The 2004 amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines state that organizations should "create a culture that encourages ethical conduct and a commitment to comply with the law." This article presents data that show that procedural fairness—which concerns the objectivity and consistency of organizational procedures—is an essential component of such a culture. The data show that employees tend to believe that procedurally just organizations are legitimate. This belief in legitimacy, in turn, encourages them to act ethically and to comply with rules. This is a "market" approach to compliance because employees "buy in" to the organization, its values, and rules. Command-and-control approaches based on reward-and-punishment programs are significantly less effective, suggesting that rigid, rules-based approaches such as Sarbanes-Oxley are counter-productive. Procedural justice encourages employees to go beyond their job descriptions to create organizational value. This value creation aspect of procedural justice suggests a new role for ethics officers. Finally, this article includes an instrument organizations can use to measure their own level of procedural justice as well as a set of national benchmarks.
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