Forgiveness in work relationships – Dissertation KLI-alumnus Wenrui Cao

How can employees maintain a happy and healthy working life with good and stable work relationships in the face of workplace conflict? Forgiveness might be a way to address this challenge.

In her PhD-dissertation, which she will defend on November 16 at Utrecht University,  Wenrui Cao focuses on the causes and consequences of forgiveness in work relationships.

Forgiveness in work relationships is associated with better work outcomes, such as higher levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of burnout. Moreover, the associations between forgiveness and work outcomes were more evident in work relationships of relatively high (but not low) quality. In addition, employees’ willingness to forgive an offending coworker appeared to remain stable over a four-week period.

Organizational factors, such as a forgiving climate and a team’s social cohesion, as well as whether a leader is forgiving and gives forgiving instructions to employees, were positively associated with more forgiveness among employees.

The results reported demonstrate that forgiveness is a highly successful and effective strategy for dealing constructively with conflicts. It may be the key to protecting and maintaining work relationships that are so important to our well-being at work.

Wenrui Cao wrote her dissertation as a member of the Kurt Lewin Institute. Her promotors are Prof. dr. Toon Taris and Dr. Reine van der Wal.