Forgiveness at Work: Exploring the Relationship between Justice Ideologies and Forgiveness in the Workplace
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People cope with a variety of hurtful behaviors in the workplace. These actions can have detrimental emotional, relational, and task-related consequences. Forgiveness is one way to cope with these negative consequences. Although previous research examines how immediate situational factors such as offense severity and position in the organizational hierarchy influence the likelihood of practicing forgiveness in the workplace, little research investigates how contextual features such as an organization's conflict ideology shape the likelihood of forgiveness. The purpose of this study is to explore the influence of organizational context on the practice and patterns of forgiveness in the workplace. In particular, this study investigates the relationship between an organization's conflict ideology and employees' coping practices following hurtful events in the workplace. Using three court-based justice models as lenses, this study analyzes the emergence of conflict values, beliefs, norms, and practices in four organizations. This study uses data collected from 103 individual interviews, observational notes, and organizational documents from four organizations to explore the relationship between justice ideologies and the practice and patterns of forgiveness in each organization. Analysis of the data using a modified version of constructive grounded theory indicated the emergence of multiple conflict values, norms, and practices within each organization. These values, norms, and practices reflected features of the court-based legalistic and restorative justice models. The combination of these features suggested the presence of four ideological justice models. Forgiveness emerged most consistently as a coping practice in an organization that emphasized several features of the restorative justice model. Additionally, features of the organizations' justice ideologies influenced patterns of forgiveness. This research suggests that the practice of forgiveness in the workplace is grounded in the organizational context.
Paul, Gregory D. (2009). Forgiveness at Work: Exploring the Relationship between Justice Ideologies and Forgiveness in the Workplace. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from