Tactics of speaking up: The roles of issue importance, perceived managerial openness, and managers' positive mood

Erica Xu, Xu Huang, Kan Ouyang, Wu Liu, Saiquan Hu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Extant voice research has focused mainly on the conditions under which employees speak up, but we have limited knowledge about how employees speak up. This study examines voice tactics or the various ways in which employees express concerns to or share suggestions with their managers. Based on the notion that voice is a deliberative behavior, we draw upon a cost–benefit framework and propose that voice tactics are influenced by messages' characteristics and managers' stable and temporal characteristics. Specifically, we examine the joint effects of issue importance, perceived managerial openness, and managers' positive mood on employees' public (vs. private) and formal (vs. informal) voice tactics. Across two independent studies, our findings demonstrate that employees tend to use public channels and formal procedures only when three conditions are met simultaneously: (a) the issue is important, (b) managers are perceived as being open to employees' voice, and (c) managers are in a positive mood at the time of voicing. In addition, we found that speaking up via public channels or formal procedures is positively related to the success of voice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Resource Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • issue importance
  • managers' positive mood
  • perceived managerial openness
  • voice tactics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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