Driving Proactivity In Organizations: A Comparison Of Approaches To Increase Improvement-Oriented Voice

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Leaders rely on other organizational members to speak up with ideas for improvement, or to alert them to relevant information they may not otherwise see. Various factors predict whether or not individuals speak up with ideas for improvement, including personality (LePine & Van Dyne, 2001), beliefs about voice (Detert & Edmondson, 2011), and contextual factors like leadership and climate (Detert & Burris, 2007; Tangirala & Ramanujam, 2012; 2008). Despite myriad studies on the antecedents of speaking up, a critical question related to voice behavior in organizations remains largely unanswered - namely, whether and through which processes voice can be sustainably increased. Assessing the levers and process for change will allow for a more precise comparison of the drivers (i.e., beliefs, contextual effects) of voice behavior. Exploring whether and how voice can be increased also has important implications for innovation and improvement in organizations. To address this question, I conducted a field experiment in an Indian IT consulting company whereby I led interventions designed to target three antecedents to voice: ability (i.e., issue selling skills), beliefs about voice, and leader behaviors. Preliminary results suggest that targeting employees' ability to speak up creates significant change in in employee- and manager-rated voice. Additionally, these findings suggest that having the ability to speak up helps employees feel that it is more worthwhile and safer to do so. In this dissertation, I examine my theory of change in voice, describe the field experiment, and offer my findings. Finally, I draw conclusions and implications for driving improvement and innovation in organizations through employee voice.

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Employee Voice; Organizational Behavior; Leadership


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Collins, Christopher J.
Collins, Christopher J.

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Detert, James Roland
Diciccio, Thomas J
Detert, James Roland
Burris, Ethan

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Industrial and Labor Relations

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Ph. D., Industrial and Labor Relations

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Doctor of Philosophy

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dissertation or thesis

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