Do I Hear the Whistle…? A First Attempt to Measure Four Forms of Employee Silence and Their Correlates

Journal of Business Ethics 113 (2):349-362 (2013)
Silence in organizations refers to a state in which employees refrain from calling attention to issues at work such as illegal or immoral practices or developments that violate personal, moral, or legal standards. While Morrison and Milliken (Acad Manag Rev 25:706–725, 2000) discussed how organizational silence as a top-down organizational level phenomenon can cause employees to remain silent, a bottom-up perspective—that is, how employee motives contribute to the occurrence and maintenance of silence in organizations—has not yet been given much research attention. In this paper, we argue that this perspective is a meaningful complementation of the existing literature and that it is sensible to conceptualize distinct forms of employee silence (Pinder and Harlos, Research in personnel and human resources management. JAI Press, Greenwich, 2001; van Dyne et al., J Manag Stud 40:1359–1392, 2003). Drawing on past research and theory we conceptualize four forms of employee silence, namely quiescent, acquiescent, prosocial, and opportunistic silence. We present scales to assess the four forms and provide empirical tests for their distinctiveness and patterns of relationships to various correlates and potential antecedents and consequences
Keywords Employee silence  Organizational silence  Speaking up  Employee voice  Extra-role behavior  Scale development
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1308-4
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