Topic: Employee Communication Behavior and Upward Communication

Author(s), Title and Publication
Tangirala, S., & Ramanujam, R. (2008). Exploring nonlinearity in employee voice: The effects of personal control and organizational identification. Academy of Management Journal, 51(6), 1189-1203.

This study investigated the impact of employees’ perceived personal control on their voice. Personal control refers to employees’ perceived autonomy and impact at work, and employee voice refers to employees’ expressions of challenging but constructive work-related opinions, concerns, and ideas. The study also examined whether the relationship between personal control and voice is influenced by employees’ organizational identification, or the extent to which employees feel belongingness with their organization. The authors surveyed 586 nurses at a large Midwestern hospital, and investigated their willingness to speak up about issues potentially affecting the safety of their patients. The questionnaire measured the nurses’ perceived personal control, organizational identification, and engagement in voice on issues of patient safety.

Results indicated that the relationship between personal control and voice is U-shaped. Employees are willing to speak up about problems when they feel minimal personal control in the organization; their willingness to speak up decreases with increasing levels of perceived personal control. However, after a certain point (the intermediate level), employees’ willingness to speak up increases as levels of perceived personal control increase. The study also found that employees who are more committed to the organization are less likely to remain silent when they perceive a low-level of personal control, and are more likely to speak up when they perceive a high-level of personal control.

Implications for Practice
Managers may encourage employee to voice concerns and ideas by: 1) restricting employees’ personal control to a very low level, or 2) providing employees with high levels of personal control, and enhancing employees’ organizational commitment. Because employees may feel less job satisfaction with a low-level of personal control, managers should use the strategy with caution.

Location of Article
The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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