The Subjectivity of Fairness: Managerial Discretion and Work–Life Balance

Gwen Daverth, Catherine Cassell, Paula Hyde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


We use organizational justice theory to examine how perceptions of fairness affect the decision-making process of line managers. In-depth interviews were conducted with 35 Irish managers to explore how managers make organizational allocation decisions in cases where it is impractical to offer work–life balance accommodations to all employees. The findings suggest that firstly, managers construct the ‘life’ aspect of work–life balance within a heteronormative framework, where the emphasis is on caregiving and most usually parenting. Secondly, managers actively use their decision-making powers around both formal and informal work–life balance supports to minimize injustice within their departments. By bringing together ideas about organizational justice and managerial decision-making, we indicate how managers determine fairness through a decision-making process narrowed by embedded gender role beliefs. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-109
Number of pages20
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number6
Early online date13 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


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