Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/annals.2017.0111

Although high-quality work relationships are essential for organizational effectiveness and employee well-being, they often fracture in the course of organizational life. To better understand how work relationships recover from relationship fractures, we provide an integrative review under the umbrella of relational resilience. We establish a unified definition of relational resilience, and then use two broad attributes—resilience processes and resilience foundations—as an organizing framework for our discussion of relational resilience. Resilience processes describe how fractures are triggered, interpreted, and repaired. We review common triggers of relationship fracture and describe two distinct pathways—gradual drifts and abrupt shocks—to fracture, highlight the important role that positive attributional and prosocial sensemaking processes play in facilitating postfracture repair, and discuss the process by which fractured relationships are restored or strengthened. Resilience foundations describe the preconditions for successfully engaging in prosocial sensemaking and relational repair. Our review identified the relational foundations critical to positive sensemaking and positive relational attributions, and the reparative foundations critical to relational repair. Finally, we organize insights and future directions around six themes: balancing and realigning emotions, synchronizing attributions and cognitions, contingencies of effective repair, fracture pathways and repair, trajectories of repair, and reciprocal relationships.

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