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Organizational Change

Student Name

Lecture Name



Part One

Identify a change that you implemented or was implemented at an organization with which you are familiar.

One change that was implemented at the organization I work for was the implementation of a new customer service software system. This change was implemented to streamline our customer service processes and improve communication with our customers. The new system allowed us to easily track customer inquiries and complaints, as well as provide faster and more efficient responses. Additionally, the system allowed us to easily track customer satisfaction levels, which helped us to identify areas where we needed to improve. Overall, this change has greatly improved our customer service operations and has helped us to better serve our customers.

What impact an organization’s corporate culture have on maintaining and sustaining change?

An organization’s corporate culture can have a significant impact on maintaining and sustaining change. According to Lillis and Szwejczewski (2015), the corporate culture of an organization can either support or hinder the implementation and sustainability of change. They suggest that a strong corporate culture can help to sustain change by aligning the organization’s values and beliefs with the change, and by creating a sense of shared purpose among employees.

When an organization’s corporate culture supports the change, employees are more likely to understand and accept the change, and to work towards its successful implementation. They understand why the change is necessary, and how it will benefit the organization and its members. This increases their motivation and willingness to adopt new behaviours and processes, which is crucial for the change to be successful. On the other hand, when an organization’s corporate culture hinders the change, employees may resist the change, or feel disengaged from the process. They may see the change as a threat to their current way of working, or as unnecessary. This can lead to a lack of buy-in, commitment, and support for the change, which can make it difficult to implement and sustain.

What steps need to be taken to ensure that a newly implemented change becomes part of the organizational culture and address missed key factors that reversed change?

To ensure that a newly implemented change becomes part of the organizational culture, there are several steps that organizations can take. First and foremost, it is important to involve employees in the change process. This can be done by providing them with information about the change, seeking their input and feedback, and involving them in the decision-making process (Syakur et al., 2020). By involving employees in the change process, they will feel more invested and committed to the change, which will increase the chances of its success. Additionally, it is crucial to communicate the benefits of the change to employees. This can be done through regular communication channels such as meetings, newsletters, and employee forums. By communicating the benefits of the change, employees will understand why the change is necessary and how it will benefit the organization and its members. This will increase their motivation and willingness to adopt new behaviours and processes.

Another step that organizations can take to ensure that a change becomes part of the organizational culture is to create new habits and routines that support the change. This can be done by providing training and support to help employees adapt to the change, and by creating processes and procedures that make it easier for employees to adopt the change (Syakur et al., 2020). By creating new habits and routines, employees will be more likely to integrate the change into their daily work and make it a part of their work culture. In the event that a change is reversed, it is important to identify the key factors that led to the reversal. In our organization, the key factor that reversed the change was a lack of clear communication and training on how to use the software system. Employees were not properly trained on how to use the system, and there was a lack of follow-up to ensure that the system was being used as intended. To prevent this from happening in the future, it is crucial that employees are properly trained on how to use the system, and that there is ongoing communication and support to ensure that the system is being used correctly.


Lillis, B., & Szwejczewski, M. (2015). Sustaining change in manufacturing companies. 
Management Services, 
59(1), 40-42.

Syakur, A., Susilo, T. A. B., Wike, W., & Ahmadi, R. (2020). Sustainability of communication, organizational culture, cooperation, trust and leadership style for lecturer commitments in higher education. 
Budapest International Research and Critics Institute (BIRCI-Journal): Humanities and Social Sciences, 
3(2), 1325-1335.

Part Two


Change management is a crucial aspect of any organization, especially in the field of human resources. The recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation are all critical components of an organization’s human capital management. This paper will discuss how First Independence Bank (FIB) can apply Kotter’s eight steps of change management to a selected HR situation, specifically the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation. The discussion will also develop a strategy that illustrates how each of the eight stages of change can be addressed.

Step 1: Establishing a sense of urgency

This is the first step in change management and is crucial for creating a sense of urgency and need for change within an organization. It is the process of identifying and communicating the problems or challenges that the organization is facing, and the potential consequences of not addressing them (Rajan & Ganesan, 2017). This step helps to create a sense of urgency among the employees, stakeholders and leadership team to take action and make changes.

In the case of First Independence Bank (FIB), the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation process have been in place for several years, and they have become outdated. The organization is facing a high turnover rate, and the recruitment process is not attracting the right candidates. The onboarding process is not effective, and the training process is not aligned with the organization’s goals. The performance evaluation process is not providing meaningful feedback to employees. Therefore, it is imperative that FIB establishes a sense of urgency around the need to change the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation process. The sense of urgency can be created by highlighting the problems or challenges that the organization is facing through data and statistics. For example, can share the potential consequences of not addressing the problems, such as losing talented employees and the financial costs associated with a high turnover rate.

Step 2: Creating a coalition

A coalition is a collection of individuals or representatives from various organizational departments or functions who are drawn together to lead and drive change. The coalition should include people from various organizational levels, departments, and specialized fields. It is essential that FIB brings together key stakeholders from different departments, such as human resources, finance, operations, and marketing, to work towards a common goal of improving the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation process.

Creating a coalition helps to ensure that the change process is inclusive and that different perspectives and ideas are taken into account. The coalition can also act as a sounding board for ideas and can provide feedback on the proposed changes. Additionally, the coalition can also act as change ambassadors, communicating the vision and strategy for the change process to their respective departments and teams (Hayes, 2022). To create a coalition, FIB can start by identifying key stakeholders from different departments and functions within the organization. These stakeholders should be individuals who are committed to the change process and who have the necessary skills, knowledge, and influence to drive change. FIB can then invite these stakeholders to participate in a coalition and provide them with the necessary training and resources to lead and drive change.

Step 3: Developing vision and strategy

The third step in change management is to develop a vision and strategy. This step is important because it helps to provide direction and guidance for the change process. In the case of FIB, the vision for the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation process should be to attract, retain, and develop the best talent for the organization. The strategy should be to improve the recruitment process by using modern technologies and techniques, such as social media and video interviewing, to attract the right candidates. The onboarding process should be improved by providing new employees with a comprehensive orientation program that includes an introduction to the organization’s culture, values, and goals. The training process should be aligned with the organization’s goals and should be focused on developing the skills and knowledge needed to achieve those goals (Cameron & Green, 2019). The performance evaluation process should be improved by providing employees with regular and meaningful feedback that helps them to improve their performance.

Developing the vision and strategy for the change process involves conducting research, gathering data, and consulting with key stakeholders. The coalition established in step 2 can play a key role in this step, providing input and feedback on the proposed vision and strategy. The leadership team should also be involved in this step to ensure that the vision and strategy are aligned with the organizations’ overall goals and objectives (Lewis, 2019). Once the vision and strategy are developed, it is important to communicate them to all employees in a clear and concise manner. This will help to ensure that everyone within the organization understands the vision and the strategy for the change process, and that they are engaged and committed to achieving it.

Step 5: Empowering broad-based action

The fifth step in change management is to empower broad-based action. This step is important because it helps to ensure that everyone within the organization is engaged and committed to the change process. In this case it is important that the FIB employees are empowered to take action and contribute to the change process. This can be achieved by involving employees in the development of the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation process. Employees can be given the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve the process. It also includes providing employees with the necessary training and resources to implement the changes.

Empowering broad-based action also means giving employees the autonomy and authority to make decisions and take action. This can be achieved by providing employees with clear roles and responsibilities, as well as the necessary decision-making authority. This can help to ensure that employees are fully engaged and committed to the change process, and that they are able to take ownership of the changes and see them through to completion.

Step 6: Generating short-term wins

Short-term wins are small, measurable, and achievable goals that can be achieved relatively quickly, and they help to demonstrate the benefits of the changes to employees. These wins can be used to measure the progress of the change process and to build support for the changes among employees and stakeholders. It is important to set realistic and achievable goals for the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation process. These goals can be used to measure the progress of the change process and to demonstrate the benefits of the changes to employees. Examples of short-term wins could include increasing the number of applicants, reducing the time to fill a position, or improving employee retention.

Setting short-term wins can help to ensure that employees and stakeholders are aware of the progress of the change process and that they can see the benefits of the changes. This can help to build support for the changes among employees and stakeholders, and it can also help to keep employees engaged and motivated (Lewis, 2019). Additionally, achieving short-term wins can also serve as a source of motivation and morale boost for employees, encouraging them to continue working towards the long-term goals.

Step 7: Consolidating gains and producing more change

The seventh step in change management is to consolidate gains and produce more change. This step is important because it helps to ensure that the changes are sustained over the long-term. In the case of FIB, it is important to monitor and evaluate the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation process on a regular basis. This will help to identify any areas where further improvements can be made. It is also important to provide ongoing training and support to employees to ensure that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to implement the changes (Harmon, 2019).

Step 8: Anchoring new approaches into the culture

The eighth step in change management is to anchor new approaches into the culture. This step is important because it helps to ensure that the changes become part of the organization’s culture. It is essential for the organization to ensure that the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation process are integrated into the organization’s culture. This can be achieved by promoting the changes through company-wide communications and by recognizing and rewarding employees who demonstrate the values and behaviors associated with the changes.


Change management is a crucial aspect of any organization, and it is especially important in the field of human resources. The recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation are all critical components of an organization’s human capital management. First Independence Bank (FIB) can apply Kotter’s eight steps of change management to a selected HR situation, specifically the recruitment process, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation. It has also developed a strategy that illustrates how each of the eight stages of change can be addressed. By following these eight steps, FIB can ensure that the changes are implemented effectively and that they are sustained over the long-term.


Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2019). 
Making sense of change management: A complete guide to the models, tools and techniques of organizational change. Kogan Page Publishers.

Harmon, P. (2019). 
Business process change: a business process management guide for managers and process professionals. Morgan Kaufmann.

Hayes, J. (2022). 
The theory and practice of change management. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Lewis, L. (2019). Organizational change. In 
Origins and Traditions of Organizational Communication (pp. 406-423). Routledge.

Rajan, R., & Ganesan, R. (2017). A critical analysis of John P. Kotter’s change management framework. 
Asian Journal of Research in Business Economics and Management, 
7(7), 181-203.

