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.

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doi.org/10.1007/s10869-015-9431-8, hdl.handle.net/1765/95781
ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal of Business & Psychology
Erasmus School of Law

Haesevoets, T., Joosten, A., Reinders Folmer, C., Lerner, L., de Cremer, D., & van Hiel, A. (2016). The impact of decision timing on the effectiveness of leaders’ apologies to repair followers’ trust in the aftermath of leader failure. Journal of Business & Psychology, 31(4), 533–551. doi:10.1007/s10869-015-9431-8