ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (1): 206-215.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00206

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From solicitation to responses: Managers’ roles in employee voice behavior chain

SHI Lixiaoyun, ZHU Yue, DUAN Jinyun()   

  1. Shanghai Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Psychological Crisis Intervention, School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2021-02-08 Online:2022-01-15 Published:2021-11-25


As an important form of employee engagement in organizational decision-making, voice has an unignorable influence on employees themselves, managers and organizations. Since Hirschman raised the concept of voice, scholars have contributed to exploring the antecedents and consequences of employee voice, managerial evaluation and endorsement, as well as voice solicitation. Moreover, accumulating attention has been paid to the managerial roles in promoting employee voice and amplifying the positive effects of voice. However, research on managerial roles in voice remains unsystematic and leaves lots of issues to be addressed.
Based on Input-Process-Output (IPO) model, we summarize managerial roles in the voice process, as well as their premises and outcomes. At first, we integrate voice solicitation, employee voice, and managers’ reactions toward voice (i.e., managerial endorsement and voice/voicer evaluation) into a comprehensive concept, entitled as voice behavior chain. Voice behavior chain reflects the Process component of the IPO model and portraits managerial roles in the voice contexts. In the voice behavior chain, as initiators, managers consult employees about their work-related ideas and opinions, which can facilitate employee voice. Then, as reactors, managers would decide whether to endorse employee voice or not, and meanwhile, they also evaluate voice and corresponding voicers. However, it is notable that voice behavior chain could be incomplete; that is, except for employee voice, neither of the managerial roles is a must to constitute the chain. The order of the elements within the behavior chain may also change under certain circumstances. Moreover, we provide fine-grained arguments about the distinctiveness and connections between voice solicitation and employee voice and between managerial endorsement and voice/voicer evaluation.
We also conclude that in the IPO model, voice behavior chain shares similar Input and Output components (i.e., similar antecedents and consequences), which are across individual-level, team-level and organizational-level. Regarding the Input component, managers’ affective states, openness toward change, motivations, self-regulatory resources, self-efficacy, and face threat directly influence their performance in voice behavior chain. Managerial endorsement and evaluation also depend on employees’ communication skills, credibility and expertise. Team-level (e.g., power distance, leader-member exchange, goal consistency and the involvement of third party) and organizational-level factors (e.g., change climate and voice norms) can also activate voice behavior chain. Since researchers tend to adopt self-regulatory theory or image/ego threat theory to trace the sources of voice behavior chain, we call for further studies to consider other potential theoretical explanations and input factors, such as managers’ attributions. Regarding the Output component, voice behavior chain may have effects on individual perceived organizational support, organizational commitment, performance and promotion. It also serves as a catalyze to promote team performance and problem-solving skills and to build organizational creative climate. However, the managerial roles cannot be limited in strengthening the effects of employee voice. For instance, managerial solicitation may induce managers’ emotional exhaustion if their proactive behaviors aren’t followed by employee voice and support.
Drawing on the IPO model in the voice context, we emphasize the managerial roles in voice behavior chain. Thereby this study comprehensively incorporates the existing literature, identifies important issues neglected by previous research and sheds light on future studies. Researchers need to be more scrupulous of the application of the related theory when conducting cross-cultural research. Also, the constructs and dimensions of the behavior elements can be explored furtherly, and we are looking forward to more objective measurements of managerial roles. Last but not least, the research on managerial roles in voice behavior chain can be enriched by investigating spillover effects and corresponding mechanisms. We hope this review can make theoretical and practical contributions by integrating those scattered topics and guiding managers to facilitate and respond to employee voice efficiently.

Key words: voice solicitation, managerial responses, voice endorsement, voice evaluation, Input-Process- Output Model

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