To Apologize or Not to Apologize… What Else Is in Between? A Case Study Analysis with Implications for Leaders & Organizational Context

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The purpose of this content analysis case study was to determine if there was a correlation between the leadership apology behaviors utilized after a scandal, the organizational context, and the leadership style responsible for building the context by utilizing a case study content analysis. The six cases examined were the Nixon Watergate scandal, the NFL Colin Kaepernick controversy, the Wells Fargo fraudulent account scandal of 2016, the JetBlue crisis of 2007, the Emma Watson reparations statement made in response to performative allyship claims in 2020, and the Toto Wolff apology to Sir Lewis Hamilton after the 2022 Imola Grand Prix loss. The researcher provided a history of the existing literature on the field of apologies and analyzed the cases before examining the organizational context, the visible leadership style, the apology delivered by leadership, and the responses from the constituents. The researcher utilized publicly available information, archival data, and articles to analyze the cases as well as Diction software to measure for emotional tonality of the apology. The data suggest that there is a tri-directional relationship between the organizational context, the leadership style utilized, and the leadership apology behaviors. These data are presented and discussed in addition to limitations, suggestions for future research, and broader implications.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Studies
Leadership, Organizational Behavior, Business Education