Employees' emotional reactions to promotion decisions: The role of causal attributions and perceptions of justice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to highlight the interplay among promotion decision, emotions, and perceptions of organizational justice. Design/methodology/approach - The paper adopts Weiner's attribution theory of motivation and emotion, using it as a tool in the analysis. By using this framework, this paper analyses potential positive and negative emotional, and consequently, behavioral reactions of promoted and non-promoted employees. The analysis focuses on emotional reactions as a function of the cause and the process for the decision in question from the subjective perspective of the employee whose fate is determined by that decision. Findings - This paper suggests that the decision and the process of promotion can lead to the experience of a myriad of discrete emotional states. It contends that such emotional reactions are resulting from considerations of justice related to the perceived causes of the promotion decision and the process that lead to it. Originality/value - By integrating attribution theory of emotion and motivation with considerations of justice, this paper analyses the conditions that lead to specific emotions in employees who are promoted and non-promoted, showing that procedural and interactional justice serves as carriers of attributions (i.e. causal information).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-371
Number of pages21
JournalCareer Development International
Issue number4
StatePublished - 14 Aug 2009


  • Employee behaviour
  • Individual psychology
  • Justice
  • Promotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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