Resistance and Communication

There are two parts to this assignment.

Part One:

Write a one-page paper. From the article, 

When Does Voice Lead to Exit? It Depends on Leadership

, (attached) analyze the three characteristics that demonstrate readiness to lead change. Conclude which characteristics or behaviors tend to increase employee turnover and/or demonstrate the manager’s inability to properly lead change. Use at least one reference.

Part Two:

Using your selected organization (FIB), diagnose the organization’s level of resistance, and construct a solid communication plan. Submit a 4–6-page paper


Write a 4–6-page paper in which you:

Diagnose the reasons for resistance to change.

Interpret the potential causes of resistance in the organization. Identify and describe three potential causes of resistance to your change plan. Identify and describe three potential sources of resistance to your change plan.

Create a plan for minimizing possible resistance to your change management plan.

Elaborate on the relationship between resistance to change and communication.

Evaluate three communication strategies.

Recommend one communication strategy that would be applicable to your organization. Diagnose why this communication strategy is best for your organization.

Create a solid communication plan for your change initiative.

Use at least five quality academic resources in this assignment. Note: Wikipedia and other similar Websites do not qualify as academic resources.

Rubric: Resistance and Communication

Diagnose the reasons for resistance to change.–

Levels of Achievement:

Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points

Needs Improvement 10.5 (7.50%) points

Competent 11.9 (8.50%) points

Exemplary 14 (10.00%) points

Interpret the potential causes of resistance in the organization. Identify and describe three potential causes of resistance to your change plan. Identify and describe three potential sources of resistance to your change plan.–

Levels of Achievement:
Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points

Needs Improvement 15.75 (11.25%) points

Competent 17.85 (12.75%) points

Exemplary 21 (15.00%) points

Create a plan for minimizing possible resistance to your change management plan.–

Levels of Achievement:
Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points
Needs Improvement 15.75 (11.25%) points
Competent 17.85 (12.75%) points
Exemplary 21 (15.00%) points

Elaborate on the relationship between resistance to change and communication.–

Levels of Achievement:
Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points
Needs Improvement 10.5 (7.50%) points
Competent 11.9 (8.50%) points
Exemplary 14 (10.00%) points

Evaluate three communication strategies.–

Levels of Achievement:
Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points
Needs Improvement 10.5 (7.50%) points
Competent 11.9 (8.50%) points
Exemplary 14 (10.00%) points

Recommend one communication strategy that would be applicable to your organization. Diagnose why this communication strategy is best for your organization.–

Levels of Achievement:
Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points
Needs Improvement 15.75 (11.25%) points
Competent 17.85 (12.75%) points
Exemplary 21 (15.00%) points

Create a solid communication plan for your change initiative.–

Levels of Achievement:
Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points
Needs Improvement 10.5 (7.50%) points
Competent 11.9 (8.50%) points
Exemplary 14 (10.00%) points

Four References.–

Levels of Achievement:
Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points

Needs Improvement 5.25 (3.75%) points

Competent 5.95 (4.25%) points

Exemplary 7 (5.00%) points

Clarity or coherence in presentation and writing mechanics–

Levels of Achievement:
Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points
Needs Improvement 5.25 (3.75%) points
Competent 5.95 (4.25%) points
Exemplary 7 (5.00%) points

Met formatting requirements, including one page summary for presentation option.–

Levels of Achievement:
Unacceptable 0 (0.00%) points
Needs Improvement 5.25 (3.75%) points
Competent 5.95 (4.25%) points
Exemplary 7 (5.00%) points


® Academy of Management Journal
2013. Vol. 56. No. 2. 525-548.



Cornell University

University of Texas-Aust


Cornell University

We examine the unit-level relationship between employee voice and exit with multi-
source data collected over two time periods in 136 restaurants. We find that three
managerial characteristics that signal the ability and willingness to engage in change—
management team change orientation, manager participation in decision making, and
manager access to organizational resources—moderate the unit-level relationship be-
tween voice and exit: Employee voice is positively related to turnover when each of
these factors is low and negatively related to turnover when each is high. Implication


for research on voice, leadership, and turnover are discussed.

When employees experience problems or ob-
serve opportunities for improvement at work, d


they engage in improvement-oriented voice—that
is, speak up in ways that challenge the status quo to
someone with the perceived power to act (Detert &
Burris, 2007)? Or do they exit their organization in
response to these suboptimal situations? Questions
such as these about employee voice and exit have
been of interest to organizational scholars at least
since Hirschman (1970), in his exit-loyalty-voice
(ELV) framework, laid the groundwork for exami-
nation of these responses to dissatisfaction with
some aspect of an organization’s functioning o


product line. In the subsequent decades, scholars
have attempted to understand why employees
speak up or exit by treating these behaviors as
discrete, mutually exclusive choices that each in-
dividual employee makes because of his or her
dissatisfaction (Rusbult, Farrell, Rogers, & Main-
ous, 1988; Rusbuh, Zembrodt, & Gunn, 1982). Be-
cause voice can lead to examination of underlying
causes and cures of employee dissatisfaction, in
contrast to exit or silent loyalty, it is seemingly the
response most likely to contribute directly to organ-
izational learning (Withey & Cooper, 1989). It is
therefore not surprising that scholars and practitio-
ners alike have become increasingly focused on
understanding the antecedents and outcomes of
discretionary, improvement-oriented input by em-
ployees (Detert & Biu-ris, 2007; Morrison, 2011; Van

Dyne & LePine, 1998). Simultaneously, under-
standing of the dynamics underlying employee
ttirnover (i.e., exit) continues to develop on the
basis of several decades of focused theory and re-
search (Griffeth, Hom, & Gaertner, 2000; Lee &
Mitchell, 1994; Maertz & Griffeth, 2004).

As noted first by Barry (1974), by suggesting that
voice and exit are directly inversely related,
Hirschman may have misspecified the model by
combining into one what is actually two distinct
choices for employees: (1) choosing voice or silence
and, (2) choosing to stay or exit their organization.
Taking Barry’s arguments seriously would imply
that, in line with Hirschman’s arguments, employ-
ees may sometimes speak up and remain in their
organization irrespective of how much or how
quickly things change. Or, contrary to Hirschman’s
model, employees may speak up and subsequently
exit the organization because of what happens (or
fails to) in response to voice. Yet these possibilities
remain largely unexplored in organizational re-
search (Btirris, Detert, & Chiabiu’u, 2008; Morrison,
2011), despite the costliness of turnover for organ-
izations. Thus, we examine the relationship be,-
tween voice and exit to begin to understand the
conditions under which employee voice leads to
higher or lower rates of exit.

We further depart from prior research in the
Hirschman tradition, and some of the logic on
which it rests, by examining the relationship be-


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526 Academy of Management Journal April

tween voice and exit at the unit, rather than indi-
vidual, level. We do so for two reasons. First, the
very nature of voice as a prosocial behavior in the
organizational literature (Organ, Podsakoff, &
MacKenzie, 2006) suggests that the improvements
stemming from the input of any one employee
should have spillovers that affect a broader work
environment. That is, voice is a “discretionary ex-
pression of change-oriented comments” intended
to “to benefit others, such as the organization” (Van
Dyne, Ang, & Botero, 2003: 1370-1371; see Detert
and Burris [2007] and Morrison and Millik


[2000] for similar definitions). To be prosocial, and
thus meet organizational scholars’ definition of
voice, an employee’s input about needed improve-
ments does not primarily benefit just the one indi-
vidual who spe^cs up, but instead has the possibil-
ity of bettering the situation for a broader set of
employees around the speaker (Grant & Mayer,
2009). Despite the fact that managers form in-
groups and out-groups among their subordinates
(Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975; Liden, Sparrowe,
& Wayne, 1997) and primarily attend to suggestions
made bj’ only those in their in-group (Biu-ris, Rod-
gers, Mannix, Hendron, & Oldroyd, 2009), the
changes that do or do not occur in a unit as a result
of voice are not readily allocated only to favored
members. Organizational scholars have long recog-
nized this collective aspect of voice in noting its
potential positive outcomes for a unit (versus only
individuals who spoke up); these outcomes include
learning (Edmondson, 2003), better error detection
(Argyris & Scbön, 1978), innovation (Nemeth,
1997), and change effectiveness (Morrison & Mil-
liken, 2000). Likewise, many or all of a unit’s em-
ployees—not just those who spoke up—should
continue to experience dissatisfaction and associ-
ated negative outcomes when voice is ignored or
disregarded. Thus, both the nature of employee
voice behavior through its focus on collective im-
provement, and decades of organizational theory
and research indicating that employee attitudes,
behaviors, and outcomes in a defined unit are so-
cially influenced and interdependent (e.g., Ibarra &
Andrews, 1993; Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978), suggest
the importance of moving beyond the implied as-
sumption in Hirschman’s model that each employ-
ee’s satisfaction, voice, and relationship status with
an organization can be considered independently
and devoid of the larger social context.

Second, voice in itself does not automatically
make things better or worse for those who speak up
or anyone else. Instead, the potential value of voice

rests on what someone with the power to take
action—which usually means “management”—does
with the suggestions made. The next steps taken by
a manager can result in improvement for many in a
unit, in no meaningful change at all, or in a situa-
tion actually getting worse in employees’ minds.
When managers have the ability and motivation to
take action based on the prosocial suggestions of
their employees, voice should improve the morale
and decrease the rate of exit of employees in a unit
or an organization, including both those who spoke
up and the many others who did not. Likewise,
employees of all types should collectively feel that
employees, as a group, have some control over out-
comes (Barry & Shapiro, 2000; Greenberg, 2000), be
more satisfied with outcomes (Shapiro, 1993), and
thus be more likely to remain with their organiza-
tion because managers consider employees’ opin-
ions and make subsequent changes. Even if changes
are not always made as a result of their own or
others’ input, employees should be more likely to
choose to stay and less likely to be fired in envi-
ronments where management demonstrates a gen-
eral responsiveness to employee input (Tyler, 1987).

