Organizational justice, life
satisfaction, and happiness: the
mediating role of workplace
Ibrahim Sani Mert
Business Administration, Antalya Bilim Universitesi, Antalya, Turkey
NATO, Brussels, Belgium, and
Faculty of Business, Amman Arab University, Amman, Jordan
Purpose –Workplace social courage is a courageous behavior that can damage the actor’s social relationships,
social image and accrue face-loss costs. Sometimes, it is difficult to differentiate courageous behavior from
incivility that predicts higher levels of psychological distress. While workplace social courage is widely
discussed in the management literature, less is known about the conditions under which individuals are more
or less likely to exhibit courageous behaviors. Given the theoretical considerations, in the present study, the
authors consider two indicators of quality of life, which are life satisfaction and happiness, and set the aim of
the study as to investigate the relationships between organizational justice and two dimensions of quality of
life –life satisfaction and happiness –with particular attention to the mediation function performed by courage.
Design/methodology/approach –Cross-sectional survey data (n5408) were obtained from employees
working in Turkey Fortune companies and analyzed with variance-based structural equation modeling
Findings –The results showed that perceived organizational justice is a strong antecedent for workplace
social courage. Workplace social courage emerges as a facilitator for subjective happiness and life satisfaction.
Workplace social courage mediated the association between perceived organizational justice and subjective
happiness, and between perceived organizational justice and life satisfaction. Prescriptions for theory
development and practitioners are highlighted, research limitations and future directions are acknowledged.
Originality/value –So far, most of the work done in this subject is mainly in western countries, and it is
considered as a virtue, feature, emotion and behavior in the studies of social scientists, and mainly focused on
how employees need the courage to perform the desired behaviors that affect organizational outcomes
positively such as organizational citizenship behavior, job performance, job satisfaction, life satisfaction,
psychological well-being. Also, the authors studied how social courage positively relates to beneficial voice and
silence, as well as negatively relates to detrimental voice and silence, how courage is correlated with
psychological empowerment, coaching and how courage mediates on quality of life. As can be seen, there is
little empirical work when it comes to the antecedents of courage in business life. Therefore, this study, which
has been done with different variables in a different culture and country, aims to support and bring a new
breath to the subject. Besides, the mediating effect of courage on the organizational variables is also among the
Keywords Social courage, Organizational justice, Happiness, Life satisfaction, Non-western culture
Paper type Research paper
There are three virtues that philosophers throughout history have focused on, strive to
understand and try to discover the purpose of life in a sense by understanding the
relationship among them: justice, courage and happiness. It is an important responsibility for
social scientists, who should be today’s modern philosophers, to continue research on these
virtues. Therefore, discovering the importance of these virtues and the relationship among
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 10 February 2021
Revised 6 April 2021
4 May 2021
Accepted 15 May 2021
© Emerald Publishing Limited
them in today’s business life is a necessity of ensuring continuity in the flag race initiated by
social scientists and philosophers in the historical process, which aims to understand and find
the meaning of life.
Courage, beyond being seen as one of the basic virtues, has been accepted by some
philosophers as the protector or even a prerequisite of all other virtues (S
¸en and Mert, 2020).
It has been emphasized and experienced for 2,500 years ago that not only physical but also
moral and social courage have great importance, beyond physical courage. Studies on
courage, seen as the rediscovery of an old virtue, continue with increasing popularity in
recent years, particularly in management, and industrial–organizational psychology
(Howard and Holmes, 2020). However, it seems that there is a gap between theory and
practice in the area of courage, and although its importance is accepted by everyone, there is a
great need for empirical and practice-oriented courage studies.
So far, most of the work done in this subject is mainly in western countries, and emphasis
is placed on how employees need the courage to perform the desired behaviors that affect
organizational outcomes positively, such as organizational citizenship behavior (Howard
et al., 2017), job performance, job satisfaction, life satisfaction (Bockorny and Youssef-
Morgan, 2019;Koerner, 2014;Schilpzand et al., 2014), psychological well-being (Gustems and
Calderon, 2014). Also, we studied how social courage positively relates to beneficial voice and
silence as well as negatively relates to detrimental voice and silence (Howard and Holmes,
2020), how courage is correlated with psychological empowerment (Khoshmehr et al., 2020),
coaching (Wood, 2021) and how courage mediates on quality of life (Magnano et al., 2019). As
can be seen, there is little empirical work when comes to the antecedents of courage in
business life (Comer and Sekerka, 2018;Howard and Cogswell, 2019;Koerner, 2014;
Schilpzand et al., 2014).
Workplace social courage, the core element of the current study, is a courageous behavior
that can damage the actor’s social relationships, social image and accrue face-loss costs
(Howard et al., 2017). Sometimes, it is difficult to differentiate courageous behavior from
incivility that predicts higher levels of psychological distress (Al-Zyoud and Mert, 2019).
