Erasmus Centre of Behavioural Ethics

Erasmus Centre of Behavioural Ethics (ECBE)

RSM Discovery: Why people find it hard to forgive leaders who say ‘sorry’

In every workplace people occasionally feel wronged after a conflict. An apology can help to restore trust and normalise working relations but only when it comes with forgiveness. A new study by a team of scientists including Marius van Dijke and Laura M. Giurge of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), shows that apologies coming from a leader may not have that desired healing effect. When duped staff members have less power than the wrongdoer, they become cynical about the good intentions behind the apology and find it hard to forgive, the study found.

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