But not all managers are able and motivated to
take action on the suggestions made by their em-
ployees. The level of responsiveness and subse-
quent action taken by management to address is-
sues raised by employees varies (Detert & Burris,
2007), maldng the prospect of voice directly influ-
encing employee turnover contingent rather than
certain. When managers are not able or motivated
to address prosocial, improvement-oriented issues
raised, the broader set of employees, in addition to
the speaker(s), continues to experience the condi-
tions that prompted voice by some. This, in turn,
should lead more members of tbat unit to conclude
that it is futile to speak up (Detert & Trevino, 2010;
Morrison & Milliken, 2000), to lose faith that man-
agers will make necessary improvements (Milliken,
Morrison, & Hewlin, 2003), and, thus, to leave the
firm. To regain a sense of perceived control and
equity, employees who feel impotent in the face of
nonresponsive, nonimproving conditions may be-
gin to give less of themselves to their organization,
perform less well (Blader & Tyler, 2009), or even
engage in deviant behaviors (Skarlicki & Folger,
1997). As a result, managers may take steps to re-
move employees who passively or actively under-
mine the attainment of the goals of the managers’
units (Giàcalone & Greenberg, 1997; Litsky, Ed-
dleston, & Kidder, 2006; PariUa, Hollinger, & Clark,
1988). Thus, voice may increase the level of subse-

2013 McGlean, Burris, and Detert 527

quent turnover in a unit if managers are not

In this article we therefore examine the unit-level
relationship between voice and exit among groups
of employees who share a work environment and
argue that this relationship is contingent on mana-
gerial responsiveness to voice. More specifically,
we argue that the relationship between unit-level
voice and exit depends on three characteristics of
managerial responsiveness: whether the managers
who receive it (the targets of voice) have access to
organizational resources to implement change;
whether they are able to participate actively in
organizational decision making; and the change
orientation of the management team. These pro-
posed moderators reflect whether management is
able and motivated to respond to employee sugges-
tions for improvement in ways that affect subse-
quent turnover.

In what follows, we begin by explaining in detail
why the proposed unit-level relationship between
employee voice and employee turnover is contin-
gent on the responsiveness of managers. Then, be-
fore testing the three proposed moderating hypoth-
eses, we directly examine the premise that
employees in general, not just speakers or favored
employees, share improvements stemming from
managerial responsiveness to voice. We do so
through an analysis of 3,388 open-ended sugges-
tions for change from employees of a national res-
taurant chain wherein coders considered whether
managerial responsiveness to a suggestion would ‘
benefit primarily the individual who provided the
input or, as argued here, multiple employees in the
same unit. Finally, we test our hypotheses using
multisource, longitudinal perceptual and objective
data from 5,200 employees, 372 managers, and 136
general managers in the same organization.

Our work makes three primary contributions.
First, we demonstrate the clear value of attending
theoretically and empirically to the inherently
prosocial, collective nature of voice and its out-
comes in work settings. We extend Hirschman’s
(1972) framework by focusing on the social context
in which employee voice takes place, arguing that
the benefits of successfully addressing employee
voice extend beyond the focal individual speaking
up; voice can affect the rate of turnover for others in
the individual’s unit whose performance or well-
being are likewise affected by the issues raised.
Second, oiu: study extends scholars’ understanding
of the complex relationship between voice and exit
by showing how voice can increase or decrease

employee turnover depending on the degree to
which managers display characteristics reflecting
the motivation and ability to respond. We also
demonstrate the importance to theory and practice
of considering management behaviors not only as
antecedents to voice behavior (Detert & Burris,
2007; Edmondson, 1999) but also as moderators of
its effects. Third, our study contributes to the unit-
level turnover literatvire by considering how and
why improvement-oriented voice, and managerial
responsiveness to it, help explain this critical or-
ganizational outcome.


Many voice scholars have argued that voice is
good for work units and organizations (e.g., Morri-
son, 2011). High levels of voice can be indicative of
a learning environment in which employees and
managers actively engage in activities to continu-
ously reduce errors, improve organizational rou-
tines, and produce innovations (Argyris & Schön,
1978; Edmondson, 2003; Moscovici & Nemeth,
1974). Employees in strong learning environments
should be more likely to stay (i.e., turnover should
be lower) because their situation likely improves as
a result of the implementation of improvement-
oriented ideas and because they likely feel invigo-
rated by membership in an innovative environment
in which their input is regularly considered (Sha-
piro, 1993). Voice scholars have also acknowl-
edged, though, that not all such “high-voice” envi-
ronments are likely to experience positive
outcomes. Continued managerial inability or un-
willingness to respond effectively to voice can re-
sult in widely shared futility perceptions among
employees (Detert & Trevino, 2010; Dutton & Ash-
ford, 1993) and a broad climate in which employ-
ees feel impotent, not valued, and no longer willing
to put forth high levels of effort. In these environ-
ments, employees should be more likely to volun-
tarily remove themselves from the organization or
be forced to exit as a consequence of their deterio-
rated attitude and work performance.

We argue that the responsiveness of unit manag-
ers will play an important role in determining
when voice will lead to less or more exit in a unit.
Añer all, employees speak up because they cannot
fix problems or pursue opportunities by them-
selves, needing instead someone with more formal
power to address the issues they have identified
(Detert & Burris, 2007). Managerial responsiveness

528 Academy of Management Journal April

can he captured hy two dimensions. First, the ahil-
ity to respond to voice may enable or impede man-
agers (Armenakis & Bedeian, 1999; Kotter, 1996).
Such ability may stem from access to organiza-
tional resources necessary to investigate, imple-
ment, and institutionalize organizational changes
(Damanpour, 1991; Kraatz & Zajac, 2001; Singh,
1986). Without access to resources, managers will
be less able to experiment with changes and thus be
limited to a focus on efficient execution of current
policies and practices (March, 1991). And, hecause
most managers are not in a position to unilaterally
decide on changes, responsiveness to voice from
below also likely hinges on a manager’s influence
on decisions made hy more senior leaders (Detert &
Trevino, 2010; Glauser, 1984). Second, managers’
overall motivation or orientation toward change
may affect how they respond to voice (Beer, 2009).
This managerial orientation involves a proactive
identification of problems and opportunities and a
proclivity to take action to address what has been
surfaced (Detert & Burris, 2007; Grant & Ashford,
2008; Saunders, Sheppard, Knight, & Rofli, 1992).

We examine below three specific factors that sig-
nal managers’ ability and motivation to respond to
voice and therefore affect the likelihood of subse-
quent turnover in a unit. We begin hy examining
managers’ perceived access to the organizational
resources needed to respond to employee input as a
factor influencing the unit-level voice-exit relation-
ship. Next, we examine managers’ level of partici-
pation in higher-level decision making as a reflec-
tion of their ability to enact change in their own
units. Finally, we examine the change orientation
of the management team that must address em-
ployee voice. Figure 1 summarizes our theoreti-
cal model.

Unit Manager Access to
Organizational Resources

Organizational resources, such as those used for
training and development programs, marketing, or
new process implementation, are necessary for im-
provement and adaptation in organizations (Cohen
& Levinthal, 1990; Kraatz & Zajac, 2001; Nohria &
Gulati, 1996). These resources, however, are often
unequally distributed throughout an organization
(Pfeffer, 1981), and accessing them is at least par-
tially a function of manager proactivity and skill
(Graen, Cashman, Ginsburgh, & Schiemann, 1977;
Molm, 1990). Managers who are able to acquire
resources will be more capable of making changes
(Levinthal & March, 1993; March, 1991) because
they will have the necessary capital, whether hu-
man or financial, to devote to improvement activi-
ties (Kraatz & Zajac, 2001). Without the slack cre-
ated hy additional resources, managers axe less able
to experiment with changes and are confined to a
focus on efficient execution of current policies and
practices (March, 1991).

The extent to which managers garner access to
resources should affect the voice-exit relationship
hecause resources give managers the ability to act
on or at least seriously consider employees’ input.
When a unit manager can access resources from
elsewhere in her or his organization, the support
that the manager gets in the form of these resources
trickles down to lower-level employees (Erdogan &
Enders, 2007), who are thus likely to view hoth
their manager and the organization she/he embod-
ies as supportive and responsive (Eisenberger et al.,
2010). For example, if employees speak up about an
issue that is detrimental to their work unit (such
as insufficiently trained new hires performing

Theoretical Model

Manager Access


Participation in

Decision Making

Employee Voice
(unit level)

Team Change

Employee Turnover
(unit level)

2013 McClean, Burris, and Detert 529

poorly], managers need resources to invest in more
or better training programs and to keep their units
appropriately staffed diu-ing the training. When a
unit’s manager can obtain the necessary resources
and properly train new hires, others in the unit
who were negatively affected by the performance of
new hires—not just the one or few who spoke up—
should feel better about the unit. Specifically, be-
cause the manager was able to obtain resources to
respond to voice, employees should feel that the
organization’s agents care about tbeir well-being
and experience a heightened sense of organiza-
tional support (Shanock & Eisenberger, 2006]. The
decision to stay in the organization is one way
employees who benefit from managerial respon-
siveness can demonstrate reciprocity for organiza-
tional support (Erdogan & Enders, 2007; Rhoades &
Eisenberger, 2002].

Conversely, where managers lack access to re-
sources needed to address upward input, employ-
ees will grow increasingly frustrated by the lack of
responsiveness and feel that an organization is less
supportive (Shanock & Eisenberger, 2006]. Because
managers are seen as embodiments of an organiza-
tion’s values (Eisenberger et al., 2010], managerial
inability to respond to employees’ voice because of
lack of resources is likely to be experienced by
employees as organizational disinterest in them
and their ideas for improvement (Rhoades & Eisen-
berger, 2002]. When employees reach the conclu-
sion that they are not being supported by their
organization, they are more likely to quit (Allen,
Shore, & Griffeth, 2003]. Or they may withdraw
from the organization in more indirect ways
(Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002]. As is well known
from equity theory, when employees perceive an
imbalance between what they give and what they
receive, they often attempt to restore equity by en-
gaging in counterproductive work behaviors, being
absent, or underperforming (Adams, 1965]. In this
way, employees’ legitimate frustration about work
conditions cind lack of satisfying managerial re-
sponse can lead to inappropriate responses that
ultimately get employees fired (Giacalone & Green-
berg, 1997; Litsky et al., 2006; Pariila et al., 1988].
For example, employees who do not get promised
raises or necessary support through additional hir-
ing or training because a manager lacks access to
resources may end up being terminated for the
shirking, stealing, or other unacceptable behavior
that they resort to.

