervisors, as a result of the fairness of work procedures or organizational policies. On the contrary, when policies are adjudged unfair, the employees will be detached and psychologically divorced from their supervisors.

H2: Procedural justice is not significantly related to internalization of Supervisor’s Values
Data analysis resulted in the correlation value of 0.540, using a level of significance of 0.05 (two-tailed). This shows a reduced strength of the positive correlation between procedural justice and internalization of supervisor’s value, as opposed to the first hypothesis. However, the significant positive correlation indicates that employees’ values will be in congruence with their supervisors’ values, when work processes, procedures and policies in the organization are fair. Hence, the null hypothesis is rejected and alternate hypothesis accepted, concluding that, there is a significant relationship between procedural justice and internalization of supervisor’s values. It is worth reiterating, that when procedural justice was correlated to identification with supervisors in hypothesis 1 (one), it returned the rho value of 0.616. Contrariwise, when same procedural justice was correlated with the internalization of supervisor’s values, it returned rho of 0.540. This suggests that employees find it a little easier to identify with their supervisors than internalize the values of their supervisors. This finding is in line with our earlier submissions – Akoh and Amah, (2015), which studied distributive justice and employees’ commitment to supervisors.

4. Conclusion

According to Cropanzano et al. (2007), “fair process effect” as used by researchers, refers to the use of just procedures to mitigate the ill effects of unfavorable outcomes. Researchers like Cropanzano et al., (2007); Tyler and Blader, (2000) among others, believe that procedural justice enhances the justice climate of the organization. Hence, we affirm that procedural justice is the most relevant of the justice components in reflecting the way employees draw conclusions on the fairness of practices at the organizational level and it is the most difficult justice type to implement, as employees may differ with reference to the appropriateness of given procedures. We hold to the belief that procedural justice can help not only to enhance employees’ perceived organizational justice climate, but improve corporate reputation and in turn employees’ commitment to supervisor.

The justice of outcomes depends mainly on the justice of procedures, as unjust procedures may not turn out a just outcome. Organizational reputation or goodwill hinges to a large extent on procedural justice. It is, therefore, a worthwhile pursuit to implement policies and programmes devoid of any bias. Employees do not want to feel cheated; therefore, an employee’s perceptions of unjust treatment cannot be overlooked or dismissed by organizations and their supervisors. We therefore note that every justice atmosphere, especially with reference to procedures, is visible to all employees and when employees continue to gossip about the organization’s unjust policies, the goodwill of the organization deplete over time, resulting in financial losses in the form of amortization, reduction in productivity, labour turnover, employees dissatisfaction and even loss of customers. Therefore, the lifespan of the organization can be affected positively or negatively, depending on the fairness of the procedures, policies, programmes and processes of that organization. Procedural justice, therefore, is the best of the three justice components appropriate for building organizational reputation, as it can also impact positively on the justices of outcomes and interactions.

Studies have demonstrated the benefits of procedural justice in enhancing the organizational performance. In the present study, procedural justice was solely demonstrated and confirmed as capable of enhancing employees’ commitment to supervisor. This is an addition to knowledge, as no known study has investigated this relationship, especially in the Nigerian health sector. By implication, organizations must pursue procedural justice in order to ensure that employees do not move to organizations with better procedures.

4. Recommendations

We recommend that organizations should commission enquiries into the justice climate of the industries they operate, ascertain the best practice, beat such a practice or at least align procedures, policies and programmes with the principles of fairness. Although the negative effect of one justice component can be ameliorated by the presence of another, it will be irresponsible of an organization to anchor on one justice component to perpetrate injustice. Organizations should watch and pray so as not to fall into the temptation of taking advantage of the fair process effect. However, when employees’ judgments are unnecessarily subjective, the organization should not give up the ghost. Rather, proper communication and innovative solutions can unclog employees’ minds. This study’s findings set the ball rolling for related future studies. Some of these possible areas for future researches are mentioned hereunder.

First, it is recommended that moderating variables be introduced in future studies in order to determine the effect of other variables such as employee age, tenure of employee with supervisor and unemployment effect (e.g., fear of dismissal).

Second, studies in the future can also be done using the longitudinal research design, so as to study the spread of employment conditions. This will help to avoid the single point measurement approach undertaken by this study.

Third, this work studied employees of private organizations and may have more frequent supervisor interactions, leading to closer identification with supervisors. HR management systems in the public institutions may differ; hence, closer relationship with the supervisor may have little or no attention. Hence, studies in the future should examine the relevance of these findings to public institutions.

Again, the study of justice in the Nigerian environment should be taking to HR practices such as planning, recruitment, selection, retention and so forth.

Lastly, similar studies might be carried out to further research both the dependent and independent variables of this study in other sectors of the economy and even different geographical locations.

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