Does Changing the Rules Really Matter? Assessing Procedural Justice Perceptions under Civil Service Reform

Source: Ellen V. Rubin and Stephen E. Weinberg, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Advance Access, First published online: November 30, 2014
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From the abstract:
Civil service reforms over the last four decades have sought to provide new flexibilities to managers, particularly in relation to performance management. Reforms undertaken by many US states are consistent with this trend. State employees report these managerial flexibilities are decreasing perceptions of fairness. At the federal level, personnel reforms in the US Department of Defense also sought to increase managerial discretion. Defense identified employee perceptions of fairness as key to the successful implementation of the system. This study examines changes in fairness perceptions in response to civil service reforms at Defense in three distinct ways. First, procedural justice perceptions are examined before, during, and after repeal of the personnel reforms. Second, we consider whether the procedural justice perceptions of employees and managers are different over the time periods. Procedural justice research includes few studies controlling for managerial status, despite early arguments that position in the organization is likely to change fairness assessments. Third, the use of control groups allows us to consider if changes in procedural justice perceptions are due to the personnel reforms or reflect governmentwide trends. US Office of Personnel Management surveys covering a 10-year period are analyzed using a difference-in-differences-in-differences model. Results indicate that manager and employee perceptions of procedural justice are different over the time period, these perceptions change in different ways in response to the reforms, and the observed changes are unique from governmentwide trends.