Taken together, these arguments suggest that
when employees speak up and managers do not

have access to resources to address their ideas and
concerns, employees will develop attitudes and en-
gage in behaviors that lead to increased voluntary
and involuntary exit.

Hypothesis 1. A unit manager’s access to or-
ganizational resources moderates the unit-
level relationship between employee voice and
exit: The relationship between voice and exit is
negative when the manager’s access to organ-
izational resources is high and positive when
the manager’s access to organizational re-
sources is low.

Unit Manager Participation in Decision Making

The structure of most organizations of even mod-
est size is such that most managers are subordinate
to other managers—that is, most bosses also have
bosses. Thus, most middle managers serve as “link-
ing pins” between organizational levels, working to
synchronize operating activities at one level with
broader strategic imperatives at higher levels (Lik-
ert, 1967]. From a top-down perspective, this link-
ing role may be seen as managers at one level im-
plementing the decisions made at higher levels.
However, middle- and lower-level managers often
have their fingers on the pulse of their organization
in such a way that effective linking also means they
participate in decision making by helping higher-
level leaders understand what is needed to success-
fully implement strategic directives and which di-
rectives do not fit the reality faced by lower-level
employees (Dutton & Jackson, 1987; Nonaka, 1988].

Managers who influence the decision-making
process of senior-level managers have the ability to
advocate for issues that employees raise. Having
input from their ranks considered in higher-level
decision making should increase employees’ sense
of procedural justice (Avery & Quiñones, 2002; Thi-
baut & Walker, 1975] because it reaffirms that their
proximal manager and those higher in their organ-
ization value employees and their ideas (Lind &
Tyler, 1988]. For example, if some employees speak
up with ideas for improving customer service rou-
tines that repeatedly lead to customer complaints,
participation in higher-level decision making in-
creases the likelihood that a local manager can
make the changes needed to address employees’
input. Because employees discuss among them-
selves how their managers respond to their input
and recognize that they are collectively affected by
any changes that result (Leung & Li, 1990; Nau-

530 Academy of Management Journal April

maim & Bennett, 2000), they often develop a shared
sense of procedural justice (Colquitt, Noe, & Jack-
son, 2002). Thus, when a manager is able to suc-
cessfully advocate for rank-and-file ideas for im-
provement to higher-level leaders, a greater number
of employees within the manager’s unit should feel
that decisions made in their work environment are
just and should thus be more likely to stay in the
organization (Masterson, Lewis, Goldman, & I’ay-
lor, 2000; Simons & Roberson, 2003).

In contrast, if managers have limited ability to
make changes in their own units because they are
unable to influence higher-level decision making,
employees will be less likely to feel that the organ-
ization considers problems and ideas of people at
their level (Thibaut & Walker, 1975). In this case,
employees will .view the organization as less fair
and will be more likely to exit (Masterson et al.,
2000). For example, if their manager is unable to
influence higher-level leaders to make improve-
ments to a particular food preparation process that
is cumbersome, wasteful, and potentially danger-
ous, a restaurant’s employees are more likely to feel
disgruntled and disappointed and to subsequently
leave the organization. When managers cannot par-
ticipate in and influence decision making, some
employees (whether they spoke up about an issue
or not) may also respond to the perceived unfair-
ness of their situation, and the feelings this evokes,
by taking action directly against the organization
(Folger & Cropanzano, 1998). Counterproductive
work behaviors (Fox, Spector, & Miles, 2001), un-
derperformance (Bagozzi, 2003), and absenteeism
(Hausknecht, Hiller, & Vance, 2008) are all poten-
tial responses to the frustration and negative emo-
tions employees experience when they feel they are
being treated unfairly or they are unable to control
their own environment. When employees engage in
these types of behaviors, they are more likely to get
fired (Giacalone & Greenberg, 1997; Litsky et al.,
2006; Parilla et al., 1988). Therefore, when employ-
ees speak up to the manager of a unit who does not
participate in higher-level decision making, em-
ployees in that unit will collectively be more likely
to leave the organization either voluntarily or

Hypothesis 2. A unit manager’s participation
in decision making moderates the unit-level
relationship between employee voice and exit:
The relationship between voice and exit is neg-
ative when the manager’s participation in de-
cision making is high and positive when the

manager’s participation in decision making
is low.

Management Team Change Orientation

Despite popular deification of single leaders,
strategic interpretation and decisions to make im-
provements are usually not made exclusively by
just one person (Burgelman & Sayles, 1986; Chan-
dler, 1962; Drucker, 1974; Mintzberg, 1973). In-
stead, management teams, often comprised of lead-
ers and their direct reports, share collective
responsibility for interpreting strategic issues and
creating change. Specifically, management teams
will be effective at creating change and signaling to
employees that they are willing to make changes to
the extent that members work well together to spot
issues, make improvement plans, and commit col-
lectively to implementing decisions (Chandler,
1962; Hackman, 1987; March & Simon, 1958;
Yukl, 2002).

When employees speak up and a management
team is more change oriented, employees will view
their managers as willing to experiment and as not
overly committed to the status quo (Hambrick,
Geletkanycz, & Fredrickson, 1993; Kanter, 1983).
Given that one of the roles of those in charge is to
direct and control change in aii organization (Mint-
zberg, 1973) and that such an orientation fits most
people’s “implicit leader theory” (Epitropaki &
Martin, 2004; Sch)ais & Meindl, 2005), employees
likely expect “good” managers to be motivated to
identify and work together to address opportiuiities
to improve their organization (Porter & Steers,
1973). When this occurs, employees will feel that
their organization (through its management team)
has met its obligations to respond to their ideas for
improvement (Morrison & Robinson, 1997). For ex-
ample, if a group of workers is having trouble serv-
ing customers quickly enough, the management
team comprised of shift supervisors and the general
manager will need to work together in a coordi-
nated fashion to identify the underlying issues,
make an improvement plan, and successfully im-
plement it. If management teams can routinely do
these things, employees should, as a group, be more
likely to feel that managers have fulfilled their ob-
ligations to address employees’ concerns (Ho,
2005), and thus be more likely to stay.

But not all managers are equally open-minded
about or committed to change (Hambrick et al.,
1993). When employees speak up and their local
management team is less change oriented, em-

2013 McClean, Burris, and Detert 531

ployee expectations about good management will
be unmet (Mintzberg, 1973; Porter & Steers, 1973).
Because local managers are seen as embodiments of
their larger organization (Eisenberger et al., 2010;
Levinson, 1965), employees will likely also con-
clude to some extent that that the organization as a
whole is not responsive to employees’ needs or
ideas for improvement. Such beliefs can lead to
employees’ conclusion that their implicit or psy-
chological contract with the organization is being
breached (Robinson, 1996; Rousseau & McLean
Parks, 1993). Employees may respond to this un-
satisfactory state by quitting (Rousseau, 1995) or by
expressing their frustration and disappointment
through organizational deviance (Bordia, Restubog,
& Tang, 2008; Kidwell & Bennett, 1993). Counter-
productive work behaviors, such as theft or sabo-
tage, often stem from unaddressed dissatisfying
work conditions (Robinson & Bennett, 1997) and
from employees’ perception that the organization
has failed to live up to obligations and expectations
(Robinson & Rousseau, 1994). Alternatively, em-
ployees may engage in less severe, yet still disrup-
tive, behaviors such as slapping work (Hausknecht
et al., 2008) or withholding effort (Kidwell & Ben-
nett, 1993; Turnley, Bolino, Lester, & Bloodgood,
2003) in response to a lethargic management re-
sponse. Regardless of the specific means, most em-
ployee responses to their frustration and disap-
pointment are likely to be undesirable from
management’s perspective and thus increase em-
ployees’ likelihood of being fired (Giacalone &
Greenberg, 1997; Litsky et al., 2006; PariUa et al.,
1988). Taken together, the above arguments suggest
that employee voice targeted to less change-
oriented management teams will lead to a higher
incidence of overall exit by those management
teams’ employees.

Hypothesis 3. A unit management team’s
change orientation moderates the unit-level re-
lationship between employee voice and exit:
The relationship between voice and exit is neg-
ative when management team change orienta-
tion is high and positive when management
team change orientation is low.


We collected both qualitative and quantitative
data from employees of 136 restaurants in four
divisions of a corporation-owned chain located in
21 states throughout the United States. Each restau-

rant employs three types of workers: one general
manager (GM) per restaurant, restaurant shift su-
pervisors (approximately 2-7 per restaurant), and
hourly employees (e.g., cooks and servers; approx-
imately 20-80 per restaurant).

We obtained 3,388 qualitative responses from
(58 percent of) the hourly employees who com-
pleted our entire survey in the 136 restaurants. The
comments reflect written responses to the open-
ended question. What is the one thing that would
improve this restaurant as a place to work? We
coded these employee suggestion data to assess
whether, in fact, most employee voice can right-
fully be considered prosocial—that is, whether sug-
gestions have the potential for broad benefit rather
than just improvement in the speaker’s well-being.
If employee suggestions have the potential to ben-
efit many employees (and an organization itself)
through actions taken by managers, this finding
would lend support to the contention that it is
appropriate and important to examine the unit-
level outcomes of voice.