While workplace social courage is widely discussed in the management literature, less is
known about the conditions under which individuals are more or less likely to exhibit
courageous behaviors. Courageous behaviors generally emerge as doing and speaking the
right things. But, if doing the right thing does not have a negative consequence, everyone
would behave correctly. However, doing the right thing and speaking the truth can
sometimes cause negative consequences. Although it is not always the case, doing the right
thing can hurt the other person and, therefore, often requires taking a risk. If the individual
feels fair, he or she will feel more comfortable and able to say and do the right thing without
any hesitation. Justice, in this sense, emerges as a facilitator to say and do the right thing,
giving the individuals what they deserve, and telling the truth even if it has a tiny chance to
create a negative consequence. Therefore, individuals’risk-taking attempt and consequently
being courageous is related to the perception of justice in the working environment. As Cajete
(1994) states, “justice in human relations with each other and with the rest of nature is
dependent upon the transcendence of the illusion of discrete individuality—a justice that is
made possible through the experiences of wholeness.”Hence, employees who feel that they
work in a fair environment will be able to act more courageously and try to increase their
quality of life. Quality of life is a construct influenced by objective and subjective factors that
consist of the evaluation of functional, physical, social and emotional aspects of an individual
(Magnano et al., 2019). They considered life satisfaction and flourishing as indicators of the
quality of life.
As stated above, if an individual feels that he or she is in a fair environment, it relaxes him
or her and removes the feeling of anxiety. Then, in a fair environment, both happiness and life
satisfaction are expected to be positively affected. However, the perception of justice may not
appear in the same way for everyone. Therefore, it can be suggested that there is a clear need
for a mediating variable between the perception of justice and happiness. To be happy
depends on being fair, realistic and honest in our relationships. This is related to our respect
and honest behavior toward ourselves and others. If we do not do the right thing, do not tell
the truth, we cannot fulfill our respect for ourselves and our duty to justice, which is one of the
cardinal virtues. Social courage is needed to be happy in this situation. Courageous behavior
itself always demands doing the right thing and telling the truth all the time. Therefore, it is
not possible to be truly happy without being courageous. Even in the presence of justice,
being courageous always requires taking a risk in personal relationships. That justice can
lead to happiness can be realized with the courage of individuals. For justice to turn into
happiness, the mediation of courage is needed. True happiness cannot arise without
dedication, effort and struggle, which are the main features of being courageous. At the core
of courage, there lies action, self-sacrifice, taking risks to achieve an important and noble goal.
As can be seen, courage emerges as a diet of true happiness.
1.1 Purpose and objectives of the study
Given the theoretical considerations, in the present study, we consider two indicators of
quality of life, which are life satisfaction and happiness, and set the aim of the study as to
investigate the relationships between organizational justice and two dimensions of quality of
life –life satisfaction and happiness –with particular attention to the mediation function
performed by courage. Hence, the goal of this study is to review the relationships between
(1) organizational justice and workplace social courage, (2) workplace social courage and
subjective happiness, (3) workplace social courage and life satisfaction, respectively, to
determine the mediating role of workplace social courage between organizational justice and
two dimensions of quality of life. To do so, we first discuss the lay theory, which is basically
accepted as the foundation for studies investigating courage (Kapp and Scheele, 1996). Then,
we review organizational justice and workplace social courage, workplace social courage and
subjective happiness, workplace social courage and life satisfaction, respectively. This
process is followed by a study to determine the mediating role of workplace social courage
between organizational justice and two dimensions of quality of life. The following section is
a methodology, where information about sample and procedure, measures and demographic
breakdown is given. In the results section, measurement model assessment and structural
model assessment are discussed. Lastly, in the discussion and conclusion section, we explain
the underlying aspects, relations, consequences of our study, implications for theory and
management, limitations and how it can open new lines of practical use with future
2. Literature review
2.1 Lay theory and social courage
This study is grounded in the lay theory, which is based on the public elucidation of social
behavior (Kinman and Jones, 2005). The lay theory basically mirrors what people have in
their minds (Furnham, 1997). Besides, the theory put forward complex and multidimensional
phenomenon (Furnham, 1997), by explaining cause-and-effect relationships (Kinman and
Jones, 2005). According to the lay theory, happiness, subjective well-being, social support and
esteem stems from having close friends and loving parents and social networks (Campbell,
1976;Larson, 1978). Due to the lack of a common theoretical framework for courage (Howard
and Fox, 2020), researchers often use it to identify relationships that can develop more
sophisticated theoretical integrations (Howard and Fox, 2020;Kapp and Scheele, 1996). The
lay theory of courage tends to include all positive virtue with attribution of courage, and
courageous people have three important functions, which are enhancing, moral modeling and
protecting (Detert and Bruno, 2017;Kinsella et al., 2015).
Courage is defined as the quality of the mind enabling one to overcome fear or difficult
obstacles, in other words, overcoming the negative experience of fear with more positive
feelings (Schwartz, 2004). Woodard (2004) defines courage as the power to survive mentally
and morally in the face of fear, anxiety and difficulty. And, he defines the courageous person
as, despite feeling fear and anxiety in a situation threatening his existence, the person who
can do what is necessary. According to another definition, courage is an individual’s power
where he/she gets from his/her depths to achieve a virtuous conclusion (Sekerka and Bagozzi,
2007). The individual gets this power without being able to cope with the fear he/she feels. In
other words, this power, which comes from the foundation of existence, gives its first exam by
controlling the fear felt.
