Voice and Whistleblowing in Organizations
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Voice and Whistleblowing in Organizations

Overcoming Fear, Fostering Courage and Unleashing Candour

Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper

This book examines the decision to speak out in organizations or to keep silent, the roles of fear and courage, and why increasing valid information and truth is central to individual and organizational health. Employees in organizations face countless daily situations in which they make a choice to speak up, exercise voice, or remain silent. Too many choose to remain silent. Others only tell supervisors what they want to hear, becoming ‘yes’ men and women. Expressing one’s voice increases individual health and well-being and enhances learning, quality and timeliness of decision making, work engagement, and ultimately team and organizational success. This volume, containing chapters by international researchers, examines the causes and consequences of exercising voice and ways individuals and organizations can support voice in the workplace.
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Chapter 5: Decision making in work teams: the role of voice

Overcoming Fear, Fostering Courage and Unleashing Candour

Jennifer Feitosa, Jacqueline M. Spencer and Eduardo Salas


In many team contexts, exercising voice – or speaking up behaviors – can improve team process gains and performance. There are many instances of team members voicing suggestions, concerns, or ideas that lead to successful outcomes. For example, Google defines its organizational culture as one “in which everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions” (Google, n.d.). Google has been a pioneer in innovation for the past decade, and much of its success may be due to a less hierarchical structure that enables employees to exercise voice in all discussions. The positive impact of voice can be seen in the areas of health care, aviation, and sports, just to name a few. In a healthcare context, lives can be saved if nurses feel comfortable telling a surgeon that they perceive an error in the operating room. Similarly, a disaster can be avoided if a co-pilot properly expresses concern to the pilot while in flight. What if these individuals did not feel they were able to freely exercise voice to their team?

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