Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 633–644 | Cite as

Fairness and the Main Management Theories of the Twentieth Century: A Historical Review, 1900–1965

  • Harry J. Van  BurenIII


Although not always termed “organizational justice,” the fairness of organizations has been a consistent concern of management thinkers. A review of the 1900–1965 time period indicates that management theorists primarily conceptualized organizational justice in utilitarian terms, although each theory emphasized distributive and procedural justice to different degrees. There is clearly a need for contemporary scholars to consider non-economic rationales for organizational justice, but the willingness of earlier scholars to make utilitarian arguments about organizational justice and productive efficiency helped legitimize the idea of fairness in organizations as an arbiter of value. Further, each theory tempered absolute managerial autonomy with some inherent check thereon. Researchers interested in organizational justice should therefore take a historical perspective in considering how management theory includes consideration of justice-related concerns.


management theory organizational justice scientific management administrative theory bureaucratic theory human relations human resources 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anderson Schools of ManagementUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueU.S.A.

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