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The Higher Education Institution: Organizational Justice

Introduction

The article selected for review is titled “Organizational Justice and Organizational Citizenship Behavior in Higher Education Institution”. It reports on a study conducted by Mohammad, Habib, and Alias in 2010. The study considered the relationship between organizational justice and organizational citizenship behaviors of staff in higher education settings. The study utilized a quantitative methodology, with surveys as the primary data collection methods.

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Based on the findings of the study, there was no significant relationship between distributive justice and organizational citizenship behavior, although procedural and interactional justice impacted citizenship behaviors. The results shared by the authors support the view that corporate citizenship is affected by intra organizational factors, including perceived fairness.

The results of the study and the information presented in the manuscript could be applied in practice by managers and institutions willing to increase the prevalence of positive organizational citizenship behaviors. Additionally, the study could be used to support further scholarly work in the area of organizational citizenship and other aspects of human resource management. However, in order to ensure that further application would benefit academic work and practice, it is essential to appraise the quality of the article and the study behind it.

The purpose of the present review will be to examine the content of the article and critique it to determine if and how the article can be applied in future management research. Hence, the review will provide some information about the topic and the author’s research and then use it to critique the manuscript and the study.

Literature Review

Organizational citizenship behavior is an important concept in human resource management, although there are still discrepancies pertaining to its definition and components. The authors reflect these aspects of OCB in their literature review. Based on previous theoretical work on the topic, the authors note that OCB has been defined as a set of discretionary behaviors fulfilling one’s job requirements, as supportive activities aimed at coworkers and supervisors, or as work-related discretionary behaviors that are not rewarded but benefit the organization (Mohammad et al., 2010).

From these definitions, three shared characteristics have been defined by the authors. First of all, organizational citizenship behaviors are voluntary and not required of the individual by the company or management (Mohammad et al., 2010). Secondly, organizational citizenship behaviors yield benefits for one’s employer. Thirdly, organizational citizenship behaviors are multidimensional in nature and surpass what is generally expected of the employee (Mohammad et al., 2010).

Besides clarifying the definition of the concept, the authors also distinguish two types of OCB: OCBO, or the behaviors aimed to benefit the organization, and OCBI, “altruistic behaviors that immediately benefit specific individuals within the organization” (Mohammad et al., 2010, p. 15). Both types of OCB benefit the organization, but the latter does so indirectly.

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Organizational justice is also a prominent concept in research. Mohammad et al. (2010) explain that organizational justice refers to employees’ perceptions about the fairness of organizational procedures and the allocation of performance outcomes within the company. The authors list and explore three types of organizational justice in their article: distributive, procedural, and interactional. The first type refers to people’s perceptions regarding the fairness of value distribution within the company, whereas procedural justice focuses on whether the procedures used to attribute value outcomes to employees are fair (Mohammad et al., 2010).

Lastly, interactional justice focuses on the fairness of interpersonal treatment within the company (Mohammad et al., 2010). The descriptions and evaluations provided by the authors in their article are rather concise, although they still introduce the key aspects of the problem effectively.

Research Aims and Objectives

Based on the information contained in the abstract, the primary aim of the research was to develop a deeper understanding of the connection between organizational citizenship behavior and organizational justice. Consequently, the objective of the study was “to investigate the effect of organizational justice upon the organizational citizenship behavior in the Higher Education Institution context; more specifically, to examine the effect of three types of organizational justice (distributive, procedural, and interactional justice) upon two dimensions of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB), i.e., OCBI and OCBO in the Higher Education Institution context” (Mohammad et al., 2010, p. 14). No other objectives of the study were identified.

The authors’ rationale for focusing on this aspect of human resource management lies in their connection to the education sector of Malaysia. Mohammad et al. (2010) focus on higher education institutions in Malaysia as part of their research due to the high importance of higher education in the country’s development. The authors explain that with Malaysia aiming to become “the regional hub for educational excellence,” the country has to develop the potential of people and organizations operating in the higher education sector (Mohammad et al., 2010, p. 16).

