ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (2): 229-239.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00229

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

How can leader’s voice endorsement promote employee voice: An integrated mechanism based on the goal self-organization perspective

ZHANG Kai1,SHI Jinjing1,LUO Wenhao2()   

  1. 1 School of Business, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
    2 School of Economics and Management, North China University of Technology, Beijing 100144, China
  • Received:2018-07-09 Published:2020-02-25 Online:2019-12-24
  • Contact: Wenhao LUO


Extant literature has long documented the important role of employee voice behavior with such literature pointing to leadership as a vital antecedent to employee voice behavior. However, one relatively unexplored area in this stream or research is the understanding of, how leader’s voice endorsement affects employees’ voice behavior. Prior studies have investigated the relationship between leader’s behavior and employee voice through a motivational theoretical perspective or a cognitive theoretical perspective. First, the voice literature has drawn on social exchange theory, conservation of resources theory and expectancy theory to explain how employee voice can be triggered through leader behavior that enhances employee motivation to voice. Second, the literature has also drawn on implicit voice theory, information processing theory, and social cognition theory to understand how the leader influences employee voice through a cognitive lens. However, this results in a fragmented literature with the need for an overarching theory that links these perspectives. Therefore, we provide an integrated framework through the self-organizing goal system theory of human psychology. In doing so, we develop a goal self-organization framework of employee voice behavior which integrates the cognitive and motivational approaches to voice. Based on this framework, how employees self-organize their goal system can function as the core mechanism that influences employee’s voice. Further, we explain how leader’s voice endorsement can promote employee voice using this framework.

Empirically, we tested the hypotheses that both employee’s work meaningfulness and voice efficacy mediate the positive relationship between leader’s voice endorsement and employee’s promotive voice and prohibitive voice. A two-wave survey was conducted in an internet-based financial company operating in Tianjin and Zhejiang. We used existing, validated measures with Chinese questionnaires as well as the standard translation and back-translation procedures to assure item wording validity. Separated surveys were distributed to the focal employees and their immediate supervisors at two different time points. At time 1, supervisors reported their voice endorsement behaviors towards particular subordinate. Two weeks later, focal employees reported their work meaningfulness, voice efficacy, and voice behavior. A sample of 73 supervisors and 236 subordinates’ valid responses was collected. We assessed the discriminant validity with confirmatory factor analysis and tested our hypotheses using Mplus and bootstrap analysis.

Results of the confirmatory factor analysis showed good discriminant validity for the key variables, as well as a good fit between the hypothesized model and the data. In support of our hypotheses, the results revealed a significant positive relationship between leader’s voice endorsement and employee voice behavior (including promotive voice and prohibitive voice). Additionally, for both types of employee voice behavior, the aforementioned relationship was mediated by employee’s work meaningfulness and voice efficacy, indicating that there are dual psychological mechanisms: specifically, both motivational and cognitive, processes. Our results indicated that employee’s work meaningfulness and voice efficacy fully mediated the relationship between leader’s voice endorsement and both types of employee voice behavior.

To sum up, this study contributes to theory by providing a goal self-organization framework to integrate the fragmented literature on voice from both a motivational and cognitive perspective. Drawing on the theory of human psychology, we integrate the cognitive and motivational perspective by introducing psychological goal system. Furthermore, our study extends the voice literature by showing how leader’s voice endorsement promotes employee voice. Based on this goal self-organization framework, we show that leader’s voice endorsement promotes the attainment of employee’s psychological goals, which in turn triggers and regulates the dual psychological mechanism, and drives individuals towards the fulfillment of their psychological goals. This framework extends our understanding of the leader endorsement-employee voice relationship and contributes to theoretical integration of the voice literature as well as surfaces implications for practice. The implications, limitations and future directions of the study are discussed.

Key words: employee voice, psychological goal system, self-organization, voice endorsement, integrated mechanism

CLC Number: