Initial researches inthe area of employee voices were quite limited due to lack of conceptualclarity of employee voices and non availability of robust measurementsincluding statistical tools.
(Gorden, 1988). However, scholarsstarted focus on voice research after the pioneering study of Van Dyne and LePine 1998, where he not only defined theconstruct of employee voice but also developed an operational measure of it. Asper the study of Van Dyne and LePine (1998), the voice is explained as howemployee express constructive challenges that aimed to improve the currentstatus and he mentioned that change oriented suggestions and recommendationsfor improvement are some of the examples for voices.
Scholars tried to definevoices as employees’ discretionary behavior which is intended to improveorganizational functioning, challenge & upset the status quo and mainlyaimed to target the people who holds power within the organization (Detert and Burris (2007). Voice is considered to be employees’expression such as opinions, concerns, or ideas about work-related issues that arechallenging and constructive (Tangirala and Ramanujam (2008b). Sometimes voice isconsidered to be employees’ intentional efforts to articulate instead of withholding relevant ideas, information andopinion in connection with work related improvements ( Van Dyne, Ang, and Botero (2003). Encompassing both voices which is directedtowards superior as well as to team members, Morrison 2011 suggested anintegrated definition of voice as employees discretionary behavior ofarticulating ideas, suggestions, concerns or opinions about their work related issues in order to improve organizational or theirdepartment or team performance and functioning Burris,Detert, & Chiaburu, 2008; Detert & Burris, 2007; Detert & Trevino,2010; LePine & Van Dyne, 1998; Tangirala & Ramanujam, 2008b; Van Dyne,Ang, & Botero, 2003; Van Dyne & LePine, 1998) Employee Voice as aUnique Construct: Although employee voice parallelsother forms of extra-role or organizational citizenship behavior (e.
g.issue-selling, dissent, whistle-blowing, taking charge, breaking silence, voicebehavior has evolved into a distinct and focal construct. In the literature,voice has been frequently mentioned along the same lines as organizationalcitizenship behavior (OCB) – positive and discretionary behaviors which are notexplicitly defined in the organizational contract but are nonetheless importantin promoting effective organizational functioning (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Organ,2006); however, most OCB studies have unintentionally shifted their attentionaway from the challenging and innovative aspect of behavior that is a centraltenet of employee voice. It is noteworthy that although change-oriented (i.e.speaking up) appeared in Organ’s (1988) original construct of OCB under thecivic virtue dimension (i.e. speaking up for the benefit of the organizationand suggesting improvements in organizational issues and policies), currentstudies tend to use popular OCB measurements that inadequately captures civicvirtue (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, & Fetter, 1990).
Van Dyne et al.(1994) criticized this limitation because they noticed the absence of itemsthat gaged “communications that challenge norms” and behaviors that “supportunpopular views”. As a result, a unique employee voice construct wassubsequently developed and is the basis for much of the current employee voiceliterature (e.g. Burris, 2012; Burris et al., 2008). As an “assertivenonconformance” (Tangirala & Ramanujam, 2008), the biggest distinction thatmakes employee voice unique is its constructive nature and motivation to inducechange. Therefore, for the purpose of this study, we uphold the definition ofvoice as a discretionary, change-oriented behavior that – unlike complaining orwhining – aims to help improve the organization and challenge the status quo.
Employee voice is defined as thediscretionary communication of opinions and thought that – unlike merelycomplaining – is intended to be beneficial, even though such information may challenge and upset the status quo(Burris et al., 2008). The concept of employee voice originates from the ideathat employees may be dissatisfied with their current environment and seek toimprove their own and/or their organization’s well-being rather than to quit orremain quiet (Hirschman, 1970).
In Hirschman’s (1970) words, voice is an effortto “change, rather than escape from, an objectionable state of affairs”.Eisenberg and Goodall (2001) reiterate this conceptualization by describingvoice as the employee’s choice to question the status quo “rather than keep quietand stay or give up and leave”. Voice behavior has also been deemed a”constructive change-oriented communication” (LePine & Van Dyne, 2001) thatcould be in the form of suggestions for improvement (Van Dyne & LePine,1998), identifying problems relating to work and the organization (Milliken etal., 2003), disclosures of unfairness or misconduct (Pinder & Harlos,2001), propositions of strategic ideas (Dutton & Ashford, 1993), oropinions or ideas differing from those of others (Premeaux & Bedeian, 2003).
Voice is not simply saying something; it must encompass three inherentcharacteristics – discretionary, change-oriented, and potentially risky. Generally, there aretwo types of conceptualization of voices in management literature – 1) Employees’Speaking up behavior where employees speak up proactively when they want tomake suggestions for change (Farrell and Rusbult, 1992; Frese et al.,1999; LePine and Van Dyne, 1998; Rusbult et al.
, 1988; Van Dyne et al., 1995;Withey and Cooper, 1989; Zhou and George, 2001) – 2)Presence of process & procedure which describe availability of system inthe organization that enhances employee perception on justices and facilitateemployee participation in decision making (Lind et al., 1990). There are evidences tosuggest that employees think that they can influences organizations decisionsand expect system to capture their voices to improve organizational commitmentand employee engagement. Organizations institutionalize various process tocapture employees voice so that employees can influence organization decisionand can rise their views on the current process ( C Rees et al 2013). Bothconceptualizations have its own merit in addressing management issues, incurrent study, we focus onconceptualization of voice as employees speaking up behavior rather thanorganizational process because we are interested to explore impact of employeesvoices on team process that lead to team outcomes.