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“Equality Theory” as a Counterbalance to Equity Theory in Human Resource Management

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  • David Morand

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  • Kimberly Merriman

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Abstract

This conceptual paper revisits the concept of equality as a base of distributive justice and contends that it is underspecified, both theoretically and in terms of its ethical and pragmatic application to human resource management (HRM) within organizations. Prior organizational literature focuses primarily upon distributive equality of remunerative outcomes within small groups and implicitly employs an equity-based conception of inputs to define equality. In contrast, through exposition of the philosophical roots of equality principles, we reconceptualize inputs as de facto equal and consider the systemic application of distributive equality in the form of status leveling practices. Ethical ramifications of distributive equality so viewed are explored. We conclude by arguing that, to implicitly insert a stronger ethics focus into the study and practice of HRM, perhaps there should be “equality theory” competing with equity theory for recognition in managerial and scholarly discourse. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • David Morand & Kimberly Merriman, 2012. "“Equality Theory” as a Counterbalance to Equity Theory in Human Resource Management," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 133-144, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:111:y:2012:i:1:p:133-144
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1435-y
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10551-012-1435-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Harry Buren & Michelle Greenwood, 2008. "Enhancing Employee Voice: Are Voluntary Employer–Employee Partnerships Enough?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 81(1), pages 209-221, August.
    2. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    3. Lars Lindblom, 2011. "The Structure of a Rawlsian Theory of Just Work," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 101(4), pages 577-599, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Heimann & Étienne Mullet & Jean-François Bonnefon, 2015. "Peoples’ Views About the Acceptability of Executive Bonuses and Compensation Policies," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 127(3), pages 661-671, March.
    2. repec:eee:jbrese:v:85:y:2018:i:c:p:226-237 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ryan, James Christopher, 2016. "Old knowledge for new impacts: Equity theory and workforce nationalization," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(5), pages 1587-1592.

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