The role of authority power in explaining procedural fairness effects

By: Marius van Dijke, David De Cremer, Dave M. Mayer

Van Dijke, M., De Cremer, D., & Mayer, D. M. (2010). The role of authority power in explaining procedural fairness effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95: 488-502.


Building on fairness heuristic theory, fairness theory, and trust development models, we argue that unfairly enacted procedures decrease followers’ trust in the authority particularly when authorities have high power over their followers. Moreover, we expected trust to mediate procedural fairness effects on followers’ attitudes (authorities’ legitimacy and charisma attributed to authorities) and organizational citizenship behavior. Procedural fairness effects on these variables, as mediated by trust, should therefore also be stronger when authority power is high. The results of a single- and multisource field study and a laboratory experiment supported these predictions. These studies support the role of authority power as a theoretically and practically relevant moderator of procedural fairness effects and show that its effectiveness is explained through trust in authorities.