This suggests that the study has high significance for human resource management in Malaysian higher education, specifically. The results of the study could be used to improve organizational citizenship behavior of staff in Malaysian higher education institutions, which, in turn, would help these organizations to develop their performance and capabilities in the long-term. Therefore, the aims and objectives of the study fit in with the author’s commitment to the development of their country’s higher education sector.

Research Methodology

There were six hypotheses that had to be tested as part of the study. The first hypothesis was that “distributive justice will be significantly and positively related to OCBI in higher educational institutions”, whereas the second hypothesis concerned OCBO: “distributive justice will be significantly positively related to OCBO in higher educational institution” (Mohammad et al., 2010). The second set of hypotheses concerned the positive effect of procedural justice on OCBI and OCBO, and the third set focused on interactional justice (Mohammad et al., 2010). Each hypothesis was tested in a sample of 120 staff members working in the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

In order to collect data from the selected sample, researchers distributed 120 self-administered questionnaires focused on organizational justice and citizenship behaviors. Only 63 out of 120 questionnaires were retrieved, and the authors clarify hat the response rate was 52.5% (Mohammad et al., 2010). The composition of the questionnaire relied on prior research studies wherein original research instruments were developed and tested. Hence, the authors used five separate instruments, combining them into one questionnaire to ease the process of completing them (Mohammad et al., 2010). The reported validity and reliability of the tools used for data collection are high.

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The process of data analysis followed a multi-step, quantitative analysis procedure. First, the authors calculated descriptive statistics for each of the variables considered in their hypotheses (Mohammad et al., 2010). Secondly, they performed a correlation analysis to determine the presence and direction of the relationship. Finally, multiple and hierarchal regression analyses were used to determine the degree to which this relationship explained the changes in the dependent variable for each hypothesis (Mohammad et al., 2010. The results of each analysis are presented using tables and supporting written notes.

Discussion

In the discussion, the authors report on their findings and explain what different figures mean and how these results can be translated into practice. The primary finding of the research that underpins the rest of the results is that the overall organizational justice positively and significantly relates to general OCB (Mohammad et al., 2010). This means that, if scores across all sub-types of organizational sub-types are mapped against the combined OCBI and OCBO score, the positive correlation will be evident (Mohammad et al., 2010).

The authors explain that this result is most likely due to people’s tendency to behave more altruistically toward their organization if they feel that they are being treated fairly (Mohammad et al., 2010). With regard to the six research hypotheses, the results are mostly in line with this general finding. For the first set of hypotheses, the authors found that distributive justice did not have a statistically significant effect on OCBI or OCBO (Mohammad et al., 2010). Therefore, the first two hypotheses were rejected.

Procedural and interactional justice, however, showed different results when compared with OCB. The correlation between procedural justice and OCBO or OCBI was the most significant, thus proving the second set of study hypotheses (Mohammad et al., 2010). Interactional justice was also positively tied with OCBI and OCBO, although the significance levels were somewhat less prominent (Mohammad et al., 2010). This means that some support for the final set of hypotheses was also produced.

The authors highlight that the results of their study were in line with other research on the topic of distributive justice and its impact on organizational citizenship behavior. According to Mohammad et al. (2010), this could be because distributive justice related more to short-term affective reactions rather than to long-term commitment to the organization. Hence, the discussion section provides a summary of results while also explaining how and why the results related to other research in this field. The discussion section also presents some concluding remarks, including practical implications.

Paper Critique

Title and Abstract

The title of the article helps readers to understand the authors’ primary focus before reading the article, which is useful given the number of articles available on human resource management and related subjects. Still, the title fails to acknowledge the context of the study or its purpose, thus making it sound like a descriptive, general research study instead. Mentioning that the study focused on a higher education institution in Malaysia would help to narrow down the perceived focus of the article, thus assisting readers in determining whether it is relevant to their interests. Additionally, the authors should have explained that the study considers the relationship between the two variables rather than merely describing them. Hence, adding the methods or research design to the title would have made it more informative.

