Forgiveness Research

With the quantity and intensity of interpersonal conflicts being on the rise in companies, leaders are increasingly challenged with identifying solutions that will create cultural stability and positive working relationships (De Dreu and Gelfand, 2008).

In addition to disagreements between employees causing workplace conflict, individual perceptions of unfairness are another cause of emotional distress. Experiencing feelings of jealousy or envy due to perceptions of corporate unfairness can create emotional turmoil by poisoning the culture with negative attitudes (Bedeian, 1995). When employees experience the emotional states of betrayal, worthlessness, deceit, or aversion and do not use the appropriate coping mechanisms for managing these responses, organizations suffer the pains of these destructive mindsets. When conflicts between co-workers go unresolved, organizations can suffer from poor decision making, distraction from tasks and the erosion of communication between workgroups (Ren & Gray, 2009). “The most critical function of corporate culture is to generate commitment and enthusiasm among followers by making them feel that they are part of a ‘family’ and participants in a worthwhile venture” (Bratton, Grint, & Nelson, 2005, p. 51). Establishing healthy conflict resolution methods will assist in creating the desired shared commitment.

A workplace culture with a strong basis of forgiveness has the potential to “encourage employee retention, enhance innovative problem solving, promote profitability and facilitate flexibility” (Kearns, 2009, pp. 81-82). Other research indicates that forgiveness is “positively connected to physical health, life happiness, hope, and job satisfaction” (Kearns, 2009, p. 81). While forgiveness represents a promising solution to workplace discord, the process of implementing a culture built on the “shared perception that empathic, benevolent responses to conflict from victims and offenders are rewarded, supported, and expected in the organization” (Fehr & Gelfand, 2012, p. 665) represents a complex construct of change.

Do you think about forgiveness in your workplace?  Maybe you think of the opposite of forgiveness– stressful, hurtful, uncomfortable, difficult relationships….

As part of my PhD studies, I am collaborating on some research about FORGIVENESS in the WORKPLACE.   This survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, and may spark some interesting dialogue in your work group.  Let your voice be heard and be a part of this research study.  All of your information will be kept confidential but you also have the option of receiving a copy of the completed research.




Bedeian, A. G. (1995). Workplace envy. Organizational Dynamics, 23(4), 49-56.

Bratton, J., Grint, K., & Nelson, D. L. (2005). Organizational leadership. Mason, OH: South-Western.

De Dreu, C. K., & Gelfand, M. J. (Eds.). (2008). The psychology of conflict and conflict management in organizations. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Fehr, R., & Gelfand, M. J. (2012). The forgiving organization: A multilevel model of forgiveness at work. Academy of Management Review, 27(4), 664-688.

Karremans, J. C., Van Lange, P. M., & Holland, R. W. (2005). Forgiveness and its associations with prosocial thinking, feeling, and doing beyond the relationship with the offender. Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin, 31(10), 1315-1326.

Kearns, C. D. (2009). Forgiveness at work: Managing the dynamics and reaping the benefits. Leadership Review, 9, 80-90.

Ren, H., & Gray, B. (2009). Repairing relationship conflict: How violation types and culture influence the effectiveness of restoration rituals. Academy of Management Review, 34(1), 105-126.

Schein, E. H. (2004). Organizational culture and leadership (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.


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