Manager openness to improvement-oriented employee voice: A study searching for keys to unlock the manager's door

by Kopald, Seth W., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 165 pages; 3524089


This quantitative study furthers the research in employee voice and issue selling. Mid-level managers are key players in determining if employees will share improvement oriented (I-O) ideas and would typically be the ones to sell those ideas to upper management. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine if a climate for psychological safety and a climate of silence affected mid-level managers' openness employees' I-O ideas and their willingness to sell employees' such ideas upwards. In addition, it was predicted that managers' level of psychological safety would mediate the relationship between managers' perception of a climate of silence and their openness and willingness to sell. Survey questionnaires were administered to managers and employees within social service and government agencies. The findings of this study supported the prediction that managers' perceptions of a climate for psychological safety and a climate of silence would affect their willingness to sell employees' ideas. In particular, the climate of silence variable – supervisor openness – strongly predicted managers' willingness to sell. However, the same climate perceptions only moderately affected managers' openness to voice. In addition, tenure in position and tenure in organization seemed to decrease managers' openness, whereas managers' level of education had the opposite effect. Managers' willingness to sell was positively affected by age, yet was negatively related to education level. Psychological safety did not act as a mediator in this study. There are a number of implications of this study for organizations. Managers' willingness to sell employees' ideas is strongly influenced by climate. Thus, if organizations create a safe climate for managers by demonstrating openness from the top of the organization downward, managers may be more likely to sell employees' ideas for improvement. Hiring managers with higher education could increase the number of managers in an organization who appear open to ideas. However, highly educated managers may need more encouragement to sell employees ideas compared to those with less education. Finally, as managers remain in organizations and in their positions, their openness to employee voice may decrease.

AdviserKatherine Dew
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Occupational psychology; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3524089

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