Why Managers Do Not Seek Voice from Employees: The Importance of Managers’ Personal Control and Long-Term Orientation

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2018.1273

Voice, or employees’ upward expression of challenging but constructive concerns or ideas on work-related issues, can play a critical role in improving organizational effectiveness. Despite its importance, evidence suggests that many managers are often hesitant to solicit voice from their employees. We develop and test a new theory that seeks to explain this puzzling reluctance. Voice is a distinctive behavior that involves escalation of opinions, ideas, or concerns by employees to their managers with the expectation that they would respond by making systemic changes in their teams. Hence, we argue that managers are likely to solicit voice more when they perceive requisite discretion and influence (personal control) to effect changes in their teams. Additionally, because voice-driven change can cause short-term disruptions and bring about benefits typically only over time, we propose that managers act on their personal control to solicit more voice when they also possess adequate long-term orientation. We find support for our arguments across four studies using experimental as well as correlational methods. We discuss the conceptual and practical implications of our findings.

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