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Information, beliefs, and motivation: The antecedents to human resource attributions

Information, beliefs, and motivation: The antecedents to human resource attributions

Hewett, Rebecca, Shantz, Amanda and Mundy, Julia ORCID: 0000-0001-7970-3507 (2019) Information, beliefs, and motivation: The antecedents to human resource attributions. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 40 (5). pp. 570-586. ISSN 0894-3796 (Print), 1099-1379 (Online) (doi:

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Despite significant interest in the attributions employees make about their organization's human resource (HR) practices, there is little understanding of the antecedents of HR attributions. Drawing on attribution theory, we suggest that HR attributions are influenced by information (perceptions of distributive and procedural fairness), beliefs (organizational cynicism), and motivation (perceived relevance). We test a model through a two‐wave survey of 347 academic faculty in the United Kingdom, examining their attributions of the purpose of their institution's workload management framework. After two preliminary studies (an interview study and a cross‐sectional survey) to establish contextually relevant attributions, we find that fairness and cynicism are important for the formation of internal attributions of commitment but less so for cost‐saving or exploitation attributions. Fairness and cynicism also interact such that distributive fairness buffers the negative attributional effect of cynicism, and individuals are more likely to attribute fair procedures to external forces if they are cynical about their organization. This study furthers the application of attribution theory to the organizational domain while making significant contributions to our understanding of the HR‐performance process.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors. Journal of Organizational Behavior. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. A part of the special issue "The Third International Symposium on Attribution Theory".
Uncontrolled Keywords: distributive and procedural fairness, HR attribution theory, HR process, organizational cynicism, workload management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Accounting & Finance
Faculty of Business > Institute of Political Economy, Governance, Finance and Accountability (IPEGFA) > Centre for Governance, Risk & Accountability (CGRA)
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2020 14:06

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