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Fundamentals of Management: Adams' Equity Theory

As you know, to study the work of the entire system, you need to study its individual elements. So, a firm or an enterprise is a large system, the effectiveness of which directly depends on the return of each employee. But how to motivate employees to work qualitatively? What determines the unwillingness of a person to do the work with full dedication?

The justice theory of John Adams describes an interesting look at this issue. It states that in addition to the proportion of the work / reward, there are also external appraisal links in relation to other employees. Adams' justice theory is the view of an American psychologist deep into the thinking of a particular worker.

The main theses of the theory of justice

The question of the subjective reasons for the desire or unwillingness of a person to work at a certain level was studied by John Stacy Adams. The theory of justice, which he developed by examining the behavior of people and working conditions at one of the US enterprises, "General Electric", is devoted to assessing equity from the perspective of the employee.

Adams' theory of justice says that a person is inclined to compare remuneration for work (result) and efforts that he makes (contribution). In this case, the employee compares similar indicators with other employees, making a conclusion about the fairness of their remuneration. Depending on how satisfied the person is with the result of his observations, he models his behavior in the workplace.

Adams' justice theory briefly demonstrates the main cause-and-effect relationships in employee motivation. Which arises as a reaction to the ratio of the contribution and result of an individual worker in comparison with the contribution and result of other employees.

The essence of the concepts of contribution and result

To work with the calculation part, it is necessary to concretize the basic concepts with which the justice theory of J. Adams works:

  • The contribution is the efforts and skills that the employee applies to the work. This includes experience, skill, education and personal characteristics such as initiative, intelligence, agility, communication skills, etc.
  • The result is a reward for work, which includes simple elements: monetary reward, bonuses, benefits, social package, etc., as well as elements of higher order: satisfaction from work, the presence of diverse and interesting tasks, the realization of altruistic needs, power And recognition.

The employee intuitively understands and accepts the fact that a more experienced and qualified employee should be rewarded with a larger salary. It also refers to the fact that an employee in a megacity and an employee in a small town may have different pay and conditions.

Who is the dearest in the world?

Comparing these indicators with yourself and other people doing similar work, a person draws certain conclusions. Adams' theory of justice shows that everything depends on how satisfied the person is with this comparative analysis. In other words, the employee's motivation depends on how fair he sees his position.

The question is with whom the person compares himself - with the employees of his own firm or other firms in the city, the country, or maybe with friends? Adams' theory of justice describes basically the comparison of a person with people of a similar position and type of work. Sometimes the comparison takes place in the plane of works of a different nature, where a person subjectively assesses the complexity of labor and payment.

Justice for Adams

The theory of equality (justice) S. Adams gives the following definition: "justice is a subjective parameter and depends on the perception of reality by a concrete worker".

Everyone has his own level of receptivity to such a subjective concept as justice, sometimes simply realizing that "it is necessary" or "what to do, someone must do this work". Everyone has his own comfort zone, which he defines as fair. Some people prefer "equalization", others want to be a step higher than others, and others - a step below.

Equity formula

Yes, in such a subjective concept as justice, there is a formula, which operates the theory of justice of John Adams. Of course, it does not describe the concept of universal justice, but justice from the point of view of the worker.

As you can see, the very essence of the matter is very subjective, but it is inevitable if we consider such concepts as motivation, which describes the theory of justice Adams. Briefly, the validity can be described using formula

Result of employee / Worker contribution = Result of other workers / Contribution of other workers

Equality of the left and right half of the equation can be called a point of justice. This will mean that the employee sees his reward for the contribution to work as fair. This means that he will continue to show the same returns in his work, performing it at the same level. Otherwise, he will regard his position as unfair - with insufficient remuneration or as an overpayment - with an excess of remuneration.

Reaction to injustice

If you compare yourself with others according to the above formula, a person will make a conclusion about injustice, then this inevitably follows a decrease in his motivation. So believed Stacy Adams, whose theory of justice identifies six possible scenarios. One or more of these options can choose a person as a response to injustice:

  1. Reduction of one's own efforts, unwillingness to give out "for pennies";
  2. The requirement to increase pay or working conditions;
  3. Requirement of the enterprise to equalize other employees by changing the payment and the load;
  4. A decrease in self-esteem as a result of an unfair assessment of him as an employee;
  5. A choice for comparing another object, if the irrationality of the comparison is obvious or the reason "where do I compare with them";
  6. Attempt to change the unit or place of work;

In addition, Adams admitted that it is also possible for the employee to reassess his contribution and results. Simply put, a person can justify in his perception of payment, working conditions and shift his opinion towards balance. But still a lot of good specialists prefer to find a more decent payment for their work.

Reaction to increased remuneration

Situations with excessive remuneration, although more rare, but also occur and have their own nuances. In such a situation, it does not matter what method of payment is used:

  • Piece-rate payment involves payment for the amount of work performed. If an employee marks an overpayment for his work, he is inclined to do less and better quality than the one who is paid fairly.
  • The hourly rate or rate assumes that the payment is not tied to the volume. When overpaid, the employee will produce either more or better quality than the one who is paid fairly.

It can be seen that the overpayment on the transaction is fraught with a decrease in the speed of work, which may be undesirable. And although there is an increase in quality, but in the case of a low qualification in comparison with payment, an increase in quality at a significant level is not foreseen.

The task is to return the balance

It should be borne in mind that the list of subjective reasons considered is rather narrow, because in fact a person estimates many more factors. The main task of the head in time to respond to the reduction in motivation of employees or too high reward for their efforts.

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