When is Criticism Not Constructive? The Roles of Fairness Perceptions and Attributions in Employee Rejection of Critical Supervisory Feedback

By Kwok LeungSteven K. SuMichael Morris
1998| Working Paper No. 1478

The effects of justice and dispositional attribution on reactions to negative supervisory feedback were examined in two studies. Study 1 showed that criticism delivered with greater interpersonal fairness resulted in more favorable dispositional attributions about the supervisor, more acceptance of the feedback, and more favorable reactions towards the superior and the organization. The beneficial influence of just treatment was general across various feedback contexts. Study 2 clarified the causal ordering: fair treatment reduced negative dispositional attribution, which in turn increased feedback acceptance and improved attitudes toward the supervisor. Study 2 also distinguished the consequences of perceived fairness in the formal procedures applied to forming the feedback, as opposed to interpersonal treatment during its delivery