We followed a rigorous process for coding the
open-ended comments to determine whether voice
is inherently prosocial—that is, likely to affect mul-
tiple employees if leaders take action on the sug-
gestions made. First, we used approximately 10
percent of the open-ended comments to hone a
coding scheme that categorized the comments into
three categories: (1) “speaker only”: comments that,
if responded to, would only affect the one em-
ployee speaking up; (2) “multiple people”: com-
ments that, if responded to, would affect multiple
employees in the speaker’s work unit; (3) “un-
clear”: comments for which the scope of beneficia-
ries could not be clearly determined. To be conser-
vative, we also included “split cases,” (when an
employee provided multiple ideas for improve-
ment, at least one of which could affect multiple
employees and at least one other of which would
only affect the speaker) in the third (“unclear”)
category. Next, the first author and a research as-
sistant (not otherwise involved in this research)
worked independently to code the remaining 3,028
employee comments. Interrater agreement on the
classification of these 3,028 employee improve-
ment suggestions was high, as evidenced by a
Cohen’s kappa of .92 (Landis & Koch, 1977). In a
subsequent discussion, the coders reached agree-
ment on the best classification for each of the small
number of comments they had initially coded

532 Academy of Management Journal April

The results of this coding overwhelmingly sup-
port organizational scholars’ definition of voice as a
prosocial behavior—that is, as one with the poten-
tial to benefit more than just the speaker if acted
upon: Approximately 94 percent of employees’
comments were coded as affecting the well-being of
more than just the speaker, with just 3 percent
being coded as affecting only the speaker and the
remaining 3 percent being coded as unclear in re-
gard to potential breadth of benefit. Sample com-
ments from each of these categories are shown in
Table 1. This result lends support to the notion that
an employee’s exit can be affected by managerial
responsiveness, or lack thereof, to the input pro-
vided by coworkers in the same unit as the

To test our three unit-level moderator hypothe-
ses, we used quantitative survey and objective data
from the 136 restaurants in our sample. We used
four different sources to avoid common method
and single soiu:ce problems. We collected our inde-
pendent variable (voice) from questionnaires ask-
ing the shift supervisors to rate each employee’s
level of voice. We assessed the moderator variables
(unit manager access to organizational resources,
unit manager participation in decision making, and
local management team change orientation) using
survey responses from GMs. Gontrol variables were

collected from a survey given to all employees and
from the GM surveys. The sin-vey data come from
5,200 employees, 372 managers, and the 136 res-
taurant general managers. The average survey re-
sponse rate per store was 74 percent, with a range
of from 24 to 100 percent. Objective turnover data
were provided by the corporate HR department.


Unit-level voice. We measured employees’ voice
expressed to their supervisors using three items
(a = .95) rated by their shift supervisors on a fre-
quency scale ranging from 1 (“almost never”) to 5
(“almost always”). In most cases, multiple supervi-
sors rated an employee’s level of voice (on average,
1.85 shift supervisors rated each employee, with a
maximum of 7 raters). We adapted items from Van
Dyne and LePine’s (1998) prosocial voice scale.
The items (prefaced by the words “This employee”)
were, “develops and makes recommendations con-
cerning the restaurant,” “speaks up and encourages
others to get involved in issues that affect the res-
taurant,” and “speaks up with ideas for new proj-
ects or changes in procedures.” We then aggregated
the ratings for employee voice to the restaurant
level and calculated aggregation statistics to test for
significant differences between restaurants. Specif-

Qualitative Data Analysis Coding Examples


Impact broader
tJaan input

Impact on
provider only

Unclear or


“I have been trying for the last 6 months to be cross-trained and the last 3 months to be a trainer and
neither has happened. I feel like I am being held back. I would like to be paid more for the work I do.’

“I have worked for the company for 3 years. I make $7.25 an hour and I do EOD, inventory, and
deposits. Why is this? I feel that I am not important to this company and what I do here means squat.”

“I would like to have flexible hours so I could have the days off that I want.”
“This place would be most improved as a place to work if I got off on time.”

“There should be two people in the dish room. One to wash and one to put away. I want more hours.”
“I think the guest count should be determined on those using the daily ACE.”
“I hate server side work! We should have a kickball team. I hate throwing away good food when

someone could eat it but we have to throw it away.”
“Seating charts.”


“Not paying your workers that have been here for 3+ years $7-58. Yet new hires sometimes walk
through the door making $8.50 and $9 and up—so this isn’t right. We as a company need to work on
paying our old hires more money for their jobs. Let’s make a change.”

“Better training for new associates. Our store has recently hired a bunch of new people but without the
adequate number of trainers available to train them. The results have been poorly trained and
uninformed new employees and less than adequate service.”

“The place needs to be better organized. There are too many mistakes, tbe rules aren’t followed strictly.
We run out of things (such as straws) and people leave without doing their sidework.”

“We need better service and faster food preparation. There are days where it takes 20 minutes for all our
food and drinks to come up. Tbis makes our servers look bad.”




2013 McClean, Burris, and Detert 533

ically, we computed ICCl, which reveals the extent
to which group membership predicts variability in
individual level responses, and ICC2, which esti-
mates the reliability of between-group differences
in a measure. Aggregation statistics indicated that
significant differences existed between restaurants
and that the unit-level voice construct was mea-
sured reliably (ICCl = 0.11, ICC2 = 0.76, p < .01)
(Bliese, 2000).

Unit managerial access to organizational re-
sources. We measured managerial access to organ-
izational resovirces using six items (a = .93). Be-
cause the measurement of resources varies
considerably across studies (Crook, Ketchen,
Comhs, & Todd, 2008), which highlights the con-
text specificity of this construct, we developed the
items through extensive interviews with senior
leaders from multiple levels of the studied organi-
zation. These leaders identified the specific re-
sources that they deemed necessary to make im-
provements and changes affecting the restaurants.
For instance, restaurant GMs often need access to
resources from higher in the organization for staff
training or to successfully make improvements to
operating policies or procedures in a specific res-
taurant. Thus, in conjunction with these senior
leaders, we developed items tapping the specific
resources that GMs could use to make material
changes internal to their restaurants: “The DM pro-
vides the necessary support for . . . “training,”
“marketing,” “new process implementation,”
“growth/development programs,” “evaluation and
planning,” and “communication to crew mem-
bers.” The items were rated by GMs on a scale
ranging from 1 (“never”) to 5 (“always”).

Unit manager participation in decision mak-
ing. We measured managerial participation in de-
cision making using three items (a =.91) based on
Siegel and Ruh’s (1973) five-item measure. The G


of each restaurant rated his/her participation in
decision making at the division level (i.e., the man-
agement level above him/her). The items were, “I
have influence on division managers’ (DM) deci-
sions affecting the restaurant”; “I participate in DM
decisions ahout my job”; and “I have influence on
DM decisions affecting me and my job.” GMs rated
these items on a scale ranging from 1 (“strongly
disagree”) to 5 (“strongly agree”).

Management team change orientation. We de-
veloped the items for management team change
orientation on the basis of the specific behaviors
that the organization’s leaders identified as critical
to creating change at the restaurant level. Before we

created these items, we scoured the literature for
appropriate items tapping improvement-oriented
management team behaviors. However, we did not
find a suitable measure. Most leadership measures
tap specific styles (behaviors) (e.g., relational or
task-oriented leadership [Yukl & Nemeroff, 1979]),
personality-driven behaviors (e.g., charismatic
leadership theories [Conger & Kanungo, 1998]), or
broad sets of hehavior that encompass but do not
directly measure specific behaviors that promote
changes (e.g., transformational leadership theories
[Bass & Avolio, 1994]). We thus developed a mea-
sure to assess specific behaviors that tap a manage-
ment team’s motivation to act upon and follow
through with improvement opportunities. We mea-
sured local management team’s change orientation
using two items [a = .68) rated hy the GM associ-
ated with a focal team. The GM is the most appro-
priate respondent to measiire a restaurant manage-
ment team’s change orientation hecause he or she
leads the team and is familiar with the functioning
of the entire team. The items were, “The manage-
ment team (including yourself). . .” “spots issues
quickly and does something ahout them” and
“makes improvement plans and sticks to them.”
GMs rated these items on a scale ranging from 1
(“never”) to 5 (“always”).

Unit-level turnover. We measured employee
tiunover as the rate at the restaurant level for the
six months after employee voice ratings were col-
lected. We used a six-month period hecause we
learned from discussions with the restaurant’s ex-
ecutive team (e.g., CEO, CFO, VP of operations) that
the restaurants operate in quarters and that they
believed that if employees spoke up with an idea
for improvement, most likely it would take one to
two quarters for the issue to he heard, vetted, and
addressed to the extent that improvement (or lack
of) could be assessed. Second, the average annual
turnover rate in this restaurant chain is 180 percent
per year, which means that a high percentage of the
employees who answered our surveys would no
longer he employed after six months (two quarters)
had passed. Thus, using a period shorter than
six months risked having insufficient time pass to
assess the potential impact of managerial respon-
siveness, hut using a longer one would lead to
using survey responses (i.e., independent and con-
trol variables) from employees who were predomi-
nantly no longer employed in the restaurant. Turn-
over data for each restaurant were captured from
the human resotu-ce records cleaned (i.e., stripped
of identifying personal information) and trans-

534 Academy of Management Journal April

ferred to us by the sponsor organization. Turnover
was measured as the number of employee exits as a
percent of the average number of employees be-
tween time 1 (beginning of month 1] and time 2
(end of six months after voice ratings were col-
lected]. We used the average number of employees
across the six months to account for fluctuations in
employee number; this measure is consistent with
previous computations of turnover (Price, 1977].

Control variables. Recent meta-analyses suggest
several antecedents that promote or inhibit turn-
over (Griffeth et al , 2000; Hom & Griffeth, 1995]. To
account for these mechanisms, as well as those that
might influence the relationship between voice and
exit, we used a variety of control variables. We first
controlled for several characteristics of each restau-
rant’s employees. We controlled for average em-
ployee tenure in each unit, which is one of the
strongest demographic predictors of turnover, be-
cause longer-tenured employees are less likely to
quit in subsequent periods (Griffetb et al., 2000].
Given that minority groups in the U.S. are more
likely to quit (Hom & Griffeth, 1995], we also con-
trolled for minority racial groups, measured as the
percentage of African American and Hispanic em-
ployees in each iniit.

Second, we controlled for several different em-
ployee attitudes—job satisfaction and justice per-
ceptions—as these can influence turnover. Job sat-
isfaction is the best job attitude predictor of
turnover; when employees are more satisfied, they
are less likely to leave or engage in actions that lead
to involuntary termination (Griffeth et al., 2000;
Hom & Griffeth, 1995]. We used one item (“Overafl
I am satisfied with this restaurant as a place to
work”] to measure job satisfaction, as global mea-
sures are appropriate to measinre an employee’s
satisfaction with her/his overall position within a
company (Ironson, Smith, Brannick, Gibson, &
Paul, 1989]. We controlled for interactional justice
perceptions, which refer to interpersonal treatment
received at a workplace, using items adapted from
Bies and Moag (1986]. Those employees who feel
that they are not treated in a polite manner or with
respect are more likely to voluntarily or involun-
tarily exit an organization (Aquino, Griffeth, Allen,
& Hom, 1997].

