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Organizational powerlessness, dehumanization, and gendered effects of procedural justice

Chris M Bell (Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Careen Khoury (Social Psychology Department, York University, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 14 March 2016




The purpose of this paper is to test whether procedural justice effects on organizational powerlessness and dehumanization are stronger for women than men and, consequently, mediated effects on turnover intention are conditional upon gender.


The authors recruited to a two-wave survey of workplace attitudes with flyers distributed at downtown subway exits. The authors controlled for and tested alternative models for distributive and interpersonal justice.


Gender moderated procedural justice effects on both mediators. The moderated mediation model held only for organizational dehumanization, even controlling for powerlessness. Models for distributive and interpersonal justice were not significant.

Research limitations/implications

The authors used cross-sectional, self-report data but separated predictor and criterion variables in two surveys to counteract common method bias. Nevertheless, causal inferences are limited.

Practical implications

To retain personnel, managers, and organizations should be aware of the different needs of their employees and corresponding effects of justice. Likewise, women should be diligent in assessing justice and their response to being treated fairly.

Social implications

The model is not predicated on an innate quality of gender but on endemic inequities in society. Procedural justice is associated with basic human needs, and effects that are conditional on gender may be socially constructed rather than based in supposed inherent gender differences.


Research and lay theories have emphasized that women value procedural justice because of inherently stronger relational needs. The findings suggest gendered effects are due to broader social conditions affecting women’s instrumental and existential needs.



The authors would like to thank Maura Belliveau and the attendees of the Gender and Justice in the Workplace Symposium at the Schulich School of Business, York University, for their comments. This paper was part of the INBAM 2014 Conference.


Bell, C.M. and Khoury, C. (2016), "Organizational powerlessness, dehumanization, and gendered effects of procedural justice", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 570-585.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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