Flight from unfairness: Effects of perceived injustice on emotional exhaustion and employee withdrawal

Larry W. Howard, Cynthia L. Cordes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine emotional mechanisms by which perceived injustice is translated into forms of employee withdrawal. Based on person-environment fit theory, we develop arguments predicting mediation between perceived justice and withdrawal by an emotional suffering syndrome and emotional exhaustion. Design/Methodology/Approach: Survey data were provided by 437 randomly selected workers from various occupations and industries. Findings: Using structural equation modeling, we determined that distributive and procedural justice contribute both directly and indirectly through emotional pathways to influence employee absenteeism, turnover intentions, work alienation, and self-medication with alcohol. Implications: These results provide new insights into emotional mediation of justice/injustice effects, and extend the scope of withdrawal responses. Originality/Value: The roles of emotions in mediating relationships between injustice and withdrawal outcomes have been largely unexamined. Our results offer significant insights into those mechanisms. We also extended the literature by examining positive and negative emotional states and four forms of withdrawal, and by demonstrating that favorable justice judgments may contribute to emotional wellness in much the same way that unfavorable justice judgments contribute to emotional suffering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-428
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 8 2010


  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Employee withdrawal
  • Mediation
  • Organizational justice
  • Structural equation models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Flight from unfairness: Effects of perceived injustice on emotional exhaustion and employee withdrawal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this