Overcoming Fear, Fostering Courage and Unleashing Candour
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 9: Supervisory epistemic, ideological, and existential responses to voice: a motivated cognition approach
Employee voice – defined as the communication of constructive ideas for workplace improvement (e.g., Van Dyne, Cummings, and McLean Parks, 1995; Van Dyne and Le Pine, 1998) – is an important contributor to organizational effectiveness. Scholars invoke a variety of rationales to explain the benefits of subordinate voice, including gaining access to others’ perspectives, becoming aware of a broader range of inputs, and learning about suggestions subordinates have for improving existing processes (Morrison and Milliken, 2000; Thomas et al., Whitman, and Viswesvaran, 2010; Morrison, 2011, for a recent review). At the same time, subordinates’ voice to proximal and distal “higher-ups” is viewed as fraught with risks (Ashford et al., Rothbard, Piderit, and Dutton, 1998; Detert and Burris, 2007; Dutton et al., Ashford, Lawrence, and Miner-Rubino, 2002; Kish-Gephart et al., Detert, Treviño, and Edmondson, 2009). Indeed, supervisor reactions to employee voice can be positive or negative, and managers can respond based on at least three aspects of the voice event – the idea that was communicated, the very act of speaking up, and the person who engaged in voice. Illustratively, managers can embrace, champion, attack, or criticize the idea. Likewise, they can welcome, promote, ignore, or publicly denounce speaking up behavior. Finally, they can praise, reward, scold, or punish subordinates who engage in voice.
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