Author(s), Title and Publication

Goldman, Z., W., & Myers, S. A. (2015). The relationship between organizational assimilation and employees’ upward, lateral, and displaced dissent. Communication Reports, 18(1), 24 – 35.


This article reports a study that explored the process by which an individual employee being integrated into the culture of an organization, i.e. organizational assimilation and its relationship with the employee’s means of expressing dissatisfaction or contradictory opinions towards the organization, i.e. employee dissent. Traditionally, employee dissent has been categorized into three types. First, upward dissent is the process of expressing disagreement to an immediate supervisor with the intention of promoting change. Second, lateral dissent is the process of employees expressing dissatisfaction to peer workers and co-workers, due to the lack of opportunity to express their contradictory opinions to a supervisor. The last type, displaced dissent means employees expressing disagreement in the workplace to an audience external to the organization. This study proposed that which type of dissent an employee chooses to express dissatisfaction depends on the seven dimensions of organizational assimilation, namely, employees’ familiarity with coworkers, familiarity with supervisors, acculturation, recognition, involvement, job competency, and role negotiation.

The study adopted an online survey of 186 full-time employees recruited from convenient sampling procedure on Facebook. The results of the study indicated that all seven dimensions of organizational assimilation were positively related to upward dissent; whereas only two of seven dimensions – acculturation and involvement – were negatively related to lateral dissent. No correlation was found between organizational assimilation and displaced dissent. Such results indicated that if employees feel more integrated into the organization’s culture, they would be more likely to express their dissent upwardly to a supervisor or manager; on the other hand, if employees take on additional responsibilities in their organization and become more integrated into the organizational culture, they would be less likely to express dissent to their peer colleagues.

Implications for Practitioner

Managers should (1) adopt different feedback mechanisms and strategies among employees based on employees’ level of assimilation with the organization; (2) be aware that employees who struggle with assimilating into the organization are hesitant to express dissatisfaction to their supervisors; (3) actively encourage and seek out feedbacks from employees who are not fully assimilated into the organization; (4) consider seeking feedbacks via private means, such as emails, instead of in a public forum.

Location of Article

The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full paper)


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