Journal of Applied Psychology
2007, Vol. 92, No. 6, 1597–1609
Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association
0021-9010/07/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.92.6.1597
Justice as a Dependent Variable: Subordinate Charisma as a Predictor of
Interpersonal and Informational Justice Perceptions
Brent A. Scott
Jason A. Colquitt and Cindy P. Zapata-Phelan
Michigan State University
University of Florida
Research in the organizational justice literature has shown that interpersonal and informational justice are
significant predictors of subordinate attitudes and behaviors. However, scholars have neglected to
explore whether certain subordinate characteristics might be associated with managers’ adherence to
interpersonal and informational justice rules. The current authors’ study tested a model, inspired by
approach–avoidance perspectives (e.g., Gray, 1990), in which manager ratings of subordinate charisma
influenced subordinate ratings of interpersonal and informational justice through the mechanisms of
positive and negative sentiments (i.e., emotions felt by the manager toward the subordinate). A field
study of 181 employees of a large national insurance company revealed partial support for this model.
Structural equation modeling revealed that subordinate charisma was related to interpersonal justice
perceptions, a relationship that was fully mediated by positive and negative sentiments. However,
subordinate charisma was not associated with informational justice perceptions. These findings signal the
potential utility in examining subordinate-based predictors of justice variables.
Keywords: justice, affect, emotions, charisma
Bies’s (2005) distinction between “exchanges” and “encounters.”
According to Bies (2005), procedural and distributive justice are
somewhat bounded in resource exchange contexts that may be
relatively infrequent. In contrast, interpersonal and informational
justice can be judged in virtually any encounter between managers
and subordinates, regardless of whether resource allocation decisions are being made. This argument complements Folger’s (2001)
suggestion that those justice forms are more within a manager’s
discretion, providing managers with frequent opportunities to adhere to (or violate) those justice rules. Taken together, these
arguments suggest that interpersonal and informational justice
have “day-in day-out” significance that the other justice dimensions may not possess.
Although scholars have gained an understanding of how interpersonal treatment is gauged and why it is so predictive of attitudes
and behaviors, a critical gap remains unfilled in the literature.
Specifically, do certain subordinate characteristics make it more or
less likely that managers will adhere to the respect, propriety,
justification, and truthfulness rules that compose interpersonal and
informational justice? By and large, this question has remained
unexamined because, as Korsgaard, Roberson, and Rymph (1998)
observed, “To date, the justice literature has largely taken a onesided view of the dynamics of social exchange relationships, such
as manager-subordinate dyads, by focusing on the manager’s role
and neglecting the impact of the subordinate’s behavior on fair
exchanges” (p. 741).
This “one-sided view” is depicted graphically in Figure 1. Most
studies in the justice literature view interpersonal and informational justice (and procedural and distributive justice) as exogenous variables that influence subordinate fairness perceptions and
subordinate attitudinal and behavioral reactions. Much less attention is devoted to exploring why managers might adhere to justice
rules in the first place, including whether subordinate characteristics might influence that tendency (see Colquitt & Greenberg,
When subordinates talk about issues of justice or fairness, their
accounts often deal with the interpersonal treatment they receive
from their managers (Bies, 2001). In introducing the concept of
interactional justice, Bies and Moag (1986) described four rules
that have come to define fair interpersonal treatment on the part of
managers: (a) respect—subordinates should be treated with sincerity and dignity, (b) propriety—managers should refrain from improper or prejudicial statements, (c) justification—managers
should provide adequate explanations for decision making, and (d)
truthfulness—those explanations should be honest, open, and candid. Current taxonomies of organizational justice group the respect
and propriety rules under the interpersonal justice heading, with
the justification and truthfulness rules defining informational justice (Bies, 2005; Colquitt, 2001; Colquitt & Shaw, 2005; Greenberg, 1993).
Research on organizational justice has shown that the interpersonal and informational components of interactional justice are
strong predictors of subordinates’ attitudes and behaviors (CohenCharash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, &
Ng, 2001). Indeed, sometimes those effects are stronger than the
effects for procedural and distributive justice (Ambrose &
Schminke, 2003; Aquino, Lewis, & Bradfield, 1999; Williams,
Pitre, & Zainuba, 2002), which capture the fairness of decisionmaking processes and outcomes, respectively (Adams, 1965; Leventhal, 1976, 1980; Thibaut & Walker, 1975). The importance of
interpersonal and informational justice can be explained with
Brent A. Scott, Department of Management, Michigan State University;
Jason A. Colquitt and Cindy P. Zapata-Phelan, Department of Management, University of Florida.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Brent A.
Scott, Department of Management, N475 North Business Complex, East
Lansing, MI 48824. E-mail: [email protected]
Subordinate Perceptions
of Justice Rule
Attitudinal and
Figure 1. Framework characterizing existing research on organizational justice.
2003, for more discussion of this gap). From a theoretical standpoint, examining factors that influence justice rule adherence can
provide a new direction for building models of fair treatment. An
endogenous examination of justice rule adherence also may suggest that subordinates are not passive recipients of justice; rather,
some subordinates may be more adept at shaping the way in which
they are treated by their managers. From a practical standpoint,
identifying factors that influence justice rule adherence could have
a profound impact by helping to stop injustice before it starts.
To date, the only study that has attempted to fill this gap was
Korsgaard et al.’s (1998) investigation of the effects of subordinate
assertive behaviors on managers’ informational justice. Assertive
subordinates state their opinions in a straightforward manner, use
posture and eye contact to display their confidence in those opinions, and ask follow-up questions to clarify their managers’ stance
on decision events. Korsgaard et al. (1998) reasoned that those
behaviors would promote more extensive justifications on the part
of managers. That prediction was tested in two studies, one in the
laboratory and one in the field. The laboratory study supported the
linkage between subordinate assertiveness and informational justice. The field study, however, failed to support the linkage, though
assertiveness was associated with higher levels of satisfaction and
trust on the part of subordinates. Given these findings, it seems a
worthy endeavor to identify other subordinate characteristics that
could impact justice perceptions.
Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to identify a subordinate characteristic that could predict managers’ adherence to the
rules of interpersonal and informational justice. A central premise
that guided our choice of subordinate characteristic was that the
day-in day-out discretionary nature of interpersonal and informa-
tional justice could make adherence to those justice rules particularly sensitive to the affect that managers feel toward subordinates.
Scholars in the affect literature have argued that many behaviors
are governed by two primary motivational systems (Depue &
Collins, 1999; Elliot & Thrash, 2002; Fowles, 1987; Gray, 1990).
The approach system, which also is referred to as the behavioral
activation system (BAS, e.g., Fowles, 1987) or the behavioral
facilitation system (e.g., Depue & Collins, 1999), directs individuals toward experiences and stimuli that may yield pleasure and
reward. In contrast, the avoidance system, which typically is referred to as the behavioral inhibition system (BIS, e.g., Fowles,
1987; Gray, 1990) directs individuals away from experiences and
stimuli that they appraise as potentially noxious, threatening, or
As described more fully in the sections to follow, we propose
that these approach and avoidance responses will prompt managers
to adhere to interpersonal and informational justice rules more
frequently when they feel more positively (and less negatively)
toward subordinates. The critical question then becomes the following: What subordinate characteristics should promote more
positive affect and less negative affect on the part of managers?
One potential answer is charisma, as charismatic individuals have
a personal magnetism that pulls others toward them through the
arousal of positive feelings and emotions (Bass, 1985). Charismatic individuals are seen by others as “the ideal,” a view that
affords such individuals an extraordinary level of influence over
the behavior of others (House & Baetz, 1979; Weber, 1947;
Yorges, Weiss, & Strickland, 1999).
Accordingly, we propose that subordinate charisma is associated
with managers’ adherence to interpersonal and informational jus-
tice rules. We further propose that these relationships will be
mediated by the affect felt by the manager toward the subordinate.
According to Gray’s (1990) model, positive environmental signals
(e.g., signals of reward) initiate the BAS and elicit corresponding
positive emotions, which in turn motivate approach behavior. In
contrast, negative environmental signals (e.g., signals of nonreward) initiate the BIS and elicit corresponding negative emotions,
which in turn motivate avoidance behavior. Thus, the approach–
avoidance perspective provides an integrative structure to our
choice of variables. Specifically, a subordinate’s level of charisma
serves as an environmental cue that triggers affect and activates the
approach–avoidance system, which in turn influences adherence to
interpersonal and informational justice.
Subordinate Charisma
The German sociologist Max Weber (1947) first discussed the
relevance of charisma to leadership and organizations, defining it
as a special gift possessed by few that results in extraordinary
capability to influence. However, it was not until House’s (1977)
publication of his theory of charismatic leadership that charisma
became a popular topic of study in organizational behavior.
Around this same time, Burns (1978) introduced the concept of
transformational leadership, a process whereby leaders create
strong connections with followers and influence them to transcend
their self-interests to focus more on the long-term, intrinsic goals
of the group. Charisma and transformational leadership were integrated when Bass (1985; see also Bass & Avolio, 1993) broke
transformational leadership down into four dimensions: charisma
(or idealized influence), inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Though not completely
overlapping, as Judge and Piccolo (2004) noted, “it is clear that
transformational leadership and charismatic leadership theories
have much in common, and in important ways, each literature has
contributed to the other” (p. 755).
Since the publication of House’s (1977) theory, the concept of
charisma has received significant attention in the leadership literature (e.g., Conger & Kanungo, 1998; Gardner & Avolio, 1998;
House, Spangler, & Woycke, 1991; Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1996;
Shamir, House, & Arthur, 1993; Shamir, Zakay, Breinin, & Popper, 1998). Importantly, researchers have suggested that charisma
need not be limited to those in managerial positions. Bass (1990)
argued that charismatic individuals “may be in high- or low-status
positions” (p. 185), and Conger (1989) asserted that charisma “is
not some magical ability limited to a handful” (p. 161). Such
statements fit well with the notion that charisma is both a personal
characteristic and a constellation of behaviors (Bass, 1985, 1990;
Conger & Kanungo, 1998) and with meta-analytic findings that
individuals residing at lower levels of the organization are just as
(if not more) likely to be considered charismatic than are those at
higher levels (Judge & Piccolo, 2004; Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996).
Our study extends the concept of charisma to the organization’s
lower levels by examining managers’ perceptions of subordinate
charisma. Given that charisma is an attribution made by others
(Conger & Kanungo, 1998) and is “in the eye of the beholder”
(Bass, 1990, p. 193), it seems reasonable to expect that managers
may perceive subordinates along a continuum of charisma—with
some viewed as more charismatic than others. Although we ac-
knowledge that some aspects of the construct, such as bringing
about radical organizational change during times of crises, are not
likely to be a part of charisma at the subordinate level, other
aspects, such as being perceived by others as exceptional and
ethical, displaying high levels of self-confidence, and emphasizing
collective goals, may just as likely occur with subordinates as with
managers. Indeed, as Lowe et al. (1996) noted, individuals at lower
levels in the organization may have more opportunities to influence others via displays of charisma because such individuals
interact with others more frequently.
Subordinate Charisma and Managerial Sentiments
According to Bass and Avolio’s (1993) conceptualization, the
role of charisma is to enable the charismatic individual to impact
the behavior of others through the formation of emotional bonds.
