Trust and distrust: their interplay with forgiveness in organizations

Robert J. Bies, Laurie J. Barclay, Maria Francisca Saldanha, Adam A. Kay, Thomas M. Tripp

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


By facilitating cooperation and enhancing stability, trust is an essential yet extremely fragile commodity in organizations. In this chapter, we explore how trust and distrust can play a significant role in shaping forgiveness in the aftermath of workplace offenses. In a review of the literature, we highlight how trust can enable, and distrust can disable, forgiveness processes. Further, we argue that some offenses may create so much distrust that forgiveness is not even a possibility, and thus alternative approaches must be considered. By leveraging conflict management approaches that have been identified in organizational behaviour as well as in other literatures, we outline alternatives to forgiveness that can emerge when people have varying degrees of trust or distrust in the offender (e.g. peaceful coexistence, détente, separation). We also argue that forgiveness can serve as a contextual factor that can shape the restoration of trust. We conclude with a call for new directions in theory and research examining the interplay between trust, distrust, and forgiveness in organizational settings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge companion to trust
EditorsRosalind H. Searle, Ann-Marie I. Nienaber, Sim B. Sitkin
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781315745572
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2018


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