How Should We Speak: Comparing Effectiveness of Promotive and Prohibitive Voices


  • Ho Kwan Cheung The Pennsylvania State University


This study examined whether managerial responses to employee voice behavior is dependent upon the types of voice utilized. Specifically, we argued that employees receive higher idea endorsement, liking and performance ratings when they employ promotive and group voices instead of prohibitive and individual voices. Ninety-nine undergraduate students were randomly assigned into one of the four experimental conditions in a 2 x 2 design (promotive versus prohibitive x individual versus group voices) to study the hypothesized relationships. Results showed that supervisors rated higher performance for employees utilizing promotive voice. Findings also suggested that promotive voice was linked to higher liking and idea endorsement than prohibitive voice while group voice might be related to lower idea endorsement than individual voice. Inconsistent results might be partially due to small sample size and undergraduate student sample but findings had important implications for how subordinates should speak up in the workplace as supervisors do not perceive all speaking up behaviors equally.