Courage has three dimensions, namely, physical, moral and social (Howard and Cogswell,
2019;Schilpzand, 2008). Physical courage is a courageous behavior that risks the actor’s
physical well-being, generally emerges in wartime and battles, and may not be relevant to the
day-to-day interactions of most people (Howard and Reiley, 2020;Howard et al., 2017;
Howard, 2019;Koerner, 2014;Schilpzand, 2008). Moral courage is the courage to act for moral
reasons despite the risk of adverse consequences and is believed to influence the day-to-day
life of most individuals (Sekerka and Bagozzi, 2007). Social courage is an act of courage in
which the risks involved are to the actor’s esteem in the eyes of others, and it is relevant and
important to the daily lives of most people (Howard and Cogswell, 2019). “Social courage
means not conforming to the expectations of others, being willing to show your true self even
if it means risking social disapproval or punishment. It means being able to express opinions
and preferences without checking to see if they are in line with everyone else’s opinions and
preferences”(Lion’s Whiskers, 2011). According to Howard and Holmes (2020), social courage
behaviors involve risking one’s social image and/or deteriorating his/her relationships in the
workplace. By having such different facets, courage has gained momentum with positive
Gould (2005) states that courageous behavior has three dimensions, namely, fear, proper
behavior and purpose. Kilmann et al. (2010) focused on the organizational features of
courageous behavior and identified them as follows: free choice, experience, risk, valuable
purpose, conscious behavior of the person despite the danger and fear. As can be seen, these
features show that courage involves emotion, cognition and action in which individual risks
harm in pursuit of a noble purpose.
2.2 Organizational justice and workplace social courage
Courage is closely related to risk-taking, which is among the components and/or antecedents
of courage (Mert, 2021;Comer and Sekerka, 2018;Howard and Cogswell, 2019;Koerner, 2014;
Schilpzand et al., 2014). Therefore, it will be easier to be courageous in environments where it
is easy to take risks (S
¸en and Mert, 2020). Doing the right thing may demand courage. Doing
the right thing is also doing what is fair. It will be easier to take risks in an environment of
justice. As discussed above, workplace social courage is a courageous behavior that can
damage the actor’s social relationships, social image and accrue face-loss costs (Howard et al.,
2017). According to the research conducted by Bashir et al. (2011), social courage is linked to
negative feedback giving, leading others effectively, organizational citizenship behaviors and
many other desirable work outcomes. The virtue of justice denotes excellence in determining
what is due to whom (Karches and Sulmasy, 2016). Employees’perceptions of justice may be
a result of their expectations, and the consequences of these expectations show themselves as
different organizational attitudes and behaviors (Shapiro and Kirkman, 2001), even at the
time of recruitment (Bell et al., 2006). Also, it was found that justice perceptions were
positively associated with intention to sabotage (Abubakar and Arasli, 2016), and negatively
associated with somatic complaints (Herr et al., 2018), workplace deviance (Abou Hashish,
2019) and emotional exhaustion (Dishon-Berkovits, 2018), which can be assumed as an
appropriate environment for the courage to emerge.
It is stated that the perception of injustice affects employees negatively and the perception
of justice affects employees positively (Totawar and Nambudiri, 2014;Thomas and
Nagalingappa, 2012). The lay theory shows that perceptions of benefits and risks are a
primary determinant of complex and multidimensional phenomenon (Furnham, 1997), and
goal-directed risky behaviors (Zhang et al., 2016), like workplace social courage behavior. In
other words, employees may habitually perform courageous behaviors because they
particularly value the benefits and/or devalue the risks involved (Brandst€
atter et al., 2016),
which is eventually a cause-and-effect relationship (Kinman and Jones, 2005). The positive
effect created by the perception that organizational justice exists has the potency to spill into
courage domain. Specifically, employees who are treated fairly may act in favor of the
organization (Barling and Philips, 1993), which we contend will be able to affect workplace
social courage behavior positively. Thus, in the light of the discussion, we propose the
H1. Organizational justice positively influence workplace social courage behavior.
2.3 Workplace social courage and subjective happiness
Individual happiness is contingent upon personality factors, socioeconomic conditions, social
relationships and health (Diener et al., 2018). A person with high levels of happiness
experiences positive emotions more frequently than negative emotions and evaluates his/her
life as satisfying. The literature has focused on many determinants of individual happiness,
except social courage. A courageous character is one that positively affects well-being/
happiness (Huber et al., 2020). Similarly, moral courage, which is accepted as a leading
characteristic of spiritually intelligent individuals, positively affects well-being (Vasconcelos,
2020). Recent studies have begun to examine the role of workplace social courage on
organizational outcomes, suggesting that courageous behaviors influence positive work
behavioral outcomes (Howard et al., 2017;Koerner, 2014). Besides, individuals with a high
level of courage are more likely to be motivated in reaching their goals and have less level of
fear (Magnano et al., 2019). Courage, beyond psychological capital, positively contributes to
psychological well-being and subjective well-being (Gustems and Calderon, 2014). The lay
theory provides psychological meanings to social interactions that aids individual behavior
and judgment about a situation. Hence, workplace social courage, which is a behavioral
dimension required in situations perceived as threatening, the capacity to react to situations
characterized by fear can strengthen the psychosocial resources (Magnano et al., 2019) and
improve subjective happiness. Thus, in the light of the discussion, we propose the following
H2. Workplace social courage behavior positively influence subjective happiness.