The abstract contains all of the sections that are usually expected of a research paper. In a brief, half-page abstract, the authors define the purpose, design, findings, research limitations and implications, practical implication, and originality. The data contained in each section of the abstract are concise and accurate, with additional details given where necessary. However, the abstract is somewhat misleading because it mentions that the survey included 120 staff members, whereas only 63 participants submitted their responses.

The sample size is crucial in quantitative studies; thus, when the sample is rather small, as in the present case, the authors should mention it in the abstract as part of research limitations. In this way, authors could have made sure that researchers looking for past studies with larger samples would not consider their work by mistake. Other than that, the abstract is effective in conveying primary information about the chosen research study.

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Secondary Data Use

Even though the article relies on primary research, it still uses secondary data to provide an overview of the topic and establish the theoretical framework. Thus, it is essential to evaluate the authors’ use of data from other sources. Effective use of secondary data in literature reviews or theoretical frameworks is usually marked by several key characteristics. Firstly, the data has to be relevant to the topic to avoid general statements or inadequate depth of the material covered. Secondly, the data has to come from credible resources. In research articles, scholars tend to rely on other scholarly texts, including books and articles from peer-reviewed journals, and it is rare for academics to use web pages or blogs as a source of information.

Finally, data should not be outdated, which means that resources should have recent publication dates. However, chronological literature reviews could include articles dating back decades. Similarly, theoretical frameworks can make use of the concepts introduced much earlier, and would thus include older resources. Therefore, this is not a universal requirement, and its application depends on the specific case.

In this article, the use of secondary data by authors is generally appropriate. Mohammad et al. (2010) rely on other resources for definitions and use them to support their hypotheses and the theoretical framework of the study. Most of the sources that focus on the effects of organizational justice or its relation to organizational citizenship behaviors were recent at the time of publication, whereas definitions were mainly taken from older sources to highlight the development of these concepts over time. Mohammad et al. (2010) also use relevant secondary data to establish the context of the study in Malaysia by exploring its educational sector and its characteristics.

Still, there are instances when authors refer to the findings of studies that were 15 to 20 years old at the time of publication. Also, the range of literature used in the research and reflected in the reference list is concise despite the volume of the literature review. These two features suggest that the authors used secondary data that included a low number of perspectives and views on the topic and that some of the findings that the authors refer to might have been disproven already through recent research. Thus, the authors’ use of secondary data reduces the quality of the article.

Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of the study is revealed at the end of the instruction. Furthermore, the research article contains a separate section on objectives, where the authors’ intentions are defined and conveyed clearly. The authors provide both a general objective and a more specific one (Mohammad et al., 2010). The primary objective was “to investigate the effect of organizational justice upon the organizational citizenship behavior” in the selected context (Mohammad et al., 2010, p. 14).

The specific objective was to examine the effect of different sub-types of organizational justice on the twoOCB dimensions (Mohammad et al., 2010). These objectives coincide with the dependent and independent variables investigated by the authors, meaning that they were used to formulate the design of the study. In addition, the purpose and objectives correlate with the theoretical framework of this scholarly work and its context. The researchers explain that organizational citizenship behavior is highly beneficial to organizations because it helps them to generate more value and grow further (Mohammad et al., 2010). This makes OCB particularly relevant to the context of Malaysian higher education, where it could be used to stimulate growth and continuous improvement.

Nevertheless, the article does not explain the originality of the study in connection with these objectives. Both the literature review and the theoretical framework of the study suggest that similar studies have been conducted before and reached conclusive results. The authors fail to explain how their research aims and objectives are different from those of past researchers in this topic and do not provide a clear rationale for their study. This undermines the report and the study itself, causing doubts related to its usefulness and value to research and practice.

