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

Gwen Daverth*, Catherine Cassell, Paula Hyde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 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)89-107
Number of pages19
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Family-friendly policies
  • Gender role beliefs
  • Managerial decision-making
  • Managerial discretion
  • Organizational justice
  • Work-life balance


Dive into the research topics of 'The Subjectivity of Fairness: Managerial Discretion and Work-Life Balance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this