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Follower Forgiveness and Reactions to Leader Interpersonal Transgressions


Follower Forgiveness and Reactions to Leader Interpersonal Transgressions

Robinson, Melanie Ann (2015) Follower Forgiveness and Reactions to Leader Interpersonal Transgressions. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Do leaders transgress in the workplace? Research has shown that they do and that these offenses may occur in a variety of ways (e.g., Blase & Blase, 2002; Grandy & Starratt, 2010; Shapiro, Boss, Salas, Tangirala, & Von Glinow, 2011). This dissertation examines factors that influence the forgiveness accorded by followers for interpersonal transgressions committed by direct supervisors, as well as the impact of forgiveness on organizational outcomes. More specifically, I explore the effects of transgression severity on forgiveness, as moderated by the quality of the leader-follower relationship (leader-member exchange – LMX; Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975), courageous followership (Chaleff, 2009), and apologies. Forgiveness is then argued to impact both turnover intentions and counterproductive behavior, as moderated by one’s continuance commitment (Meyer & Allen, 1991). Two studies were conducted. First, a scenario-based study examined the effects of perceptions of severity on forgiveness, as moderated by LMX and apologies (N = 456). Second, a retrospective field study (N = 333), in which participants were asked to recall a transgression committed by a direct supervisor, was conducted. Across both studies, severity and LMX significantly impacted forgiveness. In Study 1, LMX moderated the relationship between severity and the three subscales of forgiveness (avoidance, revenge, and benevolence motivations; e.g., McCullough, Worthington, & Rachal, 1997; McCullough, Root, & Cohen, 2006), such that the effects of severity were mitigated when LMX was high versus low. In contrast, the moderating effect of LMX on overall forgiveness in Study 2 suggests that LMX magnifies the negative effects of severity on forgiveness. Higher levels of forgiveness were associated with fewer intentions to leave the organization and less counterproductive behavior. Finally, a key finding from this dissertation is that forgiveness mediates the relationship between perceptions of transgression severity and both outcomes. This suggest that forgiveness is an important variable that helps us to understand how and why followers desire to leave the organization and engage in deviance as a result of leader interpersonal transgressions. Future research directions and practical implications of this research are discussed.

Divisions:Concordia University > John Molson School of Business > Management
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Robinson, Melanie Ann
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Administration (Management option)
Date:19 January 2015
Thesis Supervisor(s):Boies, Kathleen
ID Code:979647
Deposited On:16 Jul 2015 12:42
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:49
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