Prosocial Response to Client-Instigated Victimization: The Roles of Forgiveness and Workgroup Conflict

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Abstract

We investigate forgiveness as a human service employee coping response to client-instigated victimizations and further explore the role of workgroup conflict in (a) facilitating this response, and (b) influencing the relationship between victimization and workplace outcomes. Using the theoretical lens of Conservation of Resources (Hobfoll, 1989), we propose that employees forgive clients—especially in the context of low workgroup conflict. From low to moderate levels of client-instigated victimization, we suggest that victimization and forgiveness are positively related; however, this positive relationship does not prevail when individuals confront egregious levels of victimization (i.e., an inverted-U shape). This curvilinear relationship holds under low but not under high workgroup conflict. Extending this model to workplace outcomes, findings also demonstrate that the indirect effects of victimization on job satisfaction, burnout, and turnover intentions are mediated by forgiveness when workgroup conflict is low. Experiment- and field-based studies provide evidence for the theoretical model.

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