2.4 Workplace social courage and life satisfaction
Life satisfaction can be defined as a subjective component of quality of life and is considered
as the cognitive dimension of subjective well-being, and it takes place when an individual
cognitively assesses his or her current life meets his/her subjective standard (Schalock and
Felce, 2004). Most of the researchers assert that the strongest determinants of life satisfaction
are money, prestige, family, health or work (Diener et al., 1985). Bockorny and Youssef-
Morgan (2019) found out that entrepreneurs’courage is related to their life satisfaction, even
after accounting for various characteristics of the entrepreneur (demographics and human
capital) and the venture (venture size and survival). Recent studies revealed the positive
influence of courageous behaviors on work behavioral outcomes (Howard et al., 2017) such as
job and life satisfaction (Bockorny and Youssef-Morgan, 2019). The lay theory permit
individual to impart meaning and in making inferences about the social interactions and
phenomenon around us. In essence, workplace social courage strengthens psychosocial
resources (Magnano et al., 2019;Santisi et al., 2020), primarily because of its subjective nature
and assessments. We theorize that life satisfaction is a significant and meaningful courage
outcome. Thus, in the light of the discussion, the following hypothesis is developed:
H3. Workplace social courage behavior positively influence life satisfaction.
2.5 The mediating role of workplace social courage
Employees who think that they are treated fairly and act in favor of the organization (Barling
and Philips, 1993) will be able to affect workplace social courage behavior positively, which is
eventually translated into positive organizational outcomes, such as increased performance,
organizational commitment and organizational citizenship behaviors (Koerner, 2014). Past
studies documented that courage positively contributes to job and life satisfaction, as a
dimension of entrepreneurial success, and correlates positively with life satisfaction
(Bockorny and Youssef-Morgan, 2019), psychological well-being, subjective well-being
(Gustems and Calderon, 2014), life satisfaction (Santisi et al., 2020), personal identity and
prosocial behaviors (Howard et al., 2017;Koerner, 2014), and also strengthens psychosocial
resources (Magnano et al., 2019). Recent studies have shown that courage mediates the
relationship between career adaptability and life satisfaction in adolescents (Ginevra et al.,
2018), the relationship between personality and coping (Magnano et al., 2017), the relationship
between employability and quality of life (life satisfaction and flourishing), and the
relationship between meaningful work and quality of life (Magnano et al., 2019). Building on
previous research studies and the lay theory, we theorize that the effects of organizational
justice on subjective happiness and life satisfaction could be mediated by courage. Thus, in
the light of the discussion, we propose the following hypotheses:
H4. Workplace social courage behavior will mediate the relationship between
organizational justice and subjective happiness.
H5. Workplace social courage behavior will mediate the relationship between
organizational justice and life satisfaction.
3.1 Sample and procedure
To increase the generalizability of the study results in terms of modern work life, Turkey
Fortune 500–2018 companies were selected as the research universe. In particular, 340 out of
the 500 companies of Turkey Fortune 500 companies, which are based in Istanbul, Ankara,
Izmir and Bursa. These four cities are the biggest cities in Turkey, in which the researchers
live or can directly contact the companies. We selected a random sample of 50 companies out
of 340 and sent e-mails to the human resources (HR) departments of these companies, where
we explained the purpose of the research and shared the details of the questionnaire form, and
requested an appointment to ask for permission and support for data collection. Specifically,
21 out of 50 companies (three in travel and transportation, five in energy, four in construction,
two in textile, three in food, two in oil and derivatives production and distribution, and two in
information and communication services sectors) responded positively. By working in
coordination with HR personnel, online surveys were applied to 100 employees (a total of
2.100) who are, according to demographic factors, randomly selected to represent the whole of
It was emphasized that participation in the study would be entirely voluntary, and
personal data would certainly be protected and not be used anywhere else. Participants who
did not respond to the questionnaire within two weeks were sent a reminder e-mail again.
According to previous studies, the response rates to online surveys are fairly low (Baruch and
Holtom, 2008;Sheehan, 2001). The companies’HR personnel were asked if there was a
difference between this study’s response rate (468, an average of 22.3%) and the response
rates of the previous studies or not. They stated that the low response rates are not
extraordinary, and they did not find out any particular reason for that. Based on the extant
evidence, we concluded that the low response rates are not a major problem in this study.
The measures of this study are as follows:
Organizational justice –a tripartite construct with the following sub-dimensions:
distributive, procedural and interactive justice, was operationalized with the 18-item scale
from (Niehoff and Moorman, 1993), which is validated and widely used in the Turkish context
(Abubakar et al., 2019a,b). The measures of organizational justice were rated using a
five-point Likert scale (1 5strongly disagree; 5 5strongly agree).
Workplace social courage –was operationalized with an 11-item scale from Howard et al.
(2017). The measures of workplace social courage were rated using a seven-point Likert scale
(1 5strongly disagree; 7 5strongly agree).
Subjective happiness –was operationalized with a four-item scale (Lyubomirsky and
Lepper, 1999). Two items for measures of subjective happiness were rated using a seven-
point Likert scale (1 5strongly disagree; 7 5strongly agree) and the other two-items using a
seven-point Likert scale (1 5not at all; 7 5a great deal).