Third, we controlled for two leader characteris-
tics (Griffeth et al., 2000]. We controlled for abusive
supervision because previous research has shown
that employees who work under abusive leaders
are more likely to exit an organization (Tepper,
2000], We therefore used items adapted from Tep-

per’s (2000] abusive leadership scale to account for
this alternative explanation of turnover. Note that
each of these three individually measured percep-
tual control variables (overall satisfaction, justice,
and abusive leadership] also met commonly recom-
mended statistical thresholds for aggregation (e.g.,
all F-test values for ICCl significantly different
from zero at p < .01]. Second, we also controlled
for each GM's teniure at the company to account for
experience managing a restaurant and its employ-
ees. New GMs may also have not yet developed the
political capital in the organization needed to ob-
tain resources for making improvements or to be
influential in decisions affecting their restaiurant.

Fourth, we controlled for other restaurant char-
acteristics that can affect work environment and
subsequent tvu-nover rates, including size, age, date
of most recent store remodel, and being a training
restaurant. We controlled for restaurant size (mea-
sured as number of employees] because size has
been shown to be related to administrative com-
plexity and ttirnover in previous studies (Shaw,
Delery, Jenkins, & Gupta, 1998]. Restaurants were
considered new by senior leaders, and therefore not
yet comparable to established restaurants, if they
had been open for less than 18 months. We thus
included a dummy variable (0 = “open for more
than 18 months,” 1 = “open for less than
18 months”] to account for restaurant newness. We
also controlled for the number of months since
each restaurant had last been remodeled because
(as learned through interviews in the company],
this could affect work environment and subsequent
exit behavior. This association is consistent with
aspects of socio-technical systems theory (Trist,
Higgins, Murray, & Pollock, 1963] noting the im-
portance of the physical work environment to em-
ployee attitudes and behavior. Finally, we also
found that several restaurants were used for train-
ing new employees. New employees placed in
these restaurants for training purposes do not count
as full members of the training restaurants; they are
counted as members of their home restaurants.
Nonetheless, these training restaurants are chosen
because of tbeir exceptional performance and, thus,
the turnover rate for these restaurants should be
lower than those for others. Given their unique
purpose, we included a dummy variable (0 = “not
a training restaurant,” 1 = “training restaurant”] to
control for this condition.

Fifth, we accounted for external labor market
conditions, which have been recognized to affect
tiurnover rates (Griffeth et al., 2000]. We measured

2013 McClean, Burris, and Detert 535

both the number of blue-collar laborers and the
average household income within a three-mile ra-
dius of the restatirant. We obtained these statistics
from the marketing department of the chain’s cor-
porate headquarters, which drew them from pub-
licly available economic data (e.g., from the U.S.
Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Each of these variables controls for differences in
the external labor market that could affect oppor-
tunities for alternative employment. For example,
employees in areas with fewer blue-collar laborers
and higher average income may have differential
opportunities for alternative forms of similar em-
ployment, which could affect individuals’ deci-
sions to quit or to engage in risky behaviors that
might get them fired.

Analysis Strategy

Our analyses are conducted at the restaurant
level. Each restaurant is embedded in a district and,
further, in a division containing multiple districts.
Such groupings call into question whether the res-
taurant-level data are independent. Therefore, prior
to conducting our analyses, we employed multi-
level analyses to explicitly model the nonindepen-
dence resulting from restaurant division [n = 4)
and district [n = 32) groupings (Raudenbush &
Bryk, 2002). The between-division and between-
district variance are not statistically different from
zero, meaning that the variance attributable to each
higher level is insignificant in explaining variance
in otir restaurant-level dependent variable. There-
fore, we used ordinary least squares regression at
the restaurant level in the analyses reported here
(Gelman & Hill, 2007). The pattern and significance
of our results are unchanged if we employ multi-
level models.


We conducted confirmatory factor analysis
(CFA) to examine the discriminant validity of our
three moderator variables. Fit indexes from a CFA
model (e.g., RMSEA = 0.06, CFI = 0.98, NFI =
0.94) indicate that the hypothesized three-factor
structure fits the data well. We also estimated three
two-factor models (one combining managerial par-
ticipation in decision making and managerial ac-
cess to organizational resources, one combining
managerial participation in decision making and
management team change orientation, and one
combining managerial access to organizational re-
soiurces and management team change orientation)
and a one-factor model (all three moderators load-
ing on the same factor) to assess more parsimonious
models. All indexes from the more parsimonious
models indicate that each had a significantly worse
fit to the data than did the hypothesized three-
factor model. We conducted a chi-square difference
test for each model (relative to the hypothesized
model) and foimd that the more parsimonious
models were significantly different (worse-fitting)
at p < .001. This analysis provides statistical sup-
port for construct differentiation. See Table 2 for all

Table 3 shows the correlations, means, and stan-
dard deviations for the study variables. The pat-
terns of the raw correlations are consistent with
past research. For instance, employee satisfaction (r
= – .23, p < .01) and interactional justice (r = -.14,
p < .05) are negatively related to turnover. Addi-
tionally, restaurant remodeling date is positively
related (r = .19, p < .01) to turnover, and training
status is negatively related to turnover (r = -.20,
p < .01). One might also expect that the managerial
responsiveness behaviors would be related to turn-
over directly. However, although management

Confirmatory Factor Analysis Results”

Factor Structure x’/df C n RMSEA RMSEA CI NFI NfNFI AIC

1. Three-factor model
2. Two-factor model: PDM + C


3. Two-factor model: PDM + AOR
4. Two-factor model: CO + AOR
5. One-factor model

” “AOR” is unit manager access to organizational resources; “CO” is local management team change orientation; “PDM” is unit manager
participation in decision making.

**p < .01

















































• •g

I l I







t.s at














11 17












11 24














































l g

o Si
‘S -ä





in CO
O o


* rr CM

) O rH
































































































„ „ s s ‘C , _

_, É I I 1§ 9̂ §°
S H ë 3 < c o M 2 S Ë 2 2 l

in rH

” V V

2013 McGlean, Burris, and Detert 537

team change orientation is negatively related to
turnover (r = -.18, p < .05), both managerial par-
ticipation in decision making and access to organ-
izational resources are not significantly associated
with imit turnover at the bivariate level. Addition-
ally, unit-level voice is not significantly directly
related to employee turnover (r = .004, n.s.).

We conducted four regression analyses to assess
the interaction between voice and each variable of
interest (see Table 4); the first three include one
interaction term only, and the final model includes
the three interaction terms simultaneously. To en-
hance the interpretation of the main effects and
reduce multicoUinearity concerns, we centered all
variables involved in the interaction terms (Aiken
& West, 1991). First, we examined the relationship
between the control variables and unit-level turn-
over. As model 1 shows, collectively these vari-

ables significantly contribute to the model’s ex-
planatory power (AF = 5.05, df = 136, p < .001)
and explain 35 percent of the variance in lagged
turnover. Several individual control variables re-
main significantly related to turnover in the regres-
sion, such as average employee tenure (ß = -0.34,
p < .01), percent African American employees [ß =
-0.22, p < .01), percent Hispanic employees (ß =
-0.24, p < .01), number of employees (ß = -0.32,
p < .01), months since the restaurant had been
remodeled (ß = 0.21, p < .05), and number of
blue-collar workers within a three-mile radius of
the restainrant (ß = 0.20, p < .05).

Second, we entered the variables for employee
voice, managerial access to organizational re-
sources, managerial participation in decision mak-
ing, and local management team change orienta-
tion. Results are presented in models 2-4 of Table

Hierarchical Regression Analysis Results for the Six-Month Unit-Level Turnover Rate”


Gontrol variables
Average tenure
Percent African American
Percent Hispanic
Employee satisfaction
Justice perceptions
Abusive leadership
GM tenure
Number of employees
New restaurant
Months since last remodeling
Training restaurant
Blue-collar workers within 3 miles
Average household income within 3 miles
Main effects
Employee voice
Manager AOR
Manager PDM
Management team CO
Voice X manager AOR
Voice X manager PDM
Voice X management team CO

Adjusted iî^

Control Model

Model 1








Model 2









Main Effects

Model 3












Model 4









Model 5










Model 6










Model 7









Model 8










” n = 136. Standardized coefficients are reported.
^ “AOR” is unit manager access to organizational resources; “CO” is local management team change orientation; “PDM” is unit manager

participation in decision making.
* p < .05

**p < .01

538 Academy of Management Journal April

4. Employee voice is not significantly related to
turnover at the unit level. Both unit manager par-
ticipation in decision making and management
team change orientation are significantly related to
turnover (ß = -0.19, p < .05, and ß = -0.16, p <
.05, respectively).

Finally, we examined the relationship between
voice and turnover as moderated by our three lead-
ership variables in models 5-8. We proposed in
Hypothesis 1 that manager access to organizational
resources would moderate the relationship be-
tween employee voice and exit at the restaurant
level. As shown in model 5 of Table 4, the interac-
tion term between voice and manager access to
organizational resources is significantly related to
employee turnover (ß = -0.19, p < .05) and ex-
plains a significant amount of variance over and
above the control variables and main effects of the
moderator variables (AJF^ = 5.60, df= 136, p < .05).
To assess whether the form of this, and the other,
interactions is consistent with our hypotheses, we
plotted the interactions according to the guidelines
provided by Aiken and West (1991), plotting re-
sults at high and low levels of each variable (one
standard deviation above and below the mean). As
shown in Figure 2, the relationship between voice
and turnover when manager access to resources is
high versus low is in the predicted direction. We
followed the approach of Preacher, Curran, and
Bauer (2006) to compute the region of statistical
significance of the simple slopes of the interaction
in Z-score units. Specifically, we found that when
Z-scores are higher than 0.88, (i.e., high access to
organizational resources), the negative relationship

between voice and turnover is statistically signifi-
cant (p < .05). When the Z-scores are lower than
-2.00 (i.e., low access to organizational resources),
the positive relationship between voice and turn-
over is statistically significant (p < .05). These re-
sults are consistent with Hypothesis 1.

