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Encyclopedia of Management Theory

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Encyclopedia of Management Theory

Eric H. Kessler

Pub. date: 2013 | Online Pub. Date: May 08, 2013 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781452276090 | Print ISBN: 9781412997829 | Online ISBN: 9781452276090 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Fairness Theory

Robert Folger

Specifically, the theory posits that actions (and someone who has engaged in them, such as decision makers when they choose what to do) seem unfair when people feel that those actions would have been better if the relevant person could have and should have acted differently. This entry provides an introduction to the theory in terms of an illustration about a workplace interaction between a supervisor and her subordinate. Fairness theory analyzes why B might hold A accountable for unfair treatment. For example, suppose Alice, Ben's supervisor, publicly ridicules him. If Ben perceives this ridicule as the undesired result of an improper action over which Alice had control, he holds her accountable for unfairness (blaming her for mistreatment he didn't deserve). Fairness theory conceptualizes Ben's reactions in terms of counterfactual (contrary to fact) processing. Ben's actual situation seems unfair compared with a fair treatment counterfactual. (A worse counterfactual, on Something ...

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