Life satisfaction –was operationalized with a five-item scale (Diener et al., 1985) and
adapted to the Turkish context by Mert et al.(2018) and Abubakar (2019). The measures of life
satisfaction were rated using a seven-point Likert scale (1 5strongly disagree;
3.3 Demographic breakdown
In total, 408 valid responses were obtained, 46.1% of these are male, and the rest female
employees. The majority of the employees (59.6%) are single, and 40.4% are married. About
56.4% of the participants are between 21 and 30 years, 27.9% are between 31 and 40 years,
10.3% are between 41 and 50 years, 4.4% are above 51 and the remaining 1% are less than 20
years. The educational level of the participants showed that 79.9% are university graduates,
14.2% have completed their master’s degrees, 5.4% are high school graduates and the rest
have doctorate degrees. Finally, 27.2% have less than one year organizational tenure, 34.6%
of the participants have between one and three years organizational tenure, 26.7% have more
than six years organizational tenure and the remaining 11.5% have between four and six
years organizational tenure.
4.1 Measurement model assessment
Recently, scholars (e.g. Hair et al., 2020;Schuberth et al., 2018) interchangeably refer to
confirmatory composite analysis (CCA) as measurement model evaluations in variance-based
structural equation modeling (VB-SEM). CCA mirrors analytical activities aimed at
confirming measurement models in VB-SEM. The current study measures are reflective
measured constructs; to assess the psychometric properties, we retained items with
standardized factor loadings greater than 0.500 and t-statistics greater than ±1.960. This led
to the exclusion of one item each from the subjective happiness and life satisfaction scale, and
two items each from the organizational justice and workplace social courage. The composite
constructs’average variance extracted (AVE) is the average variance explained per factor/
construct; our estimation delineates that the research constructs’AVE values were greater
than the 0.500 threshold (Hair et al., 2017).
Two, we assess each construct’s reliability using three indicators, namely, Cronbach’s
), Dijkstra–Henseler’s rho (
oreskog’s rho (
c). All the constructs’reliability
indicators were above the widely accepted thresholds of 0.700, 0.700 and 0.700, respectively
(Henseler et al., 2015). Three, the squared inter-construct correlations between the constructs
under investigation were below the AVE values per the Fornell–Larcker criterion (Fornell
and Larcker, 1981). The heterotrait-monotrait ratio of correlations (HTMT) exhibited by the
constructs was also below the threshold of 0.900, which further substantiates discriminant
validity (Henseler et al., 2015). In light of the above-established criterion, we concluded that
reliability, convergent and discriminant validity have been established. See Tables 1–3for
4.2 Structural model assessment
In this section, the proposed hypotheses were assessed. VB-SEM relies on bootstrapping
resamples to generate the bias-corrected and accelerated (BCa) bootstrap confidence
Constructs 1 2 3 4
Organizational justice 0.548
Workplace social courage 0.049 0.468
Subjective happiness 0.039 0.159 0.682
Life satisfaction 0.049 0.073 0.291 0.738
Note(s): Values below the diagonal are squared inter-construct correlations for the Fornell–Larcker criterion;
values in italic are construct-specific AVE values
Organizational justice 0.963 0.950 0.947 0.548
Workplace social courage 0.870 0.887 0.858 0.468
Subjective happiness 0.796 0.863 0.759 0.682
Life Satisfaction 0.938 0.918 0.885 0.738
oreskog’s rho; AVE 5average variance
Constructs 1 2 3 4
Organizational justice –
Workplace social courage 0.191 –
Subjective happiness 0.215 0.471 –
Life satisfaction 0.253 0.275 0.613 –
Note(s): Values below the diagonal are HTMT correlation ratios
using HTMT ratios
intervals. The resample was based on 4,999 bootstrap runs to assess the significance level of
the tested hypotheses (Henseler et al., 2015). According to Figure 1, organizational justice is
found to produce a significant and positive effect on workplace social courage (β50.222,
< 0.001). Workplace social courage is found to produce a significant and positive
effect on subjective happiness (β50.399, t59.916,
< 0.001) and life satisfaction (β50.270,
< 0.001). Consequently, the hypothesized indirect effects were assessed following
Zhao et al. (2010) guidelines. The results showed that organizational justice has an indirect
effect on subjective happiness (β50.089, t54.204,
< 0.001) and life satisfaction (β50.059,
< 0.001) through workplace social courage.
The coefficient of determination R-squared (R
) is useful for determining the strength of a
linear relationship between two or more constructs. In other words, the percentage of
variation in the dependent construct explained by an independent construct. The structural
model in Figure 1 explains 4.9% of the variance for workplace social courage (R
Furthermore, workplace social courage explains 15.9% of the variance for subjective
50.159), 7.3% for life satisfaction (R
50.073). These coefficients of
determination represent moderate predictive power (Hair et al., 2016). Cohen’sf
, also known
as effect size, is a measure that shows the size of the effects of an independent variable on a
dependent variable. According to Cohen’s (2013) guidelines, f
≥0.350 represent small, medium and large effect sizes, respectively. The results in Table 4
show that the effect sizes of the structural model ranged from 0.052 to 0.079; thus, we can
conclude that they have small to moderate effect sizes. In light of the above results, H1,H2,H3,
H4 and H5 were supported.