We propose in Hypothesis 2 that managerial par-
ticipation in decision making moderates the rela-
tionship hetween employee voice and exit at the
unit (here, restaurant) level. As shown in model 6
of Table 4, the interaction term between voice and
managerial participation in decision making is sig-
nificantly related to employee turnover (ß = -0.17,
p < .05) and explains a significant amount of vari-
ance over and above the control variables and main
effects of the moderator terms (AF = 4.62, df= 136,
p < .05). As shown in Figure 3, the relationship
between voice and turnover when manager partic-
ipation in decision making is high versus low is in
the predicted direction. Specifically, using
Preacher et al.'s (2003) regions of significance
method, we found that when Z-scores are higher
than 1.77, (i.e., high participation in decision mak-
ing), the negative relationship between voice and
turnover is statistically significant (p < .05). When
the Z-scores are lower than -2.68 (i.e., low access
to organizational resources), the positive relation-
ship between voice and turnover is statistically sig-
nificant (p < .05). These results are consistent with
Hypothesis 2.

We proposed in Hypothesis 3 that the manage-
ment team change orientation moderates the rela-
tionship between unit-level employee voice and
exit. As shown in model 7 of Table 4, the interac-

Interaction between Unit-Level Voice and Unit Manager Access to Organizational Resources

2 . 3 –

2 .

2 –

2 . 1 –

2 –



Six Months





>— Low unit manager
access to

I— High unit manager
access to

Low Voice High Voice

2013 McClean, Burris, and Detert 539

Interaction between Unit-Level Voice and Unit Manager Participation in Decision Making


Six Months




2 –






>— Low unit manager
participation in
decision making

I— High unit manager
participation in
decision making

Low Voice High Voice

tion • term between voice and management team
change orientation is significantly related to em-
ployee turnover (ß = -0.26, p < .01] and explains
a significant amount of variance over and above the
main effects (AF^ = 10.77, df = 136, p < .01].
Figure 4 displays the interaction pattern supporting
our prediction. Specifically, we found that when
Z-scores are higher than 0.13, (i.e., high manage-
ment team change orientation], the negative rela-
tionship between voice and tvurnover is statistically
significant (p < .05]. When the Z-scores are lower
than -0.84 (i.e., low management team change ori-
entation], the positive relationship between voice
and tiurnover is statistically significant (p < .05].
These results offer support for Hypothesis 3.

Last, to test their relative strength we entered all
three interactions into the regression model simul-
taneously. As shovra in model 8 of Table 4, the
interaction between voice and management team
change orientation remains significantly related to
employee turnover (ß = -0.16, p < .05], but the
other two interactions do not. We consider these
results further in the Discussion section.

Robustness Checks

We conducted additional analyses to ensure the
robustness of tbe results presented above. First,
despite our attempts to control for many different
alternative explanations for turnover and for factors

Interaction between Unit-Level Voice and Management Team Change Orientation




2 –


Six Months 1-8-





team change
team change

Low Voice High Voice

540 Academy of Management Journal April

that might affect the relationship between unit-
level employee voice and tinrnover, there is a rea-
sonable possibility that other explanations might
remain unaccounted for. We therefore ran three
additional models in which we also controlled for
each prior year’s turnover rate in each restaurant to
account for other sources of unobserved heteroge-
neity. All interactions remained significant and the
pattern of results stayed the same (manager access
to organizational resources X voice: ß = -0.14, p <
.05; manager participation in decision making X
voice: ß = -0.11, p < .05; management team
change orientation X voice: ß = -0.25, p < .01).
Second, because our turnover data are slightly
skewed, we reran all models using a log transfor-
mation of turnover to account for nonnormality.
Again, all interactions remained significant and the
pattern of results stayed the same (manager access
to organizational resources X voice: ß = -0.17, p <
.05; manager participation in decision making X
voice: ß – 0.13, p < .05; management team change
orientation X voice: ß = -0.29, p < .01). Finally, to
reduce concerns that spurious suppression could
affect oiu: results, given the number of control vari-
ables that we included in our analyses (Becker,
2005), we reran the analyses taking out one control
variable at a time to examine the effects on the
significance levels of the interactions. Of the 39
regressions run in this manner, 97 percent of the
interactions stay significant (p < .05) or marginally
significant (p < .10) when one control variable is
removed. Although these results alone cannot com-
pletely rule out the possibility of suppression,
along with the theoretical rationale for each control
variable's inclusion, they bolster confidence in the
robustness of our results.


In this study, we used theory from the organiza-
tional sciences and empirical evidence to recon-
sider and build upon several aspects of
Hirschman’s (1970) seminal framework about voice
and exit in organizations. First, we challenged the
notion that the outcomes of voice, including em-
ployee turnover, should be generally conceptual-
ized at the individual level (i.e., the level of the
speaker). Instead, we argued and demonstrated
through findings from analysis of 3,388 employee
instances of improvement-oriented input that the
very nature of voice is prosocial and thus voice has
the potential to affect outcomes for not just the
speaker but also for others whose performance or

well-being are likewise affected by the issues
raised. Second, instead of considering voice and
exit as mutually exclusive alternatives, we theo-
rized the importance of examining the relationship
between employee voice and exit and, in particular,
argued and demonstrated empirically that the rela-
tionship between the amount of speaking up by
employees and subsequent turnover in an appro-
priately defined unit is contingent on the ability
and motivation of that unit’s management to ad-
dress the issues raised.

Our empirical results not only speak to long-
standing theoretical frameworks, but are also of
significant practical import, given the costly and
vexing problem that turnover represents for organ-
izations. In the food service industry, the context of
this study, turnover rates generally exceed 100 per-
cent annually, with employees citing poor manage-
ment as a key reason for leaving (Kacmar, Andrews,
Van Rooy, Steilberg, & Cerrone, 2006; Zuber, 2001).
Though turnover rates range significantly, and are
obviously lower in other industries, turnover is
disruptive and expensive everywhere (Mueller &
Price, 1989; Staw, 1980) because it inevitably raises
labor costs related to recruiting, selecting, and
training new hires (Oi, 1962; Sagie, Birati, & Tziner,
2002) and lowers organizational performance (Kac-
mar et al., 2006; Shaw, Gupta, & Delery, 2005). This
study highlights yet another significant and ironic
cost of turnover: places with high levels of em-
ployee voice and thus many improvement-oriented
ideas can be the same places that lose the most
employees when management is unwilling or un-
able to respond. Even at a conservative estimate of
$500 to replace an employee in this context (Kac-
mar et al., 2006), the annual savings associated
with, for example, a management team that is one
standard deviation higher than the mean on change
orientation compared to one that is one standard
deviation lower would exceed $1,600,000 for an
organization with the same number and size of
restaurants as investigated here.^

^ To obtain the cost value, first we calculated the pre-
dicted turnover from the regressions. We then multiplied
this coefficient by two to obtain the predicted annual
turnover rate (recall that our dependent variable was the
turnover for six months). Then, using the average number
of employees at each store (48), we calculated the num-
ber of employees to be replaced when tbe moderator is
high and low using the annual rate calculation. We then
calculated tbe cost per store using an average cost of $500
per employee (Kacmar et al., 2006). To do tbis, we mul-

2013 McClean, Burris, and Detert 541


Our theory and findings extend Hirschman’s
framework by acknowledging the social context for
voice and the collective impact of suggestions
made by employees. Our research seeks to align
some of Hirschman’s initial insights with the con-
temporary understanding among voice scholars that
voice in work contexts is a prosocial behavior— t̂hat
is, to qualify as voice, the raising of an issue should
have the potenüal to benefit a larger collective such as
a work group or organization (Van D)nie et al., 2003).
Whereas most prior research has focused on individ-
ual-level antecedents to voice (Burris, Detert, & Chia-
buxu, 2008; Tangirala & Rumanujam, 2008), we ex-
amined tbe unit-level outcomes of voice, explicitly
theorizing that the benefit or harm of different levels
of management responsiveness to employee input ex-
tend to many employees in a unit. Upon systematic
examinafion of open-ended employee improvement
suggesfions, we found that the overwhelming major-
ity of employee comments were indeed consistent
with the “would benefit more than just me if ad-
dressed” criterion that defines voice as a prosocial
behavior (Grant & Mayer, 2009; Van Dyne et al.,
2003). This finding highlights the importance of con-
sidering the outcomes of managerial responsiveness
to employee voice among groups of employees, rather
than just those who speak up about certain issues or
just those who managers are more likely to be respon-
sive to.

Prior studies have often treated voice as the end
result, usually suggesting rather than testing any
downstream relationships between voice and desir-
able or undesirable outcomes. Research building on
Hirschman’s (1970) framework has characterized
voice as replacing need to exit because it inevitably
brings about improvements that address the
sources of employee dissatisfaction if given enough
time (e.g., Withey & Cooper, 1989). Such logic ex-
tends beyond turnover, as scholars have argued
that voice should affect other group-level outcomes
such as change effectiveness (Morrison & Milliken,
2000) and performance (Morrison, 2011). These ar-

tiplied the number of employees to be replaced by the
$500 value for botb the low and high moderator situa-
tions. To ohtain the total cost for the company, we mul-
tiplied the cost per store value times 139, the number of
units in this particular company. To obtain the cost sav-
ings value, we then subtracted the value calculated from
the high moderator situation from the low moderator

guments rest largely on the assumption that actual
learning occurs and that substantive changes take
place. We explore this view theoretically and em-
pirically by acknowledging that managers often
have limited latitude and ability to initiate substan-
tive cbange and that, as a result, they are often
constrained in addressing employee concerns. Our
results show that a high level of voice alone is not
a sign that employees are more likely to stay; in-
stead, the relationship between voice and exit
within work imits is dependent on whether man-
agers are willing and able to do something with
employees’ ideas for improvement. Thus, our re-
search highlights the importance of considering
management responsiveness as an important deter-
minant of whether voice leads to positive or nega-
tive outcomes for a work unit.

