Why, How and When Do Employees Initiate Constructive Voice? An Exploration of Influence from Leaders and Organizations

Date

2019

Authors

Lin, Xiaoshuang

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Abstract

It has been shown that employee constructive voice (e.g., making constructive suggestions) has significant positive effects on team and organisational effectiveness; however, many employees are unwilling to speak up or voice their opinions. Understanding how to encourage employees to speak up has become increasingly important for today's organisations, especially from the perspectives of leaders and organisations. This thesis, which consists of two empirical studies, elaborates how, why and when employees express their voices, from the perspectives of two social actors: leaders (i.e., servant leaders) and organisations (i.e., psychological contract breach; PCB). Specifically, Study 1 examines whether engaging in servant leader behaviour affects leader and follower energy resources based on conservation of resource (COR) theory, and if so, whether such effects lead to greater follower constructive voice. It investigates a dual-centric energising process in which leaders' relational energy and followers' feelings of energy mediate the relationship between servant leadership and follower constructive voice; these relationships are strengthened when leaders have greater self-regulation. Study 2 investigates how PCB hampers employee constructive voice but leads to destructive voice. It develops and tests a moderated-mediation model in which relative deprivation is theorised as a unique mechanism contributing to why employees who perceive PCB are less likely to speak constructively but more likely to speak destructively; leader emotional support acts as a buffer in relationships between PCB and voice. A series of time-lagged supervisor-subordinate matched data was used to test the overall framework. Results confirm that followers' feelings of energy and leaders' relational energy mediated the relationship between servant leadership and follower voice, and leader self-regulation strengthened the positive relationships between servant leadership and both followers' feelings of energy and leaders' relational energy, as well as indirect relationships between servant leadership and follower voice. Finally, results support that argument that relative deprivation mediates relationships between PCB and employee destructive and constructive voice, as well as the buffering effect of leader emotional support. This thesis contributes to the voice literature, servant leadership and PCB literature by investigating new underlying psychological mechanisms of constructive voice, and building and testing boundary conditions of constructive voice. Theoretical and practical implications for practitioners are discussed.

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Thesis (PhD)

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DOI

10.25911/5de62c94ef3b0

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