R2 = 0.073
R2 = 0.159
R2 = 0.049
Organizational justice ––
Workplace social courage 0.049 0.052
Subjective happiness 0.159 0.189
Life satisfaction 0.073 0.079
5coefficient of determination f
5Cohen’s effect size
5.1 Summary of findings
It is obvious that the discussions and searches on justice, courage and happiness since the
first philosophers in the historical process are still fresh and valid. As social scientists, we
aimed to understand the relationship among these concepts and virtues, which constitutes
most today’s business life, and would like to transfer them to theory and practice. In this
context, courage has a great effect on happiness and life satisfaction, and justice is identified
as an important antecedent of courage. As a result, the effects of perceived organizational
justice on social courage, social courage on happiness and life satisfaction, and the mediating
role of courage were tested.
As H1 (organizational justice positively influences workplace social courage behavior)is
supported, it brings the truth to daylight that if the employees have the perception that
organizational justice exists, their workplace social courage will be influenced positively. In
other words, the results showed that perceived organizational justice is a strong antecedent
for workplace social courage. The findings are consistent with the lay theory, as individuals
use their cognitions to process and interact in a given situation. More subtly, organizational
justice helps individuals in processing their moral judgment and social interaction, which
results in social courage. This is also a great starting point to think about how to influence
organizational outcomes positively by using organizational justice and workplace social
Recent studies (Bockorny and Youssef-Morgan, 2019;Gustems and Calderon, 2014;
Howard et al., 2017;Koerner, 2014;Magnano et al., 2019;Santisi et al., 2020) have begun to
examine the role of workplace social courage on organizational outcomes, suggesting that
courageous behaviors influence positive work behavioral outcomes. In this context, our
findings support H2 (workplace social courage behavior positively influences subjective
happiness) and H3 (workplace social courage behavior positively influences life satisfaction),
which clearly state that workplace social courage emerges as a facilitator for an individual’s
subjective happiness and life satisfaction. The findings are consistent with the lay theory, as
individuals use their social courage to help individuals in increasing their subjective
happiness and life satisfaction. This also points out the need for having organizational justice
in the workplace and letting employees have and show workplace social courage.
Since some of the recent previous studies (Ginevra et al., 2018;Gustems and Calderon,
2014;Howard et al., 2017;Koerner, 2014;Magnano et al., 2107,2019;Santisi et al., 2020) have
shown that courage mediates the relationship between career adaptability and life
satisfaction, and also it mediates the relationship between personality and coping, it
triggers the idea that workplace social courage can play the role of mediator between
organizational justice and subjective happiness and life satisfaction. In this context, our
findings support H4 (workplace social courage behavior will mediate the relationship between
organizational justice and subjective happiness) and H5 (workplace social courage behavior will
mediate the relationship between organizational justice and life satisfaction), which clearly
show that organizational justice and workplace social courage are great contributors to
improve positive organizational outcomes, and workplace social courage is a mediator
between perceived organizational justice and subjective happiness, and between perceived
organizational justice and life satisfaction. Similar to our study, two past studies found that
courage increases life satisfaction, and courage has a mediating role in the relationship
between self-perceived employability and life satisfaction, meaningful work and life
satisfaction (Manago et al., 2019). While, the latter study found that courage does not have a
mediating role in the relationship between psychological capital and life satisfaction (Santisi
et al., 2020). The present study extends these inconclusive findings and also expand the line of
argument by including happiness into the equation. Our findings have theoretical and
practical implications for managers and organizations.
5.2 Implications for theory
Despite the enormous effort made to identify strategies to boost workplace courage and/or to
identify key employee traits that determine workplace courage and resultant work outcomes,
little research attention has focused on justice climate. The present research contributed both
theoretically and conceptually to the workplace courage research stream by introducing
justice climate as a potential predictor, happiness and life satisfaction as outcomes.
According to the findings obtained within the scope of the research, it is seen that social
courage plays a mediating role in the effect of organizational justice on happiness and life
satisfaction. In this context, besides the research studies that determine the effects of courage
on some organizational outcome variables in the literature (Bockorny et al., 2019;Howard
et al., 2017;Howard and Holmes, 2020;Gustems and Calderon, 2014;Khoshmehr et al., 2020;
Koerner, 2014;Magnano et al., 2019;Schilpzand et al., 2014), it is important that this research
shows the power of courage as being a mediator variable in business life and the relationships
between organizational justice and outcome variables (life satisfaction and happiness); in
essence, it has contributed to this line of research. This research has extended the concept of
courage in a non-western culture, which provides theoretical developments from a cultural
point of view (Arun et al., 2021).
In a similar study, Joshanloo (2019, p. 2) stated according to lay conceptions of happiness;
“Yet a central theme to inclusive happiness is the notion that our happiness depends on
things other than ourselves, and thus changing our level of happiness would be a collective
project which requires the involvement of others. In other words, changing one’s level of
happiness would depend on the broader context of one’s actual and symbolic relationships
with the non-self.”Past findings on the mediating role of courage appears to be inconsistent
(Joshanloo, 2019;Manago et al., 2019;Santisi et al., 2020). Our findings contributed to the
literature by highlighting the possible mediating role of courage based on the lay theory
assumptions. More subtly, we contribute to the development of the lay theory. Past work that
built on the lay theory to investigate workplace courage were mostly in non-western context
and countries; our work contributed to theory by interrogating the applicability of theory
developed in the western world. The variables examined in this study are interdisciplinary
subjects that are scrutinized in different disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, ethics,
sociology, religion, etc. In this context, it is thought that the research findings can shed light
on different disciplines.
