Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Business

Supervisor

Dr. Alison Konrad, Dr. Charlice Hurst

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to investigate the consequences of employee voice (i.e., the expression of information, ideas, or concerns for organizational development), primarily focusing on voice assertiveness (i.e., the extent of voicing individuals’ assertive expressions) and its influences on perceptual appraisals and reactions of voice recipients. Based on a literature review, I proposed a process model that described the influential mechanisms of voice assertiveness. I also defined moderating conditions that may guide the nature of the influence processes, such as voice type (promotive voice vs. prohibitive voice), voicer status (subordinate vs. peer), and recipient core self-evaluations. From two experimental studies (Study 1: a scenario-based experiment, Study 2: a laboratory experiment), I found that it is valuable to consider the role of voice assertiveness in order to understand why certain voice behaviors are responded to more favorably than others. Results demonstrated that tentative voice, relative to assertive voice, was more effective in eliciting recipients’ positive reactions to the voice (e.g., endorsement) and to the voicer (e.g., higher performance evaluation and helping intention), because recipients appraised it as less threatening (in particular, threats to their social value and decision-making freedom) and more constructive. Furthermore, these two appraisal dimensions appeared to comprise a serial, rather than parallel, process wherein the content-level appraisal of message constructiveness would result from the relationship-level appraisal of personal threats. On the other hand, I also found that the impact of voice assertiveness was contingent upon the type of voice and the status of voicers. Specifically, the constructiveness perception of tentative voice recipients was significantly stronger when the voice was framed with prohibitive contents than when it was framed with promotive contents. In addition, voice from assertive peers, than assertive subordinates, more easily activated recipients’ threat perception in terms of their decision-making freedom, eventually leading to their reactance. Finally, implications, limitations, and future research issues were discussed.