Our research also makes several important theo-
retical contributions to the leadership literature. At
a broad level, our results add to contingency per-
spectives on leadership. Much recent leadership
research has predominantly focused on direct rela-
tionships between aspects of leadership and effec-
tiveness outcomes (Judge, Piccolo, & Kosalka, 2009;
Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996), includ-
ing employee turnover (Graen, Liden, & Hoel,
1982). Our research fits with a recent resurgence in
the leadership literature that examines the contin-
gencies, rather than main effects, of leadership on
vmit-level outcomes (Grant, Gino, & Hofmann,
2011). For example. Grant and colleagues (2011)
found that the relationship between leader extra-
version and unit effectiveness is contingent on the
proactivity of employees. Our study demonstrates
how the value of specific leadership behaviors for
reducing exit depends, in part, on the level of voice
activity by subordinates. More specific to the phe-
nomenon of voice, our treatment of leadership rep-
resents a significant departure from the focus on
leadership characteristics as antecedents to voice
behavior. Past research shows, for example, that
specific leader behaviors or styles like transforma-
tional characteristics or leader openness (Detert &
Burris, 2007) stimulate more voice. Complement-
ing this research, our results show the implications
of managerial actions when voice is already pres-
ent. Namely, our findings suggest that leader re-
sponsiveness to voice also affects the choices of
employees after spealcing up has occurred.

Finally, our findings are also theoretically and
practically relevant for those interested in minimiz-
ing turnover. Our study explicitly acknowledges
and demonstrates that turnover decisions are likely

542 Academy of Management Journal April

to be predictable at meaningful aggregate levels
based on social factors—such as managerial re-
sponsiveness to voice—that are similarly experi-
enced by defined groups of employees (Krackhardt
& Porter, 1986). Further, by examining when unit-
level voice affects turnover rates, we uncover po-
tential levers for leaders to use to minimize turn-
over, such as providing managers with resources to
make changes or hiring managers who are more
oriented toward change. Also, beyond our focal
variables, the set of control variables we included
explained fully 35 percent of the variance in lagged
turnover. Of these alternative explanations, several,
including the percentages of African American and
Hispanic employees and the number of months
since a restaurant was last remodeled, are signifi-
cantly related to exit. Gollectively, our findings ex-
tend understanding of unit-level factors that influ-
ence employee turnover and thus offer important
avenues for future research.

Strengths, Limitations, and Future Directions

Several features of this study bolster confidence
in our results. First, we collected data from multi-
ple sources, including observer ratings of employee
voice. Second, we used objective turnover data for
the six months after the assessment of voice, rather
than concurrent turnover statistics or turnover in-
tention reports (which may or may not result in
actual exit). Third, we found support for our hy-
potheses about the relationship between unit-level
voice and exit after first controlling for an extensive
set of theoretically meaningful alternative explana-
tions of turnover. Fourth, our results are robust to
multiple additional analyses, including models
that control for prior turnover, models that use
log-transformed turnover as the dependent vari-
able, and models that check for suppression effects.

Despite these strengths, several limitations of our
study should be addressed in future research. First,
we tested our hypotheses in a particular context—
one where turnover is high and factors such as
organizational commitment are relatively low. Un-
derstanding the generalizability of our results thus
requires additional research in other contexts. For
instance, the relevant size of the group or unit of
people that managerial responsiveness to voice will
affect likely varies. We used single restaurants as
the unit of aggregation in this study because they fit
the nature of the types of issues raised; however, in
other contexts, such as scientific research groups or
product development teams, the types of issues

raised may make the appropriate level of analysis
much smaller. For example, in academia, we might
expect the appropriate level of aggregation to be the
department rather than school level. Second, future
studies could benefit from additional and more pre-
cise measures. For example, the use of objective
measures of access to resources and other-source
ratings of manager participation in decision making
and management team change orientation would
reduce the potential biases of self-report measures.
Additionally, in arguing that our moderators are
proxies for managerial responsiveness to employ-
ees’ concerns, we suggested that reduced turnover
is likely the result of actual improvements resulting
from employees’ voice and/or that employees feel
sufficiently satisfied by managers taking their con-
cerns seriously even when substantive changes
do not always occur. In this study, we were not able
to empirically assess each of these potential medi-
ators between managerial responsiveness and sub-
sequent employee exit. We were also unable to
disentangle the voluntary from the involuntary
turnover rates for each unit and thus determine
more precisely to what extent when employees
speak up, leader responsiveness is related to em-
ployee decisions to quit, leader decisions to fire,
or both.

Future research could also more robustly exam-
ine both individual- and group-level effects by col-
lecting individual-level responses for the modera-
tors and individual-level turnover data. Such data
would allow for a multilevel analysis that more
precisely disentangles the extent to which em-
ployee exit is an individual decision made in reac-
tion to leader behaviors directed to each employee
who speaks up or predominantly influenced by the
larger social context, including whether improve-
ments were made (or not made), irrespective of
who raises specific issues. Researchers might also
use other designs and data analysis approaches to
examine whether employees exit after they or oth-
ers have spoken up because they were bothered by
a lack of response to a single, specific issue or by a
more general pattern of unresponsiveness to an ar-
ray of work issues. Ballinger and Rockmann (2010),
for example, suggested that relationships can
change quickly, with the outcome of a particular
event dramatically and permanently altering the
state of a relationship. Similarly, the unfolding
model of turnover (Lee & Mitchell, 1994) identifies
shocks, or particularly jarring work-related events,
as antecedent to voluntary exit. We suspect
that—in contrast to the picture painted by

2013 McClean, Burris, and Detert 543

Hirschman (1970)—turnover usually results from
an ongoing and building sense of frustration, dis-
satisfaction, and change in performance rather than
from a single issue or event, but the matter is an
empirical question still open for adjudication. Fu-
ture researchers should also consider measuring
exit at different time periods. We chose a six-month
turnover window hecause interviews with senior
managers suggested this was an appropriate length
of time in this context for assessing whether
changes were attempted and succeeding (Mitchell
& James, 2001). However, by collecting turnover
rates at multiple time intervals, researchers would
he ahle to test more precisely how managerial
responsiveness affects subsequent employee

Beyond addressing the limitations of this study,
future research could build upon our study and
explore some of the unexpected findings. For ex-
ample, we were surprised to find that when em-
ployee voice was low and managerial access to
organizational resources was low, employees were
more likely to stay with the organization (as they
were under conditions of high voice and high man-
agerial access to resources). One possihle explana-
tion for these findings is that when employee be-
havior matches manager ability to make changes,
employees are more likely to stay with an organi-
zation than they are when employees’ behavior is
mismatched to their manager’s orientation and
ahility to make changes. Additionally, several of
our focal variables (voice, manager access to organ-
izational resources, and manger participation in
decision making) are not directly related to turn-
over. We have already explained our perspective
on these findings (i.e., that the relationships he-
tween voice and outcomes depend on what manag-
ers do next) but recognize the need for future re-
search in this area given the practical importance of
such relationships. We were also surprised to find
that abusive leadership did not have a significant
impact on turnover in this study. This could stem
from the low incidence of (and variance in) abusive
leadership captured here. Or, it could be that, as
with other aspects of leadership, the relationship
between abusive leadership and turnover is contin-
gent on factors such as norms in a given environ-
ment and employee mobility options (Tep-
per, 2000).

Last, we note that all three interactions are sig-
nificant when estimated independently (models
5-7), but when all are included in one equation,
only the interaction hetween voice and manage-

ment team change orientation remains significant
(model 8). Statistically, this pattern of results may
be due to the lack of power that results from simul-
taneously testing the significance of three interac-
tions with a sample of the size of our sample. The
results may also be due to shared variance among
our predictors, given that each interaction includes
a common variable (voice). When predictors in-
clude a common variable, it is harder to tease out
the individual effects of each (Aiken & West, 1991).
A more substantive reason for these results may he
that modeling multiple interactions together is a
very conservative test that speaks to the relative
impact of each interaction when the others are con-
trolled for. In our case, the test is more conservative
hecause the three variables—managerial access to
organizational resources, participation in decision
making, and management team change orienta-
tion—co-occur at a relatively high level in the ma-
jority of our restaurants. For example, in 81 percent
of the restaurants at which managers have ahove
the mean level of participation in decision making,
they also have above the mean level of access to
resources (even though the raw correlation hetween
participation in decision making and access to re-
sources is .44). This fact—that our sample does not
include many instances of all permutations of high
versus low levels of each of our three moderators—
makes it difficult to tease out unique effects in a
single model. So although model 8 provides an
opportunity to examine the relative magnitude of
each interaction’s effect, models 5-7 provide a
clearer picture of the independent effect of each.


Our findings suggest that the outcomes of em-
ployee voice rest, to a nontrivial extent, in the
hands of managers; their responsiveness impacts
whether voice proves beneficial or detrimental for
the work unit and beyond. At the same time, our
results emphasize a potential disadvantage of en-
couraging employee voice: if leaders are not ahle
and prepared to act on problems identified and
opportunities suggested, employees may look to
find employment where their input has more im-
pact or even engage in behaviors that provoke man-
agers to remove them. Given the significant cost of
turnover, as well as the other losses associated with
the failure to respond to employees’ knowledge and
ideas, managers would he wise to enhance their,
and their management teams’, ability and motiva-
tion to take action when employees speak up.

544 Academy of Management Journal April


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Elizabeth J. McClean ( is a Ph.D. can-
didate in human resource management and organiza-
tional behavior at the School of Industrial and Labor
Relations at Cornell University. Her current research fo-
cuses on the antecedents and outcomes of employee
voice and the role of HR and leadership on employee Eind
firm outcomes.

Ethan R. Burris ( is
an associate professor of management at the McCombs
School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.
He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University. His cur-
rent research focuses on understanding the antecedents
and consequences of employees speaking up or staying
silent in organizations; leadership behaviors, processes,
and outcomes; and the effective management of conflict
generated by multiple perspectives.

James R. Detert (jdetert@cornell!edu) is an associate pro-
fessor of management at the Johnson Graduate School of
Management at Cornell University. His current research
interests include voice and silence in organizations, lead-
ership influences on voice and ethical decision making,
and cognitive moral disengagement as a predictor of un-
ethical behavior. He received his Ph.D. in organizational
behavior from HarvcU’d University.

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