5.3 Implications for management
The present study has valuable practical and managerial implications. In their previous
work, Lucas et al. (2012) found that individual-level beliefs for justice for both selves, and
others were more strongly associated with life satisfaction at the macro level. For this reason,
happiness and life satisfaction in business life play a big role in determining and shaping
employee welfare. In organizations with justice climate, employees are able to take risks, say
or do things rightly and morally, irrespective of the repercussions and potential ripple effects
that may arise due to courageous acts courageous. The message of this paper to managers is
that organizational justice climate enables the emergence of social courage; thus, managers
and administrators should pay attention and ensure the provision of justice. In this context,
employees should be encouraged to increase their social courage through increased justice
climate and practices. The practical importance of social courage identified as an
intermediary variable in this research can be better understood in two episodic processes:
(1) that spans from justice to workplace courage and to happiness, while (2) the other episode
spans from justice to workplace courage and to life satisfaction. In this context, the findings of
this research contain valuable recommendations for managers who are provides the
necessary foundation for increased employees happiness and life satisfaction. It is important
and necessary for managers to create a fair environment to have happy employees, the
necessity of social courage of employees should be known and reflected in practice to
transform this justice into happiness and life satisfaction.
The contribution of social courage to society, examined in this study, will also manifest
itself in the relationship between cybernetics and courage. In the study where he discussed
courage from a cybernetic viewpoint, MacGill (2013, p. 1,424) stated that “The dominant
paradigms of the world today are reductionist and linear, and have led us towards crises in
the environment, economics, health and more. Cybernetics is one alternative paradigm, which
moves beyond reductionist thought. A cybernetic worldview enables us to see ourselves as
partners in dynamic co-creative processes reaching beyond dualities. To live by such a life
requires courage.”In the same study, he also pointed out that “Having the courage to
acknowledge our interconnectedness leads us reassess our relationship to the world and all
the day-to-day decisions we make”(MacGill, 2013, p. 1,427). Hence, he tried to show how to
integrate cybernetic principles into the individual life on daily life. As Maltz (1960, p. 118)
stated in his book titled “Psycho-Cybernetics,”“You must daily have the courage to risk
making mistakes, risk failure, risk being humiliated,”which has valuable practical and
5.4 Limitations and future research direction
This paper enriches the current state-of-the-art knowledge regarding the antecedents and
consequences of workplace social courage research. This study has relied on exhaustively
renowned statistical approaches to scrutinize the research model. Nevertheless, several
issues need to be considered while interpreting the findings. First, the data emerged from a
single source and responses are self-reported; even though efforts were directed to remove the
adverse effects, there is a tendency that the findings might have been affected. Future studies
can adopt a longitudinal experiment or multi-source data. Second, the use of a mixed-method
approach (Leong et al., 2020;Yakubu et al., 2020), fuzzy sets (Kaya et al., 2020) and artificial
intelligence techniques (Abubakar, 2019) may provide incremental causational evidence.
Third, even though our findings are limited to a few variables, we believe that the findings
will guide future research efforts concerning the antecedents and consequences of workplace
social courage. Fourthly, this study did not capture the position, income level of the
participants, we believe that this can influence workplace social courage. Also, the study
excluded some of the key sectors such as banking, finance, health care, etc. due to its universe.
Future studies are encouraged to address the limitations. Finally, a fruitful area includes the
nature of effects (i.e. positive or negative, see Behravesh et al., 2020) that high-performance
work systems would exert on courage. It would be interesting to examine the association
between high performance work system (HPWS) and workplace courage. Past work did not
only document the potential interdependence between HPWS and future time perspective
(FTP), but also called for more research on antecedents of FTP (Abubakar et al., 2019a,b). In
lieu of this, we suggest that future work should examine the association between workplace
courage and FTP alongside other potential antecedents and outcomes.
