The impact of decision timing on the effectiveness of leaders’ apologies to repair followers’ trust in the aftermath of leader failure

T Haesevoets, A Joosten, Chris Reinders Folmer, L Lerner, D (David) De Cremer, A Van Hiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Purpose The aim of the present research was to investigate how a negative decision outcome generated by a leader in a hasty, timely, or delayed manner impacts upon the need for, and the effectiveness of apologies to restore followers’ trust. Design/Methodology/Approach Data were collected using five studies in which the effects of timing of an incorrect decision on the trust repair process were investigated. Findings In the aftermath of a leader’s failure, followers experienced a delayed incorrect decision as a more severe transgression than a hasty or a timely incorrect decision. This effect was mediated by procedural fairness concerns (Study 1). The present findings also revealed an interesting paradox. Specifically, in the delayed condition followers expressed the highest need for an apology (Studies 2 and 3), but at the same time expected an apology to be less effective for enhancing trustworthiness than in the timely and the hasty condition (Study 3). Moreover, we also showed that the actual provision of an apology was effective for restoring both trustworthiness (Study 4) and trust (Studies 4 and 5) in the timely and the hasty condition, but ineffective in the delayed condition. Implications The present research shows that when the outcome of a decision is uncertain, it is better to make a decision (too) soon rather than (too) late. Originality/Value Despite the ubiquity of timing errors in daily life, our studies are the first to focus on the role of timeliness of decisions in the trust repair process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-551
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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