Exploring Implicit Voice Theories at Work

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Exploring Implicit Voice Theories at Work

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Title: Exploring Implicit Voice Theories at Work
Author: Glassenberg, Aaron
Citation: Glassenberg, Aaron. 2012. Exploring Implicit Voice Theories at Work. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: In modern organizations, individuals frequently choose silence over voice (e.g., Milliken, Morrison, & Hewlin, 2003), which can have a variety of detrimental effects on individuals and organizations. This choice of silence is partially due to self-protective implicit voice theories that employees have internalized from interactions with authority over time. In this research, I investigate self-protective implicit voice theories (abbreviated as IVTs throughout), defined as taken-for-granted beliefs about when and why speaking up at work is risky or inappropriate (Detert & Edmondson, 2011). I present three studies employing lab and field research methods to further understand various aspects of IVTs. In the first study, I explored activation and suppression of IVTs from anger and fear primes. I found that IVTs were generally stable and not susceptible to emotional primes, suggesting that they are well-developed beliefs that are strong enough to remain constant in varied emotional states. In the second study, I investigated the extent to which IVTs and evolutionarily significant facial cues of dominance predicted voice in a vignette-based study. IVTs did not predict voice, but further analysis revealed that the dependent variable was more appropriately categorized as helping. There was a significant interaction between gender and face type on helping. Broadly, the results of this study suggest that people may help others after subconsciously calculating their power and predicted reciprocity from the person being helped. Finally, in a third study, I explored the degree to which personality and demographics affect IVTs and how IVTs are related to withholding in four organizations. I found that IVT scores did not cluster in teams, suggesting that they are best analyzed at the individual level and that workplace context has minimal effect on IVTs. Second, I found that IVTs explain withholding above and beyond contextual and personality variables. Last, I found that IVTs mediate the effect of conflict aversion on withholding. The stability and significance of IVTs is further supported from this research, providing additional research opportunities and possibilities to reduce withholding in organizations.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10318181
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