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This paper examines what happens when individuals who perceive a fair situation discover that the situation is in fact, unfair. In a previous study, women who sued their universities discussed their initial expectations that the university would treat them fairly despite several studies that clearly indicated discrimination at universities is still a problem (Goltz, 2005a). Thus, using interview excerpts from this past study, the current paper explores how these women's expectations of fairness may have been formed, as well as how they changed after a discriminatory experience. Results suggest that the women's expectations of fairness arose in part from three values emerging during childhood: hard work, education, and self-sufficiency. In addition, the interviews indicated the women moved from stage 5 of Kohlberg's model of moral development, where the belief is that justice can be negotiated in accepted social systems, to a belief that this may not always the case, but if enough people continue to pursue justice through accepted means, then the systems will eventually change. Implications of these results for research into models of moral development, psychological contracts, and organizational justice are discussed.

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© 2010 Journal of Business and Management. Article deposited here in compliance with publisher policies. Publisher’s version of record:

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Journal of Business and Management


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