Friedman, Prince, Riggio, and DiMatteo (1980) suggested that
charisma is manifested in nonverbal emotional expressions such as
displays of enthusiasm. Friedman, Riggio, and Casella (1988)
supported this notion in a sample of undergraduate students, demonstrating that individuals who were rated as more charismatic
were more emotionally expressive and consequently were able to
enhance positive emotions in others and to reduce negative emotions. Although the role of feelings and emotions experienced
toward the charismatic individual is an important component of
theories of charismatic leadership (e.g., Bass & Avolio, 1993;
Conger & Kanungo, 1998; Gardner & Avolio, 1998; House, 1977;
Wasielewski, 1985), few studies have measured such feelings
If charismatic subordinates indeed are more emotionally expressive, how might this expressiveness affect others who interact with
them? According to emotional contagion perspectives, individuals
“catch” the emotions of others during encounters (Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1994). Emotional contagion begins when the
actor displays emotion in a blend of nonverbal displays such as
facial expressions and body posture, in addition to verbal displays
such as inflection of voice. Individuals interacting with the actor
(i.e., target) subconsciously and automatically mimic those emotional displays, including the actor’s facial expressions (Dimberg,
1982; Lundqvist & Dimberg, 1995). The targets then receive
internal feedback from their own mimicry, leading them to feel the
same emotion that the actor is displaying (Tourangeau & Ellsworth, 1979). Given that people high in expressiveness tend to be
especially adept at transferring their emotions to others (Sullins,
1989), this process should be stronger for charismatic actors (Cherulnik, Donley, Wiewel, & Miller, 2001; Friedman et al., 1980).
Several studies have supported this emotional contagion hypothesis. For example, Pugh (2001) examined emotional contagion in
a sample of bank tellers, finding that employees who were more
emotionally expressive displayed positive emotions more frequently, which in turn led to increased positive affect in customers
with whom they interacted. Barsade (2002), using a sample of
undergraduates, found that group members’ emotions converged
with a confederate trained to display either positive or negative
emotions. More closely related to the current study, Cherulnik et
al. (2001) reported that observers of undergraduate students trained
to exhibit charismatic behaviors imitated those behaviors. In a
second study, Cherulnik et al. (2001) found that undergraduates
who watched televised presidential speeches converged emotion-
ally with each president’s displayed affect. Thus, existing evidence
suggests that individuals do indeed “catch” the emotions of others.
Although an emotional contagion perspective suggests that
managers interacting with charismatic subordinates should experience positive emotions more frequently and negative emotions
less frequently, such effects should be relatively short lived because emotions tend to be ephemeral in nature (Ekman & Davidson, 1994; Watson, 2000). Over time, however, those discrete
emotional reactions should develop into particular sentiments felt
toward the charismatic subordinate. Frijda (1994) defined sentiments as tendencies to respond affectively to particular persons or
objects, referring to them as “likes” or “dislikes.” Similarly, Kelly
and Barsade (2001) said sentiments are “valenced appraisals of an
object and involve evaluation of whether something is liked or
disliked” (p. 105). Sentiments are “distinctly social” (Stets, 2003,
p. 309) and usually are organized around another person (Gordon,
1981). Sentiments and emotions are closely related; sentiments
may arise from previous emotional encounters; and they are the
bases for corresponding emotions during interactions with the
person toward whom the sentiment is felt (Frijda, 1994). The
primary difference lies in the duration of each: Emotions are more
transitory, whereas sentiments are more stable.
Drawing from Watson’s (2000) hierarchical structure of affect,
we conceptualized positive sentiments as the elicitation of two
particular positive emotions in managers during anticipated or
actual interactions with subordinates: joviality and self-assurance.
Joviality refers to feelings of happiness and enthusiasm, whereas
self-assurance refers to feelings of pride and confidence (Watson
& Clark, 1994). We chose these emotions because both represent
positive affect (e.g., Watson & Tellegen, 1999) and because they
tend to be highly correlated with each other (Watson, 2000). In
addition, both emotions have inherent action tendencies relevant to
justice rule adherence. Specifically, joviality and self-assurance
motivate prosocial behaviors such as friendliness, sociability, and
sharing of information (Isen, 1987; Lazarus, 1991).
We conceptualized negative sentiments as the elicitation of two
particular negative emotions in managers during anticipated or
actual interactions with the subordinate: hostility and fear. Hostility refers to feelings of anger and disgust, whereas fear refers to
feelings of nervousness and dread (Watson & Clark, 1994). Both
emotions represent negative affect (e.g., Watson & Tellegen,
1999), and they also tend to be highly correlated with each other
(Watson, 2000). In addition, both emotions have inherent action
tendencies relevant to justice rule violation. Specifically, hostility
and fear motivate antisocial behaviors, with hostility stimulating
aggressive behavior and fear stimulating distancing and avoidance
(Averill, 1983; Lazarus, 1991). Though the action tendencies of
hostility and fear are somewhat different, Lazarus (1991) suggested that the two emotions are “interdependent sides of the same
adaptational coin” in that both help individuals overcome situations appraised as threatening (p. 225).
Managerial Sentiments and Adherence to Justice Rules
If charismatic subordinates increase positive sentiments and
decrease negative sentiments in others, how might those sentiments affect managerial justice rule adherence? The approach–
avoidance models of behavior described in the opening of our
article provide one potential answer (Depue & Collins, 1999; Elliot
& Thrash, 2002; Fowles, 1987; Gray, 1990). According to these
models, positive and negative feelings motivate behavior by activating the behavioral activation system (BAS) and the behavioral
inhibition system (BIS), respectively. Activation of the BAS is
associated with approach behavior, whereas activation of the BIS
is associated with avoidance behavior. To the extent that interactions with charismatic subordinates generate positive feelings and
suppress negative feelings in managers, managers should be motivated to approach and interact with charismatic subordinates
more frequently than noncharismatic subordinates. That managers should be drawn to charismatic subordinates fits well with
lay conceptualizations of charisma based on personal magnetism (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000) as well as with
approach–avoidance perspectives of motivation (e.g., Gray,
As noted at the outset, interpersonal justice is promoted when
managers adhere to two particular justice rules: respect and propriety (Bies & Moag, 1986; Colquitt, 2001; Greenberg, 1993). If
managers are motivated to approach subordinates toward whom
they feel positively, managers will have more opportunities to
interact with those subordinates in a respectful and courteous
manner, and the positive sentiments accompanying managers’
approach motivations should facilitate adherence to interpersonal
justice. On this point, research has shown that positive affective
states are associated with more helpful, friendly, empathic, and
sociable behaviors and fewer aggressive behaviors (George, 1991;
Isen, 1987; Nezlek, Feist, Wilson, & Plesko, 2001). These tendencies suggest that positive sentiments will enhance respectful treatment and decrease improper treatment. In contrast, research has
demonstrated that negative affect can inhibit adherence to norms
of politeness (Tedeschi & Felson, 1994). It therefore follows that
managers who feel negative sentiments toward subordinates will
be more likely to violate the respect and propriety rules.
