An exploratory study of how manager behavior influences employee decisions about accurately reporting business problems

by Velbeck, William M., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2009, 180 pages; 3387676


This study explored the effect of manager behavior on subordinate reporting of business problems. The primary finding of this study is that subordinates change the way they report problems if they anticipate that their manager is likely to become upset or angry in response to the report. The study further identified specific manager behaviors that either encourage or discourage the reporting of business problems by subordinates. The data for this qualitative study was collected using semi-structured interviews conducted with 10 working adults. Screening questionnaires were used to select the participants on the basis of education and experience criteria. Five females and five males participated in the interviews used for this study. This study found that in cases where managers respond to subordinate's problem reports in a constructive, non-blaming manner, subordinates were more likely to report problems sooner and in greater detail. Conversely, when managers become upset, angry, or blame the subordinate for the problem that is being reported, there is a tendency for the subordinate to delay reporting problems and/or to soften the details of the problem in an effort to avoid upsetting the manager. The study also identified a number of ways in which managers, subordinates, and organizations are adversely affected when business problems cannot be freely reported upward. The most significant adverse effect for managers was found to be a decrease in situational awareness. The most significant adverse effect for organizations was found to be lost productivity and innovation. Although the small sample size involved in this study limits the transferability of the findings to the general population, the results of this study suggest potential areas where appropriate performance improvement interventions could enhance the upward reporting of problems in organizations.

AdviserKeith Johansen
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Organization theory; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3387676

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