ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (12): 2260-2271.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.02260

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The effect of organizational (in)justice on organizational retaliation behavior and the underlying mechanisms

LIU Depeng1, GAO Xiangyu2   

  1. 1School of Management, Shandong University, Jinan 250100, China;
    2Business School, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
  • Received:2020-08-24 Online:2021-12-15 Published:2021-10-26

Abstract: Organizational retaliatory behaviors, defined as employees’ retaliatory behaviors towards the organization and its agents due to unjust treatment toward employees, are a prevalent phenomenon in workplaces. Important progress have been achieved in the existing literature. First, researchers have established the concept and distinguish it from similar concepts. Furthermore, the scales that are respectively suitable for western and Chinese contexts are developed. Second, perception of injustice is identified as the most important antecedent of organizational retaliatory behaviors. Scholars have explored the main and interaction effects of different justice dimensions on organizational retaliatory behaviors from various theoretical perspectives. What is more, several studies have begun to explore the potential negative consequences of organizational retaliatory behaviors. Third, scholars in China have paid attention to this topic and reviewed some literature in this area.
Although fruitful progress has been achieved in the past years, there are still some research gaps in the existing literature. First of all, few studies have reviewed existing 20-year literature on organizational retaliatory behaviors systematically. It not only hinders the discourse among existing literature but also prevents the development of future research. Second, current literature mainly focuses on the concepts and the antecedents of organizational retaliatory behaviors. However, the mechanisms that explain the effect of perception of injustice and organizational retaliatory behavior are relatively ignored. It is timely to review the existing literature and propose a new framework to integrate various perspectives given the salience of this topic and the above gaps.
We categorize existing research on organizational retaliatory behaviors into four quadrants according to two dimensions. One of the dimensions is the complexity of justice types (one type or interaction of different types), and the other is the subject of injustice perception (receiver and observer). We fill the gaps mentioned above by categorizing, comparing, and integrating the underlying theories and mechanisms in each quadrant. Specifically, we summarize self-control theory, emotion-related theory, social exchange theory, and recent resource theory from the receiver’s perspective. On the other hand, we integrate cognitive and emotional mechanisms from the observer’s perspective. We also compare research from these two perspectives. The authors also propose future research directions by integrating various theories and mechanisms and calling for research from an observer perspective.

Key words: organizational retaliation behavior, organizational (in)justice, receiver, observer, mechanism

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