Topic: Organizational Dissent

Author(s), Title and Publication
Garner, J. T. (2012). Making waves at work: Perceived effectiveness and appropriateness of organizational dissent message. Management Communication Quarterly, 26(2), 224-240.

This study examined supervisors’ perceptions of effectiveness and appropriateness of various dissent messages. Participants (364 employees) were asked to recall a conversation with a supervisor or a coworker in which they complained of dissatisfaction about an organizational policy or supervisor. They then answered questions about the dissent audience (supervisor or coworker), the dissent messages, and their perceived effectiveness and appropriateness of the dissent messages.

Results showed that employees perceive that offering solutions to problems is both an effective and appropriate way to express dissent. Circumvention and repetition were effective but less appropriate; direct factual appeals (logical arguments) were quite appropriate but less effective; and seeking allies was ineffective. Employees also reported that pressure and humor messages were inappropriate in dissent conversations, while threats and sarcasm were unacceptable in workplace communication.

Implications for Practice
When employees disagree with the policies or practices in the organization, they should be encouraged to express their ideas by giving solutions to problems, and be wary of building coalitions or using inappropriate humor.

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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