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Putting the Pieces Back Together or Throwing Them Out? A Theory of Salvaging Workplace Relationships Following Ethical Transgressions
How do parties involved in interpersonal ethical transgressions respond in the aftermath of the transgression? The literature offers conflicting answers. Research in ethics highlights how parties often avoid engagement with one another following a transgression, while relationship repair research assumes that parties want to reengage with one another to repair the relationship. To reconcile these conflicting perspectives, we present a theory of relationship salvaging that describes how parties involved in an interpersonal ethical transgression decide to reengage and continue the relationship. We show that whether and how parties decide to engage and salvage the relationship is driven by the needs that the party feels were threatened by the transgression, and by the engagement decision processes of other party. The complementarity of engagement decisions and methods then dictates whether the conditions for relationship repair will be created.