Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Robert Hammond, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Richard Will, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lisa Gaynor, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Townsend, DBA


Performance Appraisal Satisfaction, Justice Perceptions, Knowledge Work


Organizational justice theory suggests employees are more likely to accept appraisal outcomes if they believe the process to be fair. As an increasing percentage of the workforce is made up of knowledge workers with job characteristics that are less structured and more autonomous, the shift in appraisal research from measurement accuracy to perceptions on fairness is fitting. This research investigates the relationships between justice perceptions and performance appraisal satisfaction by knowledge workers. The study extends previous research with the creation of composite measures to examine whether perceptions of fairness vary according to the characteristics of work performed.

The research was conducted at a medium-sized, niche consultancy that specializes in data analytics and data science. Interviews served as an initial pilot study to obtain contextual data to identify relevant justice measures in the procedural and informational justice domains. A questionnaire survey was selected to analyze whether knowledge work characteristics moderate the relationship between justice perceptions on appraisal satisfaction.

Results support the underlying premise that positive justice perceptions lead to greater overall appraisal satisfaction. Median regressions were used to model the significant effect of procedural justice and informational justice on appraisal satisfaction. Consistent with prior research, the most autonomous workers reported the lowest levels of appraisal satisfaction. This may be explained by the heightened challenge in evaluating autonomous work that is not observed directly and may be difficult to measure.

However, the moderating effect of knowledge work components produced some puzzling results. As expected, the knowledge work component of autonomy correlated negatively with the knowledge work components related to structure. Yet, autonomy and structure had similar moderating effects on the relationship between procedural justice and appraisal satisfaction. Although it was speculated that more autonomous workers would place less importance on procedural justice, the results indicated greater levels of autonomy strengthened the effects between the justice perceptions and appraisal satisfaction.

Justice theory as it is applied to appraisal satisfaction is limited without considering the impacts on other constructs such as job satisfaction and motivation. Herzberg’s two-factor (hygiene) theory provides an example of how knowledge work components and procedural justice might be viewed as job “satisfiers” versus job “dissatisfiers”. The theory posits there are factors that contribute to job satisfaction that are separate and distinct from factors that contribute to dissatisfaction. "Satisfiers” include factors such as autonomy and achievement. In contrast, performance appraisals represent administrative processes within the category of “dissatisfiers”, or hygiene factors. When absent, these processes cause frustration and result in dissatisfaction.

Practical implications from this study include the creation of composite measures for describing the abstract nature of latent measures such as justice perceptions and knowledge work. These measures serve as a heuristic to facilitate the analysis of human resource processes such as performance management.