Informational justice is promoted when managers adhere to two
particular justice rules: justification and truthfulness (Bies &
Moag, 1986; Colquitt, 2001; Greenberg, 1993). To the extent that
managers are motivated to approach subordinates toward whom
they hold positive sentiments, managers should gain more opportunities to share information. The positive sentiments accompanying managers’ approach motivations also should facilitate adherence to informational justice. This notion fits well with research on
interpersonal attraction, which has demonstrated that individuals
share more information with those to whom they are attracted (e.g.,
Collins & Miller, 1994). Likewise, research on psychological
distancing has revealed that individuals attempt to avoid individuals who trigger negative emotions (Hess, 2000). Individuals can
distance themselves from others in a variety of ways, including
avoiding involvement, ignoring others, and engaging in deception
(Goffman, 1961; Hess, 2000). Avoiding involvement and ignoring
others likely would violate the justification rule of informational
justice, whereas engaging in deception likely would violate the
truthfulness rule of informational justice. Indeed, Folger and Skarlicki (2001) noted that distancing is a common explanation for the
managerial tendency to withhold explanations when they should
be offered. Thus, the avoidance response triggered by negative
sentiments should create a distancing tendency which should prevent managers from fulfilling standards of informational justice.
In sum, we propose that, through the process of emotional
contagion (Hatfield et al., 1994), managers will feel more positive
sentiments and fewer negative sentiments toward charismatic subordinates compared with less charismatic subordinates. In turn,
those sentiments should be associated with increased adherence to
interpersonal and informational justice rules by activating approach versus avoidance motivational systems (e.g., Elliot &
Thrash, 2002). Thus, positive and negative sentiments should
mediate the relationships between subordinate charisma and interpersonal and informational justice perceptions. We therefore predicted the following:
Hypothesis 1: Subordinate charisma is positively related to
interpersonal and informational justice perceptions.
Hypothesis 2: The relationships between subordinate charisma and interpersonal and informational justice perceptions
are mediated by positive and negative sentiments.
Participants were 181 administrative employees of a large, national insurance company located in the Southeast. The average
tenure in the participants’ current position was 2.14 years (SD !
3.07), and they had worked for the organization for an average of
6.33 years (SD ! 7.07). Of the 181 participants, 125 (69%) were
women, and 56 (31%) were men. The average age of the sample
was 34.77 years (SD ! 11.29). Ethnicities were as follows: White
(n ! 112), African American (n ! 39), Hispanic (n ! 10), Asian
Pacific Islander (n ! 6), Native American (n ! 6), and other
ethnicities (n ! 8).
A human resources representative helped to recruit participants
for the study. The contact person at the company advertised the
study to employees via a brief e-mail composed by the authors.
The e-mail described the study as an examination of job attitudes
and instructed those who were interested in participating to come
to a designated area outside of the employee lunchroom between
the hours of 11:30 am and 1:00 pm on a specified date. The e-mail
also stated that each participant’s immediate supervisor would be
asked to complete a different survey. Finally, the e-mail told
participants they would receive $20 for taking part in the study.
One of the study’s authors distributed questionnaires with the
assistance of the contact person. Subordinates completed a survey
that assessed their perceptions of their managers’ adherence to
interpersonal, informational, procedural, and distributive justice
rules. Although no hypotheses were devoted to procedural and
distributive justice because these justice dimensions are more
exchange based than encounter based (Bies, 2005), we felt it was
important to include all four dimensions. Justice scholars have
emphasized the need to assess all justice dimensions, even when
the focus is only on a subset, so that the results can be as
informative as possible (Bies, 2005; Colquitt et al., 2001; Colquitt
& Greenberg, 2003). Managers were then given a separate survey
to complete that assessed their perceptions of the subordinate’s
charisma and the positive and negative sentiments they felt when
interacting with the subordinate.
We chose to use manager reports to assess subordinate charisma
because the leadership literature emphasizes that charisma is an
attribution made by others (Bass, 1990; Conger & Kanungo,
1998). Thus, a subordinate’s self-reported charisma might not
capture the concept in a construct-valid manner. We chose to use
subordinate reports to assess managers’ adherence to justice rules
for two reasons. First, this strategy allowed us to remove samesource bias from the tests of our primary hypotheses. Second, this
strategy matches the typical operationalization in the justice literature, in which subordinate perceptions are used to conceptualize
the justice dimensions (Colquitt, 2001; Colquitt & Shaw, 2005;
Moorman, 1991). To match each subordinate’s survey with his or
her corresponding manager’s survey, we numbered both surveys
and the postage-paid envelopes in which they were returned. In all,
we obtained completed, matched data for 132 manager–
subordinate dyads, for an overall response rate of 72.9%.
Organizational justice. We measured subordinates’ perceptions of their managers’ adherence to interpersonal, informational,
procedural, and distributive justice rules with the scales developed
and validated by Colquitt (2001). Subordinates indicated the extent
to which they agreed with each statement by using a 5-point scale
ranging from 1 (to a very small extent) to 5 (to a very large extent).
For interpersonal justice, subordinates were referred to the interpersonal treatment received from their managers. The items assessed adherence to Bies and Moag’s (1986) respect and propriety
rules (see also Greenberg, 1993). Sample items from the four-item
scale included “Does your supervisor treat you in a polite manner?” “Does your supervisor treat you with dignity?” and “Does
your supervisor refrain from improper remarks or comments?” The
coefficient alpha for this scale was .93. For informational justice,
subordinates were referred to the explanations given by managers
for decision events. The items assessed adherence to Bies and
Moag’s (1986) justification and truthfulness rules (see also Greenberg, 1993). Sample items for the five-item scale included “Is your
supervisor candid in communications with you?” “Does your
supervisor explain decision procedures thoroughly?” and “Does
your supervisor communicate details in a timely manner?” The
coefficient alpha for this scale was .91.
