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Critique of the Journal Article “Why It Is so Hard to Be Fair” by Joel Brockner, 2006

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Critique of the journal article “Why it is so hard to be fair” by Joel Brockner, 2006 Highly motivated, involved and committed workforce is the best resource for the company because highly enthusiastic and complete involvement and commitment of the employees brings great profit to the company (Carslen, 2003). Different from the traditional concept of money is the motivator to employees; many researchers have proved there are others things that can trigger employees’ motivation better than money in many sectors (Panwar & Gupta, 2012; Hong & Waheed, 2011; Beavis, 2003). Joel Brockner also gives a way for companies to get employees’ motivation, involvement and commitment through his journal article “Why it is so hard to be fair”. Brockner states the commitment to the companies is highest when employees perceive they have been treated fairly. So companies need to build that perception through sharing information openly for a quite depth and listening employees voices enthusiastically. In other word treat human being like a human being, let them know what they need to know and make them feel they are a part of the company not just a paid- hired workers.

Brockner names this strategy into the process fairness. He builds his article with a three main parts. First, why is fairness important? Second, why does that fairness so hard to get or practice? Finally, he concludes with suggestion of how to overcome those difficulties. The main idea of writing this paper is to explain why managers are hesitating to behave fairly. Instead of directly goes into the main point, he introduces why it is important to behave fairly showing wrongful termination suits examples which is the biggest problem for companies to face with. It not only costs legal defense cost but also damages the employment branding of the companies. By showing the biggest headaches problem bring attention of the companies’ top executives. In other word, he knows how to grab the interest of the readers. He persuades companies to use his process fairness by showing his depth understanding in human behavior like people only file sue when they believe that they are treated unfairly or employees will not frustrate even he is passed over for promotion if he is being told properly what places he has been lacked or people can tolerance negative experiences when they expect them, etc.

This gives readers some kind of psychological feeling like respecting and leads to the mind of testing fairness process once in the work environment. The structure that Brockner construct his paper using problems that companies face in their daily lives to show the important of process fairness and the reasons why managers are hesitate to use and the effectiveness of his suggestions to overcome hesitation makes the readers more understand and makes the point that he want to convince more clear. Although many studies have suggested money is no longer motivators for employees, there are some areas that money can still be a reward to motivate employees and people are still motivated by money for different reasons (Utsugi, 2012; Bohlander, et al., 2001). Unlike other authors who totally ignore the important of money, Brockner takes account money in his paper with a word “money does talk”. With this point, we can see that he is writing in balance way. Firstly, even though the fairness process can give companies many benefits, there are some limitations in some area. It is true that we need to ample advance notice of change to all levels in order to make change in ease.

But involving every employee in the decision making will be a difficult change for some companies’ certain level people like the manufacturing companies’ daily paid workers or piece rate workers. In short, it is not suitable for all levels. Secondly, Brockner fails to take account the culture aspect in his paper. The fairness process that he introduced will have a difficult situation in some culture like conservation of Schwartz (Schwartz, 1990). They have a strong traditional ways of thinking and their values, norms and culture have a difficulty of accepting process fairness. Most of people in this culture are unable to defense what other people say and just listen what other say. The worst is involving in the decision making will make them more fearful.

Even CEO or Boss has a willingness to adopt this process; it will take some decades to build this kind of culture. If scanning this paper, it looks like Brockner is in the employee’s side. But when reading deeply, this paper is designed for the companies by thinking for only companies. He stated that if employees perceive some problems like termination or promoting, then there will be no problem. But if problem is really unfair, employees are covered with sweet words. This is another type of unfairness too. Process fairness is very good to solve the problem like lawsuit for termination, reducing stress, promoting innovative and creative culture. But the definition of fairness has a wide meaning. The way one people see fairness will be different from the one who has perceived. Brockner needs to define the term “fairness” in more precise.


Beavis, O. H., 2003. “Performance-Based Rewards for Teachers”A Literature Review”. Australia, University of Melbourne. Bohlander, G., Snell, S. & Sherman, A., 2001. “Managing Human Resources(12th edition)”. Mason,Ohio, South-Western College . Carslen, K., 2003. “Sales Motivation: One Size Does Not Fit All”. Selling , pp. 14-15. Hong, T. T. & Waheed, A., 2011. “Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory And Job Satisfaction in the Malaysian Retail Sector: THe Mediating Effect of Love of Money”. Asian Academy of Management Journal, 16(1), pp. 73-94. Panwar, S. & Gupta, N., 2012. “Money: Does It Really Affect Hotel Employee’s Performance As A Motivational Factor”. VSRD Interantional Journal of Business & Management Research , 2(2), pp. 38-46. Schwartz, S., 1990. “Individualism/Collectivisim:Critigue and Proposed Refinements”. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Volume 21, pp. 139-157. Utsugi, T., 2012. “Motivating Factors for Young Adults in the Brattleboro Area to Start in Organic Agriculture for Their Career”. Japan, Capstone Collection, pp. 98-100.

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