Research Question

Evaluating the research question that the study focuses on can help to judge whether the research is relevant, original, and well-planned. In quantitative research, questions should be specific enough to allow answering them with quantitative data, which usually means that closed-ended questions are preferred. In terms of originality, it is also beneficial for a study to consider a topic from a new angle or in a new context so that it could add to the body of existing research rather than repeat other research.

In the present article, the authors do not list the specific research questions, although they can be identified from the hypotheses and objectives. The three questions that the study sought to answer were as follows:

  1. Is distributive justice significantly and positively related to OCB in a Malaysian higher education institution?
  2. Does procedural justice have a significant positive effect on employee OCB in a Malaysian higher education institution?
  3. Does interactional justice have a significant positive effect on employee OCB in a Malaysian higher education institution?

As evident from the list, all questions are closed-ended, and thus they can be answered using quantitative data. The questions are also appropriate for the selected topic because OCB is often tied to other organizational features, and testing the correlation between them is a popular area of scholarly inquiry. To determine whether or not the questions offer an original view of the topic and are creative enough, a search of academic databases was performed with the terms “organizational citizenship behavior”, “organizational justice”, and “higher education”.

Although there were some studies that mirrored these research questions, they were mostly newer. At the time of publication, the author’s approach and the questions that they focused on were sufficiently original. In addition, focusing on Malaysian higher education specifically provided an opportunity for authors to distinguish their study from others. Overall, it should be noted that the questions considered in the study are original and appropriate to the goals and methods of the study. However, the article would benefit from including a list of questions in its body to ensure that there are no gaps in the report.

Research Methods

The methods of the study have both strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, quantitative research is highly useful with regard to establishing correlation and relationship between two or more variables. Because quantitative research studies are based on numerical information, they reduce the risk of researchers’ bias impacting the results and conclusions. This, in turn, contributes to the overall value of the results and the possibility of their further use in research and practice.

On the other hand, quantitative research does not always allow gaining an in-depth understanding of a concept or a relationship between the two variables. For this reason, while the authors were able to generate and present their conclusions, they could not explain the forces that influenced the results specifically. The lack of understanding as to how one variable affects the other is among the main limitations of quantitative research, and it influences whether or not a study could be effectively used in the future.

Additionally, the methods used by the authors also had important advantages and disadvantages. A particular strength of the study’s methodology is that it relied on proven data collection instruments with high validity and reliability scores. For example, the instruments used to measure OCBO and OCBI had Cronbach’s Alpha score of 0.85 and 0.91, respectively, indicating the high quality of data collected.

By using reliable instruments, the authors were able to obtain relevant data and use it in their analysis to generate conclusions. Nevertheless, the low response rate and the small size of the initial sample, as well as the choice of the setting, al affect the degree to which the findings can be generalized to other populations. Furthermore, the use of convenience sampling is widely criticized since it is known to affect the validity and generalizability of the findings. Consequently, these aspects of the study will likely prevent the application of its results in other settings.

Research Design

The specific design employed by the researchers is descriptive correlational. This type of quantitative research focuses on identifying and describing the relationship between two or more variables. Consequently, this design can determine the presence of a correlation and define whether or not it is statistically significant. The authors applied this design because it suited the identified research questions and was useful for researching the hypotheses.

Descriptive correlational research has a number of benefits and drawbacks that are applicable to the current study. On the one hand, it is relatively easy to conduct because data analysis usually relies on regression modeling or correlation analysis. As a result, this research design takes less time and can be implemented in various situations where complex data are not required. Furthermore, descriptive correlational research provides necessary information about the relationship between variables. It identifies the direction of the connection (i.e., positive or negative) and its strength, which are usually the key to understanding the relationship.

On the other hand, descriptive correlational design usually considers the relationship of variables at a single point in times, which prevents from observing the dynamics of the relationship between them. It is also not suited for determining the cause-and-effect pattern affecting the variables. In other words, this research design can highlight if the variables are connected, and the change in one prompts a specific change in the other, but it would not assist in determining whether one variable causes the other to change. Hence, insight gained from such data will be limited.