For procedural justice, subordinates were referred to the procedures their managers use to make decisions about pay evaluations,
promotions, rewards, and so on. The items assessed adherence to
Leventhal’s (1980) and Thibaut and Walker’s (1975) justice rules.
Sample items from the seven-item scale included “Are those
procedures applied consistently?” “Are those procedures free of
bias?” and “Are you able to express your views and feelings during
those procedures?” The coefficient alpha for this scale was .85. For
distributive justice, subordinates were referred to the outcomes
they receive from their jobs, such as pay, evaluations, promotions,
rewards, and so on. The items assessed adherence to an equity rule
for allocating outcomes as opposed to an equality or need rule
(Adams, 1965; Leventhal, 1976). Sample items from the four-item
scale included “Do those outcomes reflect the effort you have put
into your work?” “Are those outcomes justified, given your per-
formance?” and “Do those outcomes reflect what you have contributed to your work?” The coefficient alpha for this scale was
Charisma. We measured managers’ perceptions of subordinate charisma by using the Charisma (or Idealized Influence) scale
from the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Avolio & Bass,
2004). This scale assesses attributes and behaviors on the part of a
focal person that can create a sense of admiration and respect. All
items used a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5
(strongly agree). The seven items assessed the extent to which
subordinates emphasized their values, made ethical decisions, and
possessed a sense of confidence and purpose. We omitted one item
from the scale that assessed the extent to which subordinates instill
pride in the manager, given the conceptual overlap between that
item and our positive sentiments measure. The coefficient alpha
for this scale was .88.
Positive and negative sentiments. We measured managers’
positive sentiments felt toward subordinates by using a four-item
scale that tapped two of the positive emotions included in the
Positive and Negative Affect Schedule—Expanded form (PANAS–X; Watson & Clark, 1994): joviality and self-assurance.
Sample items included “Being around this employee makes me
feel happy” and “This employee often makes me feel proud.” The
coefficient alpha for positive sentiments was .83. We measured
managers’ negative sentiments felt toward subordinates by using a
four-item scale that tapped two of the negative emotions included
in the PANAS–X (Watson & Clark, 1994): hostility and fear.
Sample items included “This employee often makes me feel angry” and “At times, this employee makes me feel nervous.” The
coefficient alpha for negative sentiments was .70.
In testing our hypotheses, we controlled for demographic similarity given that past research has shown that individuals feel
more positive sentiments toward others who share their demographic profile (Tsui & O’Reilly, 1989). We controlled for two
specific forms of demographic similarity: gender similarity and
age similarity. Gender similarity was operationalized by using a
dummy variable with 1 coded as similar and 0 coded as dissimilar.
Fifty-eight percent of our participants worked in same-gender
dyads. Age similarity was operationalized as the absolute difference between the supervisors’ and subordinates’ ages. On average,
the members of the supervisor–subordinate dyads in our sample
differed by 11 years of age. We also controlled for subordinate
Neuroticism to partial out affect-driven response tendencies that
could bias perceptions of interpersonal and informational justice.
Neuroticism was assessed with the Big Five Inventory (John,
Donahue, & Kentle, 1991). The coefficient alpha for Neuroticism
was .81.
We conducted a confirmatory factor analysis to provide some
support for the construct validity of our scale measures. The
hypothesized 7-factor measurement model was tested by entering
the covariance matrix of the items into LISREL 8.52 (Jöreskog &
Sörbom, 1996). Fit statistics indicated acceptable fit for the hypothesized model and were as follows: "2(712, N ! 124) !
1,166.18, p # .001, "2/df ! 1.64, incremental fit index (IFI) ! .91,
root-mean-square error of approximation (RMSEA) ! .072. Acceptable model fit typically is inferred when IFI is above .90,
RMSEA is .08 or lower, and the ratio of chi square to degrees of
freedom is below 3 (Browne & Cudeck, 1993; Kline, 2005). All 35
factor loadings were statistically significant and averaged as follows: Interpersonal Justice (.92), Informational Justice (.86), Procedural Justice (.73), Distributive Justice (.96), Charisma (.77),
Positive Sentiments (.81), Negative Sentiments (.76), and Neuroticism (.72). The 7-factor measurement model fit the data significantly better than did alternative measurement models as judged
by a chi-square difference test. Those alternative measurement
models included a model that combined interpersonal and informational justice into one Interactional Justice factor, "2diff(7, N !
124) ! 447.38, p # .001; a model that combined positive and
negative sentiments into one Sentiments factor, "2diff(7, N !
124) ! 120.11, p # .001; and a model that combined positive
sentiments and charisma into one Positive Perceptions factor,
"2diff(7, N ! 124) ! 46.38, p # .001.
We should note that a total of 78 managers assessed charisma
and sentiments for the 132 subordinates in the final sample. Thus,
some managers completed a survey for more than 1 subordinate.
Specifically, 24 of the 78 managers completed multiple subordinate assessments, with an average of 3.3 subordinates being rated
by those 24 managers. We therefore computed intraclass correlations (ICCs) to verify that the subordinate level of analysis was
appropriate for the indicators used in our analyses. The average
ICC(1) values were as follows: .04 for subordinate Charisma, .19
for Positive Sentiments, .29 for Negative Sentiments, .13 for
Interpersonal Justice, and .10 for Informational Justice. Bliese and
Hanges (2004) noted that, when examining relationships among
variables at the same level of analysis (e.g., the individual level),
failing to account for nonindependence can harm statistical power
when traditional analyses are used rather than random coefficient
modeling. The authors offered a table for gauging the loss in power
as the ICC(1) for the dependent variable rises (see Bliese &
Hanges, 2004, Table 1, p. 412). Their table reveals a 5% drop in
power for tests of interpersonal and informational justice effects
(with power levels of .861 for random coefficient modeling and
.816 for traditional approaches) and a 10% drop in power for tests
of positive and negative sentiments (with power levels of .846 and
.744, respectively). Given these relatively modest differences in
power, we elected to utilize the traditional form of structural
equation modeling that should be more familiar to most readers.
