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Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 137, Issue 4, pp 699–720 | Cite as

Facilitating Forgiveness in Organizational Contexts: Exploring the Injustice Gap, Emotions, and Expressive Writing Interventions

  • Laurie J. BarclayEmail author
  • Maria Francisca Saldanha
Article

Abstract

Despite the numerous benefits associated with forgiveness, many individuals find it difficult to forgive. This is especially true in organizations, where forgiveness is rare and can be under-valued. Across two studies, we explore how to facilitate forgiveness within organizational contexts and in the aftermath of workplace unfairness. We examine whether individuals can reduce the “injustice gap” that can be created by violations and enhance forgiveness through expressive writing interventions—guided writing techniques that can be self-administered. Participants wrote about their reactions to a fictional scenario (Study 1; N = 155) or an actual workplace experience (Study 2; N = 96). Results indicate that expressive writing was associated with higher reported perceived resolution. Whereas negative emotions mediated this relationship in Study 1, positive emotions and perceived injustice mediated this relationship in Study 2. Perceived resolution also mediated the relationship between expressive writing and forgiveness. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.

Keywords

Expressive writing Fairness Forgiveness Injustice gap Negative emotions Positive emotions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by grants awarded to the first (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; Ontario Early Researcher Award) and second author (Ontario Trillium Scholarship).

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business and EconomicsWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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