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date: 05 December 2022

Employee Voice: Meanings, Approaches, and Research Directionslocked

Employee Voice: Meanings, Approaches, and Research Directionslocked

  • Edoardo Della Torre, Edoardo Della TorreDepartment of Management, University of Bergamo
  • Alessia GrittiAlessia GrittiDepartment of Management, University of Bergamo
  •  and Adrian WilkinsonAdrian WilkinsonDepartment of Employment Relations and Human Resources, Griffith University

Summary

Employee voice (EV) refers to all the ways and means through which employees have a say in the decisions that affect their work and the overall running of their organization. It involves different domains and topics and occurs through a variety of channels (direct and indirect, formal and informal, individual and collective). The main distinction is between direct voice channels, through which employees have the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions directly to managers without the mediation of representatives, and indirect voice channels, through which EV is expressed by representatives, usually elected from the wider group of employees.

Since the last decades of the 20th century, EV has become a central topic in human resource management (HRM), industrial relations, (IR) and organizational behavior (OB) literature, providing researchers and practitioners with an extensive and ever-increasing amount of knowledge. However, each discipline has created its own conceptualization of the meanings of and purposes for EV, leading EV to become a contested terrain, characterized by research silos and competing literatures. While the OB perspective concentrates on the informal and prosocial nature of individual EV, the IR approach is mainly focused on formal structures for collective EV and the contrasting interests of management and workers, and the HRM approach tends to emphasize the role of direct EV as a component of the wider HRM systems that may generate higher organizational outcomes.

Integrative approaches that can bring together different disciplinary perspectives are therefore required for a more comprehensive understanding of how EV takes shape in organizations and affects individual and organizational outcomes. Greater attention should also be paid to the multidimensionality of EV, investigating further how it relates to employee silence and to other phenomena, such as ethical employee voice and whistle-blowing. Finally, little is known about the emerging forms of EV related to workplace digitalization and working remotely.

Subjects

  • Ethics
  • Human Resource Management
  • Organizational Behavior

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