Studies have started to examine factors that explain when and why leaders enact procedural justice. However, these studies have not considered the idea that justice enactment can be a self-serving instrument for leaders. In this paper, we propose a threat-based tripartite model of procedural justice enactment. Specifically, we examine how leaders in unstable (vs. stable) power positions combine information from the two fundamental dimensions of person perception—that is, their perceptions of a follower’s competence and warmth—to shape the level of procedural justice they enact toward the follower. In support of our model, the results of a multisource organizational field study and a laboratory experiment show that leaders in unstable power positions enact procedural justice, particularly toward followers whom they perceive as highly competent but low in warmth. We discuss our findings in light of their implications for the justice and leadership literatures.

Procedural justice, position stability, person perception, competence, warmth, instrumentality
Journal of Organizational Behavior
Business-Society Management

Zheng, X, Schuh, S., de Cremer, D, & van Dijke, M.H. (2020). Procedural justice enactment as an instrument of position protection: The three-way interaction between leader’s power position stability, followers’ warmth, and followers’ competence. Journal of Organizational Behavior, in press. Retrieved from