“Say what you need to say: Consequences of Voice Directness, Politeness, and Perceived Expertise on Idea Endorsement”
When employees express challenge-oriented suggestions to their manager, should they be direct and “say what they need to say” in order to gain a manager’s endorsement? On the one hand, existing research suggests that expressing voice in a direct manner is associated with lower levels of idea endorsement, because managers are in a hierarchically higher position and are not expected to be told what to do. On the other hand, research on communication suggests that being direct is associated with higher levels of idea endorsement, because managers would better understand a raised issue, spend more time thinking about and discussing the issue, and become more likely to address and adopt changes associated with the issue. To resolve these competing perspectives, we identify episodic (voice politeness) and individual (perceived expertise) conditions under which voice directness is more or less likely to be associated with managerial endorsement. In two field studies and one experimental study, we found that voice directness is positively associated with idea endorsement. Moreover, consistent with Hollander’s (1958) idiosyncrasy credit theory, we found that even when employees are direct and impolite, managers are more likely to endorse an idea when employees are perceived to be an expert in what they do.
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