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Making just decisions: organizational justice, decision making, and leadership

Richard J. Eberlin (National University, San Diego, California, USA)
B. Charles Tatum (National University, San Diego, California, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to show that participants read vignettes in which managers were assigned different roles. The vignettes depicted managers with two leadership styles (transformational/transactional) and two decision‐making approaches (comprehensive/restrictive). The managers were then rated on patterns of organizational justice (social/ structural). Leadership and decision‐making styles affected different forms of justice.


Participants rated performance‐evaluation vignettes depicting leadership style, decision‐making approach, and organizational justice patterns on the part of hypothetical managers/leaders.


Managers portrayed as transformational leaders were rated high on social justice, whereas leaders rated as transactional were high on structural justice. Managers portrayed as restricted in their decision‐making approach were rated lower on social justice compared with managers who used a more comprehensive decision style. Justice ratings were significantly influenced by leadership style and decision

Practical implications

It is suggested that an increased awareness regarding organizational justice is imperative for all decision and leadership styles, and that social justice can occur in brief but powerful encounters that can be executed by any manager or leader.


If organizations, managers, and leaders attend to justice issues, they will foster healthier and more productive workplace environments that extend beyond immediate performance indicators (e.g. budget, quarterly profits, sales and revenue). A focus on organizational justice will create long‐term performance cultures (by fostering employee development, extending genuine regard for employee contributions and wellbeing, and leveraging employee commitment), and lead companies to sustainability.



Eberlin, R.J. and Tatum, B.C. (2008), "Making just decisions: organizational justice, decision making, and leadership", Management Decision, Vol. 46 No. 2, pp. 310-329.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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