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Handbook of Research on Employee Voice

Handbook of Research on Employee Voice

Elgar original reference

Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and Richard B. Freeman

The term ‘employee voice’ refers to the ways and means through which employees can attempt to have a say and influence organizational issues that affect their work and the interests of managers and owners. The concept is distinct, but related to and often overlapping with issues such as participation, involvement and, more recently, engagement. This Handbook provides an up-to-date survey of the current research into employee voice, sets this research into context and sets a marker for future research in the area.

Chapter 8: Employee voice and silence in organizational behavior

Chad T. Brinsfield

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour


Envision yourself in a department meeting planning the launch of a vital corporate initiative. You have serious reservations about a proposed plan, but you hold back and do not express these concerns to your coworkers. Think about what it must have been like to be a young soldier in Iraq stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2004. You have witnessed egregious human rights violations by some of your fellow soldiers toward Iraqi prisoners. Do you speak up, or do you remain silent? Or, imagine you are a line manager for a large manufacturer which is experiencing tenuous employee relations. You recognize the need for employees to be able to express their concerns. However, you are uncertain how, or to what extent, to grant voice to your employees. All of these examples represent situations where voice may be used as an expressive or participative medium in the workplace. Moreover, these scenarios also suggest that the efficacy of voice is not always clear cut, and that sometimes silence is a compelling alternative. In this chapter I explore the study of employee voice and silence within the field of organizational behavior (OB) and propose avenues through which our understanding of situations like these can be further enhanced.

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