The advantages and disadvantages of descriptive correlational research affect its application in various scholarly fields. Despite the limitations identified above, the use of this design was mostly justified because the authors’ research questions and hypotheses focused primarily on the correlation between variables and its strength. Using linear regression analysis enabled them to address the gaps of this design because regression analysis can assist in exploring the influence of one variable on the other.

Sampling

Sampling procedures have a significant influence on the quality of a research study because they impact the validity of results. There are two standard methods of sampling: probability and non-probability. Probability sampling is considered to be a more reliable method since it involves random sampling participants from a larger population. This technique restricts the possibility of bias and may make the sample more representative, thus allowing for a generalization.

However, this sampling technique is usually more time-consuming because it might involve additional steps, such as changing participants if one of them is unavailable and contacting a large number of people initially. Non-probability sampling, in turn, is considered to be weaker because it allows for more bias and can compromise the results and conclusions of a study. In non-probability sampling, participants are not chosen at random, and they are selected because they fit a particular profile or suit the needs of the study.

With regard to sampling, the authors note that they used convenience sampling. The size of the sample size was determined based on past research studies in similar areas of inquiry (Mohammad et al., 2010). Convenience sampling typically involves recruiting participants that the researcher has easy access to. This sampling method is often criticized for the lack of validity, and the authors acknowledge this limitation (Mohammad et al., 2010).

Still, convenience sampling has some benefits that are important for this study, including good access to participants and the ease of implementation. Convenience sampling is also less time-consuming than other methods, as additional procedures are not required. On the whole, the authors used an appropriate method of sampling to match their goals, but it still compromises the results of the study due to low external validity and a high risk of bias in the results.

Discussion

The findings of the study are presented in two separate sections. First, the Finding and Discussion section identifies and explained the results of the analysis. The combination of written text and supportive visuals, such as tables, is useful for understanding how different relationships and variables compare to one another. The researchers structure this section by type of analysis, moving from sample description to hierarchical regression analysis.

Descriptive data provide some necessary information about the sample, including demographics, although descriptive statistics to identify mean tenure, education level, or age are not present. Correlation and regression analyses follow sample information, providing more details about the relationship between different variables. On the whole, the structure and content of this section are helpful because it provides most of the necessary information. Still, including descriptive statistics for sample characteristics would benefit the representation of results.

Secondly, the section titled Discussion and Conclusion explains the meaning of results and relates them to those obtained in prior studies on the topic. For example, the researchers suggest possible explanations for the link between organizational justice and OCB and highlight where their results match those achieved by other scholars. The main weakness of this section is that it does not provide sufficient detail. There is less than one page of content, with one to two sentences considering the relationships studied in the research. Therefore, the level of insight provided by the author’s discussion is mediocre at best.

Manuscript

Apart from the weaknesses and limitations identified above, the manuscript itself raises doubts regarding its quality. Firstly, the authors’ language use shows instances of grammar mistakes, whereas individual sentences can be highly confusing for readers. For example, in the literature review, the authors attempt to distinguish between various types of organizational justice. With regard to distributive justice, they explain that it refers to “the fairness of the outcome the employee receive” (Mohammad et al., 2010, p. 15).

In the next section, procedural justice is defined in the same way: “procedural justice refers to the people’s perception of the fairness of the outcome they receive” (Mohammad et al., 2010, p. 16). Thus, in the literature review, the authors’ use of language and secondary sources creates obstacles for readers who are not familiar with the topic.

Secondly, the manuscript could be improved in terms of structure and content. Although the main sections of a scholarly article were included in the manuscript, they are mostly short, repetitive, and do not provide vital information. For instance, the authors did not discuss whether or not there is a gap in the research literature that the study would attempt to fill, nor did they comment on past research on organizational citizenship in Malaysia.

