Killing ideas without killing future possibilities : managing employee voice rejection
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While a significant amount of past voice research has identified its antecedents and provided managers with guidance for how to increase the frequency of their employees’ voice, our understanding of how managers’ turn down employee ideas and subsequently influence future employee voicing behavior is limited. This dissertation focuses on the underexamined yet common and critically important part of the voice process, managerial rejection of employee ideas, through two studies. First, in Study 1 I use interview data from managers and employees to determine four dimensions of managerial rejection strategies: rejection totality, diagnosticity, interpersonal sensitivity, and bilateral inquiry; and two goals managers keep in mind when rejecting ideas: relationship preservation and employee coaching. I then draw from existing scholarship on politeness theory and education research to develop hypotheses on how each rejection dimension impacts future employee voice. In Study 2, I use a laboratory experiment to test these hypotheses and show significant main and interaction effects of these dimensions on employees’ future willingness to voice and future idea quality, as well as mediating effects for face threat concerns and learning. My results suggest that managers should be careful in how they turn down employees’ ideas because their choice in rejection strategies can have a significant influence on their employees’ future voicing behavior.