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Countering a masculinity contest culture at work: the moderating role of organizational justice

Angela Workman-Stark (Athabasca University, Athabasca, Canada)

International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior

ISSN: 1093-4537

Article publication date: 16 July 2020

Issue publication date: 5 March 2021




The purpose of this study is to test whether organizational justice (i.e. fair treatment) can mitigate the harmful effects of a “masculinity contest culture (MCC)” (i.e. norms, rituals and belief systems valorizing social dominance, work above other parts of life, physical strength and the avoidance of weakness).


Through an analysis of secondary survey data collected from a Canadian police organization (N = 488), this study tested the moderating effects of organizational justice on the relationship between employee perceptions of their workplace as a masculinity contest, and a negative outcome variable, harassment.


The results of this study suggest that a MCC was significantly related to harassment, which in turn contributed to lower psychological wellbeing and increased turnover intentions. Independently, organizational justice moderated the effect of a MCC on harassment, suggesting that harassment is less prevalent in the workplace when there is a greater focus on treating all employees fairly.


Despite the increase in both scholarly and practitioner interest in the effects of organizational cultures in which employees seek to maintain their own status at all costs, there has been little research examining the interactions of these harmful workplace cultures and the factors that might counter them. To the best of the author's knowledge, this is one of the rare studies to investigate possible interventions for harmful workplace cultures.



Workman-Stark, A. (2021), "Countering a masculinity contest culture at work: the moderating role of organizational justice", International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 6-23.



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