ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (2): 217-230.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00217

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The Mechanism of Employee’s Sense of Power on Speaking-up: A Power Cognition Perspective

DUAN Jinyun;Huang Caiyun   

  1. (Department of Psychology, Soochow University; Key Research Institute of Education Ministry-Center for Chinese Urbanization Studies, Soochow University, Suzhou 215123, China)
  • Received:2012-05-09 Published:2013-02-28 Online:2013-02-28
  • Contact: DUAN Jinyu

Abstract: Employee’ speaking-up behavior is a kind of voice behavior which points to a supervisor. Voice behavior is a form of constructive, change-oriented communication intended to improve the organization. Owing to the influence of Chinese culture and thinking style of Chinese people, although there are numerous research outcomes in western countries, it is hard to put these conclusions into practice in a Chinese background. Since governmental organization is representative of Chinese condition and culture, our study was conducted with samples taken from Chinese civil servants. Moreover, the psychological mechanism of speaking-up behavior was also investigated. The results have significant theoretical implications for speaking-up research, and are beneficial to the practice of recruitment and management of civil servants. Based on the situated focus theory and the approach/inhibition theory of power, the study was conducted to explore the relationship between employee’s sense of power and speaking-up behavior, as well as the inner cognitive mechanisms which are represented by cognitive flexibility and psychological availability. Furthermore, the moderating effect of employee’s power distance orientation was also investigated. Our sample consists of 306 civil servants and their immediate supervisors from governmental organizations in the southern area of Jiangsu province. To test our hypotheses, we used factor analysis, regression analysis and simple slope analysis. The results showed that, when employee’s sense of power was high, the probability of speaking-up behavior was increased, and this relationship was mediated by cognitive flexibility and psychological availability. Power distance orientation acted as a mediated-moderator which moderated the relationship between the sense of power and the speaking-up behavior. In addition, power distance orientation positively moderated the relationship between the sense of power and the two mediating variables. In other words, the main effect would be stronger when the moderator was high. Implications, limitations and future directions of the study were discussed as well.

Key words: sense of power, speaking up, cognitive flexibility, psychological availability, power distance orientation