Friday, August 12, 2011
Accepting blame vs. Expressing remorse
I'm headed to the Academy of Management conference in San Antonio today, and I'll be blogging over the next few days about interesting research presented at the conference. As I look at the program, I'm intrigued by a study conducted by Northwestern doctoral student Brian Gunia. He examines two dimensions of the typical apology offered after an organizational failure: Blame-taking vs. Expressing remorse. He finds that leaders are more likely to express remorse rather than accept blame during the delivery of an apology. However, other organization members valued an acceptance of blame more than an indication of remorse. It seems that taking responsibility reflects more positively on the leader's character. I find the study quite interesting given my work on how large-scale failures occur. Prior studies have not made this distinction, and I'm not sure if leasers think carefully about these two aspects of an apology.