The fairness of affi rmative action: In the eye of the beholder

  • M Coetzee
  • M Bezuidenhout
Keywords: affi rmative action, distributive justice, procedural justice, interactional justice, employment equity, equality, discrimination


The purpose of this study was to identify the major components of
affi rmative action (AA) fairness from an organisational justice point
of view and to measure the perceptions of employees on AA fairness.
9A literature study and an empirical study were conducted. A questionnaire was developed to collect information on respondents’ biographical details and their perceptions of the fairness of AA. 10Using SPSS, principal axis factor analysis was performed on the data, with a Varimax rotation, in order to uncover the diff erent factors related to affi rmative action fairness. Four factors with latent roots greater than unity (Kaiser’s criteria) were extracted from the factor matrix of affi rmative action. The factors postulating affi rmative action fairness included interactional justice, procedural justice (input), procedural justice (criteria) and distributive justice. 11The infl uence and eff ect of the biographical variables on fairness perceptions were determined by comparing the responses of various employee subsets with one another by means of univariate and
multivariate analysis of variance. The results of the t-tests revealed
that staff category and ethnicity have a statistically signifi cant
eff ect on employees’ perceptions of the distributive justice of AA.
Decisions such as granting AA employees token positions, paying
unrealistically high salaries to AA managers and appointing lessqualifi
ed AA employees play a key role when employees form perceptions of the fairness of AA. This study contributes to a better understanding of the dimensionality of employee perceptions of AA fairness. It should assist organisations with the knowledge required for more eff ective management of AA in the workplace.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1998-8125
print ISSN: 1561-896X