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utsel adalet / Organizational justice
¸imle ilgili karar verirken bana saygılıveya onurumu koruyucu sekilde davranır. / When decisions
are made about my job. the general manager treats me with kindness and consideration
¸imle ilgili karar verirken kis
¸isel ihtiyaçlarıma duyarlılıkg
osterir. / When decisions are made about
my job, the general manager is sensitive to my personal needs
¸imle ilgili karar verirken bana d€
ustçe davranır. / When decisions are made about my job, the
general manager deals with me in a truthful manner
¸imle ilgili karar verirken çalısan olarak bana haklarımla ilgili saygıduymaktadır. / When decisions
are made about my job, the general manager shows concern for my rights as an employee
¸imle ilgili karar verirken benimle verilecek kararların etkisini tartıs
¸ır. / Concerning decisions made
about my job, the general manager discusses the implications of the decisions with me
¸imle ilgili karar verirken yeterince Kabul edilebilir sebeplerini de sunar. / The general manager
offers adequate justification for decisions made about my job
¸imle ilgili karar verirken bana is
¸im ile ilgili mantıklıaçıklamalarda bulunur. / When making
decisions about my job, the general manager offers explanations that make sense to me
¸imle ilgili herhangi bir karar verildi
ginde gerekli açıklamalarda bulunur. / My general manager
explains very clearly any decision made about my job
¸ma programım oldukça adildir. / My work schedule is fair
¸imle ilgili olarak aldı
ucretin adil oldu
uyorum. / I think that my level of pay is fair
un oldukça adil oldu
uyorum. / I consider my workload to be quite fair
ul ve ikramiyelerin oldukça adil oldugunu d€
uyorum. / Overall, the rewards I receive here are
¸sorumluluklarımın adil oldu
uyorum. / I feel that my job responsibilities are fair
onetici tarafından verilen is
uphe uyandırmaz. / Job decisions are made by the general manager in
an unbiased manner
Karar almadan €
¸anların fikir ve d€
¸vurulur. / My general manager makes sure that all
employee concerns are heard before job decisions are made
¸kararlarıkesin ve tam bilgi toplandıktan sonra verilir. / To make job decisions, my general manager collects
accurate and complete information
oneticiler, çalısanların talep etmesi durumunda gerekli bilgileri verirler. / My general manager clarifies
decisions and provides additional information when requested by employees
oneticiler tarafından verilen kararlara kars
¸ıolma veya onay verme konusunda serbesttirler. /
Employees are allowed to challenge or appeal job decisions made by the general manager
¸Yerinde Sosyal Cesaret / Workplace social courage
gımızızedeleyecek olsa bile, çalıs
¸ey yaparsa y€
Although it may damage our friendship, I would tell my superior when a coworker is doing something
gınıbilsem dahi, ona is
¸lerin daha iyi yapılmasına y€
onerilerde bulunurum. /
Although my coworker may become offended, I would suggest to him/her better ways to do things
Aptalca bir soru olarak algılanaca
gınıbilsem dahi, is
gım bir s
¸eyi sorarım. / If I thought a question
was dumb, I would still ask it if I did not understand something at work
¸larım hakkımda olumsuz d€
unse dahi, bas
¸arısızlık ihtimali olan bir is
Even if my coworkers could think less of me, I would lead a project, with a chance of failure
gınıbilsem de, onun bas
¸ka birisine kaba davranmasına m€
usammaha etmem. /
I would not tolerate when a coworker is rude to someone, even if I make him/her upset
¸lanmasa dahi, s
¸irket/kurum politikasına aykırıbir s
¸ey yaparlarsa ikaz
ederim. / Despite my subordinate disliking me, I would tell him/her when they are doing something against
The items of the scales
(Turkish and English)
Cem Sen can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website:
Or contact us for further details: email@example.com
Çok negatif birisi oldu
uneceklerini bilsem dahi, çalıs
¸le ilgili birs
gumu bilmelerini isterim. / I would let my coworkers know when I am concerned about something, even
if they would think I am too negative
¸kimizi tamamen zedeleyecek olsa bile, bir astım/çalıs
¸larıyla birlikte çalıs
ahengi bozuyorsa, onun €
une giderim. / Even if it may damage our relationship, I would confront a
subordinate who had been disrupting their workgroup
Beni beceriksiz, yetersiz g€
osterecek olsa bile, çalıs
¸larıma isle ilgili yanlıs
oylerim. / Although it makes me look incompetent, I would tell my coworkers when I’ve made a mistake
unde yetersiz g€
gimi bilsem dahi, is
¸yerinde bir sunum yapmak için g€
u olurum. /
Despite appearing dumb in front of an audience, I would volunteer to give a presentation at work
gımızıtamamen zedeleyecek olsa bile, bir çalıs
geri bildirim veririm. / Although it may completely ruin our friendship, I would give a coworker an honest
Mutluluk / Subjective Happiness
Genellikle kendimi mutlu bir insan olarak g€
um. / In general, I consider myself a very happy person
Kendimi akranlarımla kıyasladı
gımda daha mutlu g€
uyorum. / Compared with most of my peers, I consider
myself more happy
Bazıinsanlar genellikle çok mutludur. Olan bitene aldırmadan, ço
¸ında kalarak hayatan zevk alırlar.
Bu durumun size uygunlu
guna ne derece katılırsınız? / Some people are generally very happy. They enjoy life
regardless of what is going on, getting the most out of everything. To what extent does this characterization
Bazıinsanlar genellikle çok mutlu de
gildir. Canlarıçok sıkkın, bunalımda olmasalarda onlarıçok mutlu
oremezsiniz. Bu durumun size uygunlu
guna ne derece katılırsınız? / Some people are generally not very
happy. Although they are not depressed, they never seem as happy as they might be. To what extent does this
characterization describe you?
¸am Tatmini / The satisfaction with life scale
Ideallerime yakın bir hayatım var. / In most ways, my life is close to my ideal
ukemmeldir. / The conditions of my life are excellent
Hayatımdan memnunum. / I am satisfied with my life
¸imdiye kadar hayattan istedi
¸eylere sahip oldum. / So far, I have gotten the important things
I want in life