Descriptive Statistics
Table 1 presents the means, standard deviations, and zero-order
correlations among the variables used in the study, with coefficient
alphas presented on the diagonal. Most notable are the correlations
between subordinate charisma and the organizational justice dimensions. Subordinate charisma was positively correlated with
interpersonal justice but not informational justice. Although not
the focus of our hypotheses, subordinate charisma also was positively correlated with procedural justice and (to a lesser extent)
distributive justice. We return to these latter relationships in the
Discussion section.
Tests of Hypotheses
Our structural equation modeling analyses were performed with
LISREL 8.52, with the measurement model results reviewed above
Table 1
Descriptive Statistics, Correlations, and Reliabilities
Subordinate charisma
Positive sentiments
Negative sentiments
Interpersonal justice
Informational justice
Procedural justice
Distributive justice
Gender similarity
Age similarity
Note. n ! 124 after listwise deletion of missing data. Coefficient alphas are presented along the diagonal in parentheses (where applicable).
p # .05.
supplemented by the structural paths used to test our predictions.
Control variables were included by adding direct paths from gender similarity, age similarity, and Neuroticism to interpersonal and
informational justice. In general, gender similarity was associated
with lower perceptions of interpersonal and informational justice,
as was subordinate Neuroticism (the effects of age similarity were
nonsignificant). We contrasted two a priori structural models: one
in which the relationships between subordinate charisma and interpersonal and informational justice perceptions were fully mediated by positive and negative sentiments and one in which mediation was only partial. The results of those two structural models
are shown in Figure 2, where the path coefficients represent
unstandardized regression weights. Both models provided an acceptable fit to the data, and the fit of the models was not significantly different, "2diff(2, N ! 124) ! 0.67, ns.
Hypothesis 1 predicted that subordinate charisma is positively
related to interpersonal and informational justice perceptions. Figure 2 provides LISREL’s effect decomposition for both structural
models. The total effect of subordinate charisma on interpersonal
justice was a statistically significant .37, providing support for our
prediction. That total effect can be recovered by tracing the combination of paths that connect the two variables (for example, in
the top panel, [.84 $ .32] % [–.41 $ –.27] ! .37). Unexpectedly,
the total effect of subordinate charisma on informational justice
was a nonsignificant .16, failing to support our prediction. Thus
Hypothesis 1 received partial support.
Hypothesis 2 predicted that the relationships between subordinate charisma and interpersonal and informational justice are mediated by positive and negative sentiments. The informational
justice part of that prediction was not supported given that the total
effect for charisma on informational justice was nonsignificant,
leaving no effect to be mediated. With respect to interpersonal
justice, the adequate fit of both models in Figure 2 provides some
support for the prediction, with the equivalent fit for the more
parsimonious model in the top panel providing evidence of complete mediation for charisma and interpersonal justice. The results
in the top panel reveal that subordinate charisma was significantly
related to both positive sentiments (B ! .84) and negative sentiments (B ! –.41). Both sentiments were, in turn, related to
interpersonal justice (B ! .32 for positive sentiments; B ! –.27 for
negative sentiments).
The output in the bottom panel provides the information needed
to test mediation from a variety of perspectives. MacKinnon,
Lockwood, Hoffman, West, and Sheets (2002) reviewed a number
of complementary approaches to testing mediation. Among them
was the “causal steps” approach popularized by Baron and Kenny
(1986). This approach first requires demonstrating that the independent variable has significant effects on the mediator(s) and that
the mediator(s) have significant effects on the dependent variable.
The results in Figure 2 support both steps for interpersonal justice.
The causal steps approach then requires that the total effect of the
independent variable on the dependent variable be decreased when
controlling for the mediator. In Figure 2, that step represents the
difference between the .37 total effect and the –.03 direct effect,
which is statistically significant. Although the causal steps approach supports mediation, MacKinnon et al. (2002) noted that it
often suffers from low statistical power. They therefore recommended that alternative approaches be utilized, such as the “product of coefficients” approach popularized by Sobel (1982). From
this perspective, a statistically significant indirect effect (when a
direct effect also is modeled) supports mediation. The bottom
panel of Figure 2 reveals that the indirect effect of charisma on
interpersonal justice was a statistically significant .40. Hypothesis
2 therefore received partial support.
This study explored a critical question that largely has been
neglected in the justice literature; namely, are certain subordinate
characteristics associated with managers’ adherence to justice
rules? To address this question, we drew from approach–avoidance
perspectives of behavior (e.g., Gray, 1990) to test a model linking
subordinate charisma to interpersonal and informational justice
perceptions through the underlying mechanisms of positive and
negative sentiments. In doing so, we were able to elucidate the
process by which subordinate charisma affects justice rule adherence. Our results demonstrated that subordinate charisma was
positively associated with interpersonal justice and that this effect
was mediated by increased positive and decreased negative sentiments felt by managers toward their subordinates. Interestingly,
alternative model comparisons pitting a fully mediated model
against a partially mediated model favored the former, suggesting
that positive and negative sentiments were completely responsible
for the relationship between subordinate charisma and interpersonal justice. In addition, both positive and negative sentiments
exhibited significant, unique effects on interpersonal justice. It
Interpersonal Effect
Total Effect = .37*
Indirect Effect = .37*
Direct Effect = na
Informational Effect
Total Effect = .16
Indirect Effect = .16
Direct Effect = na
X2 (793, N = 124) = 1,291.65; X2 /df = 1.63; IFI = .90; RMSEA = .072
Interpersonal Effect
Total Effect = .37*
Indirect Effect = .40*
Direct Effect = -.03
Informational Effect
Total Effect = .16
Indirect Effect = 5.01
Direct Effect = .17
X2 (791, N = 124) = 1,292.32; X2 /df = 1.63; IFI = .90; RMSEA = .072
Figure 2. Structural equation modeling results to test hypotheses. Values shown in the figures are unstandardized regression coefficients. Procedural and distributive justice were included in the analyses but paths to
them were fixed to zero. IFI ! incremental fit index; RMSEA ! root-mean-square error of approximation. *p #
.05, one-tailed.
may be that positive sentiments shape interpersonal justice by
triggering more respectful and courteous treatment but that negative sentiments also have an impact by enhancing the frequency of
improper or prejudicial statements.