These gaps affect the quality of the manuscript significantly as they prevent readers from being able to place the study into its full academic context. In other words, while we may know that the research seeks to contribute to management practice applied in Malaysian higher education, the design of the study prevents its findings from having a significant practical influence. Hence, it is likely that the manuscript would have benefitted from a more in-depth exploration of the scholarly and practical contexts of the study, its intended contribution, and the rationale for selecting the study design and methods.

Objectivity

One of the main factors that play a role in determining the quality of a research study or an article is objectivity. In broad terms, objectivity refers to the degree to which the authors remain unbiased in their claims, suggestions, and explorations. In other words, objectivity raises the quality of a scholarly article by ensuring that the authors had considered the issue from various perspectives. In the present case, the degree of authors’ objectivity can be doubted.

The list of references used in the literature review is relatively short, meaning that the authors included carefully selected articles instead of reporting on various conclusions and trends in this research field. This suggestion is also supported by the fact that the manuscript contains a low number of references to studies that contradict the authors’ points. For instance, in the methods section, the authors fail to mention the criticism of convenience sampling (Mohammad et al., 2010). This points to the possibility of the authors being biased in their appraisal of past literature and, consequently, in their discussion of results.

Ethical Considerations

Any research that includes human subjects has to be appraised and evaluated in terms of ethical compliance. There are various institutions that detail ethical standards applied to research studies and issue approvals to study proposals and designs to identify their ethical compliance. The concerns associated with research, in this case, vary from participants’ privacy and confidentiality to their consent to participation. As a rule, researchers have to make sure that participants engage in the study voluntarily, receive all necessary information about their research, and understand their right to leave it at any point.

In addition, researchers also need to take steps to protect the participants’ privacy and confidentiality. It is a common practice to use ID numbers instead of participant names, store information in a password-protected destination, and destroy all research documentation entirely after a certain period of time. Researchers who are committed to fulfilling ethical requirements may also seek to obtain approval for a research study from their institution or another organization issuing such approvals. Besides ensuring the safety of participants, such approvals also guarantee that there are no conflicts of interest present, thus enhancing the trustworthiness of the authors’ conclusion.

In this article, the authors provide no information relates to ethical compliance, principles, or steps taken to protect the participants. Given that the research was conducted in a higher education institution that the authors have access to, the study has put the privacy and confidentiality of its participants at risk by not taking the necessary precautions. The authors also fail to confirm the absence of any conflicts of interest. Therefore, the article does not comply with the essential ethical requirements, and there are no indications that the research process was safe for the participants. This allows doubting the quality of research and the conclusions drawn from it.

Conclusion

Overall, the article reports on a study focused on the relationship between organizational justice and OCB in one higher education institution in Malaysia. The study and the manuscript both have important strengths and weaknesses that affect how they can be used in future practice and research. For example, the manuscript shows the authors’ lack of objectivity and does not present an accurate, in-depth exploration of the literature on the topic of interest.

The study, in turn, relies on convenience sampling and has a limited sample size of 120 with a response rate of just over 50%. Additionally, the authors failed to meet ethical requirements with regard to conflicts of interest, participants’ privacy, and confidentiality of information. These factors affect the reliability of the findings and their implications for human resource practice in higher education. Based on the appraisal of the manuscript and the reported results of the study, it is unlikely that it could be used to enhance human resource practice in higher education or serve as a guide for scholars wishing to learn more about the topic.

Still, it is possible that the study can contribute to research in the areas of organizational justice and organizational citizenship. Despite the limitations imposed by the small sample size, the research supported previous findings regarding the association between organizational citizenship and organizational justice. Using the authors’ discussion and thoughts, other researchers could use the article to design other studies to fill in the gaps in the literature on the subject. Moreover, managers working at the research site could apply the results to enhance levels of organizational citizenship by addressing employees’ perceptions of organizational justice.

Reference

Mohammad, J., Habib, F. Q. B., & Alias, M. A. B. (2010). Organizational justice and organizational citizenship behavior in higher education institution. Global Business and Management Research, 2(1), 13-32.

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