ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (8): 1161-1175.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.01161

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The Antecedents and Outcomes of Employee’s Forgiveness: A Multilevel Model

ZHANG Junwei;LONG Lirong   

  1. (School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, 430074, China)
  • Received:2013-04-01 Published:2014-08-25 Online:2014-08-25
  • Contact: LONG Lirong


In organizations, conflict and offense are the ubiquitous part of everyday life. Especially, as organizations increasingly adopt teams as primary work units, which suggests that frequency and intensity of workplace offense will on the increase. As coping strategy for dealing with workplace offense, forgiveness has received enthusiastic attention from researchers. A growing body of literature about forgiveness has focused on psychology, religion, theology, and other areas. There is a notable lack of forgiveness research in the organizational sciences. In order to enrich and deepen our understanding of workplace forgiveness, this research tried to explore the antecedents and outcomes of employee’s forgiveness in the context of Chinese organizations. Specifically, drawing on social information processing theory, we first investigated the cross-level effects of forgiveness climate on employee’s forgiveness, and examined the moderating role of Zhong-yong thinking style in forgiveness climate-employee’s forgiveness linkage. The second objective of this study is to examine the main effects of employee’s forgiveness on ICB, and investigate the moderating role of genuine harmony and superficial harmony playing in the linkage between them. In order to avoid the problem of common method bias, we examined the hypotheses proposed with matched field data collected from 50 supervisors and 298 employees. Employees were asked to provide ratings of forgiveness climate, Zhong-yong thinking style, employee’s forgiveness, genuine harmony and superficial harmony. Supervisor survey contained measures of employee’s ICB. We tested the distinctiveness of the study variables using structural equation model (SEM), hierarchical linear model (HLM) were applied to test our hypotheses. Consistent with hypotheses, the results of hierarchical linear model revealed that forgiveness climate had significant positive effects on employee’s forgiveness, and Zhong-yong thinking style significantly moderated the relation between forgiveness climate and employee’s forgiveness, such that the relation is stronger for employees with high Zhong-yong thinking style than for employees with low Zhong-yong thinking style. In addition, HLM results also showed that the main effect of employee’s forgiveness on ICB was not significant, while genuine harmony and superficial harmony played a moderating role in the relation. Genuine harmony strengthened the positive relation between employee’s forgiveness and ICB, such that the relation is stronger for employees with high genuine harmony than for employees with low genuine harmony. By contrast, superficial harmony weakened the positive relation between employee’s forgiveness and ICB, such that the relation is stronger for employees with low superficial harmony than for employees with high superficial harmony. Our findings contribute to the literature in several ways. First, this research enriches and extends the literature on the forgiveness scholarship in the organizational sciences by examining the antecedents and outcomes of employee’s forgiveness. Second, this study integrates some indigenous elements into research framework of employee’s forgiveness, which not only enriches indigenous theory and research, but also helps to offer some management implications for Chinese organizations.

Key words: employee’s forgiveness, forgiveness climate, ICB, Zhong-yong thinking style