ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (9): 1457-1466.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2016.01457

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The role leaders’ perception to employee voice behavior motives: An attribution theory-based review

YAN Yu; HE Yanan   

  1. (Department of Psychology, School of Philosophy, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China)
  • Received:2015-12-01 Online:2016-09-15 Published:2016-09-15
  • Contact: YAN Yu, E-mail:


Based on attribution theory, this paper reviews leaders’ perception of employee voice-behavior motives to explain the different leader responses to employee voice behaviors. We propose when leaders believe employees' voice behaviors are driven by either organizational-concern motive or prosocial-values motive, they will have positive responses; such as praise/ acceptance, rewards, and task execution. Alternately, negative responses such as punishment, neglect, and revenge will result when leaders attribute employees' voice behaviors to a challenge motive, disengagement motive, impression management or self-protection. Further, we argue that power distance will moderate the relationship between leaders’ motive perception and employees’ voice behaviors. Specifically, leaders of low power distance are more likely to support and accept voice behaviors exhibiting stronger relationships between expertise and voice climate with positive motive perceptions; while a weaker relationship is seen between challenge motive and negative motive perceptions. On the other hand, leaders of high power distance tend to assert absolute authority and control over subordinates, and exhibit weaker relationships between expertise, creditability, and voice climate with positive motive perceptions; and a stronger relationship between challenge voice and negative motive perceptions. Finally, we suggest future research focus on the following areas: 1) examine voice as a process to examine the process whereby leaders’ responses to voice behaviors can affect employees’ subsequent attitudes and behaviors; 2) explore how a voice climate develops and examine its effects at the individual and organizational levels; 3) clarify on the role of emotions in voice behaviors.

Key words: voice, leadership, motive perception, power distance, attribution theory