In contrast to the results for interpersonal justice, the results for
informational justice were not supported. Subordinate charisma
was not related to informational justice, and informational justice
was not correlated with either positive or negative sentiments.
These null results could be attributed to two possibilities. First, it
may be that informational justice is not as “encounter based” as
interpersonal justice. Recall that Bies (2005) argued that both
interactional justice components held a special importance in organizations because they could be judged on a day-in day-out basis
in virtually any subordinate–manager encounter. We had reasoned
that both interpersonal and informational justice would be particularly sensitive to subordinate charisma and managerial sentiments
for that reason. However, it could be that informational justice, like
distributive and procedural justice, is more “exchange based.”
After all, informational justice relies on adhering to rules of
justification and truthfulness during decision-making events.
Those rules seem to require some sort of exchange context so that
there is something for the manager to explain to subordinates.
Alternatively, it could be that informational justice can be evaluated relatively frequently but that managers are unwilling to share
negative information with charismatic subordinates. In other
words, managers may have approached charismatic subordinates
more frequently than noncharismatic subordinates but, in an effort
to protect charismatic subordinates from potentially negative information, may have withheld certain details. Indeed, the criteria
for informational justice do not stipulate that the information
provided has to be positively valenced; instead, informational
justice is fostered when any type of information is provided, either
positive or negative, so long as that information is adequate and
candid (Bies & Moag, 1986). Thus, managers may have offered
charismatic subordinates more frequent justifications but also less
candid ones, resulting in a nonsignificant relationship between
subordinate charisma and informational justice perceptions.
Taken together, our findings contribute to the literature on
organizational justice in three important ways. First, our results
extend the findings of Korsgaard et al. (1998) by identifying an
additional subordinate characteristic, charisma, that is associated
with managers’ adherence to justice rules. Second, this study
answers calls in the literature to focus on the subordinate side of
the justice equation (Colquitt & Greenberg, 2003; Korsgaard et al.,
1998). As illustrated in Figure 1, the literature has tended to view
subordinates merely as passive recipients of just or unjust treatment, neglecting the possibility that subordinate characteristics can
actually influence justice rule adherence. Our results, coupled with
those of Korsgaard et al. (1998), suggest that just treatment is not
a completely one-sided affair; rather, both managers and subordinates may shape justice in the workplace. Third, our findings
further support the distinction between interpersonal and informational justice by demonstrating that the two forms of justice, which
once were subsumed by interactional justice (Bies & Moag, 1986),
are uniquely related to subordinate charisma and positive and
negative sentiments. Such findings are in accordance with previous
studies supporting the separation of interpersonal and informational justice (e.g., Colquitt, 2001; Colquitt et al., 2001).
Suggestions for Future Research
Our results offer a number of suggestions for future research.
First and foremost, we hope that this study will spur additional
theorizing and research on subordinate characteristics that are
associated with managers’ adherence to justice rules. Our results
suggest that subordinate characteristics that are associated with
positive and negative sentiments could influence adherence to
interpersonal justice rules. One promising subordinate characteristic for future research may be self-monitoring, which reflects a
tendency to observe, regulate, and control one’s public appearance
of self when interacting in social settings (Day & Kilduff, 2003;
Snyder, 1974). High self-monitors tend to prioritize enhancing
their status in an organization and often attain more desirable
positions in social networks. Those tendencies may serve as assets
that encourage their managers to adhere to norms of interpersonal
As research expands to consider other subordinate-based predictors of justice rule adherence, it may be particularly important
to focus on informational justice. Because informational justice
was unrelated to subordinate charisma or managerial sentiments in
our study, it remains an open question what subordinate characteristics could affect managers’ adherence to the justification and
truthfulness rules. One possibility is feedback seeking, a construct
that summarizes the frequency with which subordinates seek feedback, the methods they use to seek that feedback, and the topics
about which they seek feedback (Ashford, Blatt, & VandeWalle,
2003; Ashford & Cummings, 1983). As with self-monitoring,
feedback seeking occurs partly as a means of enhancing one’s
status. It follows that individuals with strong feedback-seeking
tendencies should be more likely to seek out justifications for key
decisions, particularly when those decisions have some impact on
their standing in the organization.
In addition, there also may be value in examining subordinate
characteristics that are associated with managers’ adherence to
procedural justice rules. Although we included procedural justice
in our data collection in the interest of completeness, we made no
hypotheses for it because it is bounded in relatively infrequent
exchange contexts and is somewhat dependent on formalized
systems in addition to managerial decision-making styles. Unexpectedly, subordinate charisma was positively correlated with procedural justice perceptions. To explore this finding more fully, we
examined a structural equation model with procedural justice as
the outcome rather than interpersonal and informational justice by
using the structure in the bottom panel of Figure 2. Tests of
mediation revealed that the total effect of subordinate charisma on
procedural justice was .47, that the indirect effect was near zero
(–.05), and that the direct effect matched the total effect (.52).
These results suggest that subordinate charisma did predict procedural justice perceptions but that the relationship was in no way
mediated by sentiments.
Although we found that sentiments mediated the relationship
between subordinate charisma and interpersonal justice, it may be
that less affective mechanisms explain the association with procedural justice. If we might speculate about other potential mediators, two mechanisms seem likely. First, it may be that the morality
component of charisma prompts managers to themselves behave
more morally, resulting in greater adherence to Leventhal’s (1980)
bias suppression and ethicality rules of procedural justice. In this
case, charismatic subordinates may motivate their managers to
become better leaders in their own right, thus increasing perceptions of justice. Second, it may be that the enhanced influence
enjoyed by charismatic subordinates results in higher levels of
voice and input, thereby enhancing procedural justice perceptions
(Folger, 1977; Shapiro & Brett, 2005; Thibaut & Walker, 1975).
Finally, future research should explore contextual factors that
may qualify the results shown in our study. Our predictions for
interpersonal and informational justice were grounded in approach
versus avoidance motivational systems (e.g., Elliot & Thrash,
2002). Although our interpretation of positive sentiments facilitating approach behavior and negative sentiments facilitating avoidance behavior is consistent with those models, managers also may
approach or avoid subordinates due to contextual factors. For
example, approach behaviors may be more likely in instances of
high task or resource interdependence (Wageman, 2001). Likewise, managers may approach subordinates who are central in their
network more frequently than they approach subordinates on the
periphery of the network (e.g., Brass & Burkhardt, 1993). In these
cases, increased adherence to interpersonal and informational justice rules may not necessarily result because the approach behavior
is driven by reasons other than affect. Nevertheless, future research
could examine whether approach–avoidance behaviors not driven
by affect could be associated with adherence to justice rules.
Some limitations of this study should be noted. First, we measured subordinates’ perceptions of managers’ justice rule adherence rather than actual rule adherence. Though it is customary in
the justice literature to assess justice from the subordinate’s perspective, this method leaves open the possibility that charismatic
subordinates merely perceived higher levels of rule adherence
regardless of their managers’ actual behaviors, perhaps because
charismatics have a more positive lens through which they interpret their environment. However, the charisma relationships remained significant with subordinate Neuroticism controlled, suggesting that our results are not an artifact of response tendencies.
Second, our measures of positive and negative sentiments did
not sample all potential positive and negative emotions that may be
associated with subordinates. For example, we operationalized
positive sentiments as the elicitation of joviality and self-assurance
in managers during real or anticipated encounters with the focal
subordinate, consistent with Frijda’s (1994) conceptualization of
sentiments. Though we drew from Watson’s (2000) hierarchical
structure of affect in choosing these emotions, we did not include
positive emotions such as attentiveness, which refers to feelings of
alertness and concentration. Likewise, though we operationalized
negative sentiments as the elicitation of hostility and fear, we
omitted other negative emotions in Watson’s (2000) structure of
affect, such as guilt. Future researchers should consider other
emotions in addition to those examined in the current study to
determine whether our results generalize or whether new findings
emerge. We also should note that the internal consistency estimate
for our negative sentiments scale was marginal at .70. Future
research should include a more extensive set of negative emotions
in an effort to boost reliability levels.
Third, the statistical power of our structural equation models
may have been hindered to some degree by the nonindependence
created by having 24 managers complete assessments for multiple
subordinates. In general, however, the differences in statistical
power between traditional structural equation modeling and alternatives such as random coefficient modeling should be modest
given the ICC(1) values in our data (Bliese & Hanges, 2004).
Moreover, the effect sizes for our statistically significant results
were quite strong, and the effect sizes for our nonsignificant results
were often near zero, making issues of power less critical (Bliese
& Hanges, 2004). Still, future researchers interested solely in
individual-level effects should attempt to ensure that their respondents are independent from one another whenever possible.
Finally, we failed to assess subordinates’ job performance when
testing the relationships between subordinate charisma and interpersonal and informational justice. Some facets of the charisma
construct are relevant to performance in many jobs, including the
projection of confidence and the ability to influence others. It
therefore remains an empirical question whether the charisma
effects observed in our data would remain as strong with performance controlled. We would note, however, that Colquitt et al.’s
(2001) meta-analysis of the organizational justice literature failed
to yield significant relationships between interpersonal justice and
performance (r ! .03) or between informational justice and performance (r ! .13). Although the few studies that have investigated those relationships conceptualized the causal order as flowing from justice to performance, those studies are typically crosssectional and correlational in nature. The lack of significant
covariation between interpersonal and informational justice and
job performance provides some support for the belief that our
charisma effects are not an artifact of differences in performance
levels across subordinates.
Practical Implications
Despite these limitations, our results offer practical implications
for both subordinates and managers. If future research replicates
the effects observed in our data, then subordinates may benefit
from an awareness that they are not merely passive recipients of
just or unjust treatment. Rather, they may be able to proactively
manage the treatment they receive by acting more charismatically.
Although some subordinates naturally may be more charismatic,
perhaps because they possess personality traits that encourage such
behaviors (Judge & Bono, 2000), past research has shown that
individuals can be trained to become more charismatic (Barling,
Weber, & Kelloway, 1996; Towler, 2003). For example, Towler’s
(2003) training in charismatic style and visionary content was
associated with increased charismatic behaviors, such as the use of
analogies, stories, body gestures, and an animated tone of voice.
Such training could be built into employee development courses to
provide a means of improving subordinates’ skills in this area.
Those efforts could also be bolstered by adding charismatic content into the annual assessments that help guide employee development efforts.
From the manager’s perspective, it is important for managers to
understand the factors that may intentionally (or unintentionally)
impact their adherence to interpersonal justice rules. We suspect
that many managers would be surprised that their own sentiments,
influenced by subordinate characteristics, were associated with
perceptions of interpersonal treatment. Being sensitized to the
effects of subordinate characteristics could help managers resist
the temptation to act disrespectfully toward subordinates who
trigger negative feelings within them. Scholars often have recommended justice training as a means of emphasizing the importance
of justice rule adherence to managers (Skarlicki & Latham, 2005).
Our results could be incorporated into such training programs to
emphasize that leaders may find it more difficult to transfer their
training to particular subordinates.
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Received May 17, 2006
Revision received March 1, 2007
Accepted March 26, 2007 !
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Justice as a Dependent Variable: Subordinate Charisma as a Predictor... Interpersonal and Informational Justice Perceptions