Effect Of Organisational Silence On Corporate Performance

Project and Seminar Material for Industrial Relations and Personnel Management

Effect Of Organisational Silence On Corporate Performance

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Organisations are increasingly demanding more and more from their employees such as taking initiative, speaking up and accepting responsibility because of more intensive competition, higher customer expectations, more focus on quality indicating a constant world of change. In order to survive, organisations need people who are responsive to the challenges of the environment, who are not afraid to share information and knowledge, who can stand up for their own and their team beliefs (Maria cited in Tahmasebi et al., 2013).

Employees in an organization are the main source of critical factors for change, production, innovation, and learning, as well as organizational success and productivity. Although most of the employees have some vital thoughts and ideas about the organization, they prefer to remain silent. Organizations, in today’s rapidly changing world, need employees to constantly share their ideas, beliefs, knowledge, and experiences freely (Liu et al, 2009). Even if, an employee seems to be perceived as an example of loyalty and commitment within the organization when silent, recent research indicates that a climate of silence in organization causes an inability to achieve the expected benefits of employees’ job satisfaction and loyalty (Aylsworth, 2008).

Cakici (2008) boldly asserts that, it is worthy to work on situations of employees who are aware of the issues which are essential for organizational development, but are reluctant to share them with the top executives. Modern managerial approach has been offering plenty of chances for information flow and communication in the form of evaluation meetings, suggestion and complaint mechanisms, face-to-face meetings, and open-door policies within the organization. But having some fears such as being labeled as a potential complainant, losing colleagues’ trust and respect, exposure to the loss of the relationship with the institution, losing the job, or risking promotion constrain the flow of information and communication between employees and top executives. Thus, employees choose to remain silent (Cakici, 2008).

Organizational silence is a behavioral choice that can deteriorate or improve organizational performance. Excluding its emotionally difficult expression, silence can convey approval and sharing or disfavor and opposition, thus becoming a pressure mechanism for both individuals and organizations (Gambarotto et al., 2010). Unwillingness to share information and opinions and also to provide feedback will have a potential negative effect on confidence, morale and motivation of employees. Also, withholding information and ideas can weaken decision-making, error correction, improvement and innovation processes (Vakola and Bouradas, 2005).

However, in today’s dynamic and competitive business environment, organizations need employees who express their opinions in order to break the culture of silence. Also people choose organizations to work that provide a voice for their staff. For organizations which don’t have silence culture, both employees and managers are at high level of motivation and performance (Schlosser and Zolin 2012).

Organizational silence refers to the collective phenomenon of comment or to very little action in response to the major issues facing the organization (Henriksen and Dayton, 2006). According to Morrison and Milliken (2003) organizational silence is defined as the collective phenomenon which occurs when employees intentionally withhold their knowledge and ideas regarding organizational issues. It is held in the parlance of management, that many organizations have been involved in solving a major managerial puzzle and that for most times, many employees know the fact about certain problems of their organizations but do not have the courage to express those facts to their supervisors.

In Nigeria, there is intellectual scarcity of literature on Organizational silence and its effect on organizational outcomes. Hence, the need to examine the impact of Organisational Silence on Corporate Performance is timely and should be considered as sacrosanct for now.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Employees often complain that their organisations do not support communication and sharing of information and knowledge which are some of the reasons why change management programmes fail. More specifically, one of the major obstacles to change programmes was found to be lack of information, lack of trust and what Morrison and Milliken (2000) defined as organisational silence which is the employee’s choice to ‘‘withhold their opinions and concerns about organisational problems’’.

Organizational silence is an inefficient process which can waste all organizational efforts and may take various forms, such as collective silence in meetings, low levels of participation in suggestion schemes, low levels of collective voice and so on (Nikmaram, et al., 2012). Moreover, this phenomenon reduces individual job satisfaction and job commitment and encourages openness and adventitious helplessness (Maria cited in Tahmasebi et al., 2013). Unwillingness to share information, to comment and to provide feedback potentially has negative effects on trust, morale, ethics, motivations and ultimately on organizational performance. Employees often have ideas, information and opinions for constructive ways to improve work and work organizations. Sometimes these employees practice voice and express their ideas, information, and opinions; and other times they remain silent and withhold their ideas, information, and opinions.

The disproportion between what person want to do and what he must do; or in other words, significant discrepancy between the nature of employee and job conditions leads to job burnout. One of the elements that cause this conflict is the dominance of silence culture in organization. When this culture is dominant, there will be an apparent paradox in which most of staff know the facts about organization issues but don’t dare to speak about them Morrison and Milliken (2000) showed that organizational silence leads to dissonance and this in turn result in low organizational productivity.

On Nigerian front empirical researches suggests that employee silence can lead to stress, denial, dissatisfaction and disconnection among the staff. In addition, organizational silence makes the employees feel that they are not valued and think that they don’t have control over their work (Nikolaou et al., 2011). It is against this backdrop that this study is carried out to investigate the Impact of Organisational Silence on Corporate Performance with a special reference to Guinness Nig Plc.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The primary objective of this study is to examine the effect of Organisational Silence on Organisational Performance. Other salient objectives include;

  1. To examine if there is a relationship between organisational silence and employee performance.
  2. To examine if communication among employees enhances organizational efficiency.
  3. To find out the effect of employee silence on organizational growth and competitiveness.

1.4 Research Questions

The undertaking of this research project will be guided by the following research questions;

  1. Is there a relationship between organisational silence and employee performance?
  2. What is the effect of employees’ communication on organizational efficiency?
  3. Does employees’ silence has any effect on organizational growth and competitiveness?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

Presented below are formulated hypotheses to be tested in the course of the research study;

Hypotheses 1:
  • Ho; There is no significant relationship between organisational silence and employee performance.
  • Hi; There is a significant relationship between organisational silence and employee performance.
Hypotheses 2:
  • Ho; Communication among employees is not a significant predictor of organizational efficiency.
  • Hi; Communication among employees is a significant predictor of organizational efficiency.
Hypotheses 3:
  • Ho; Employee silence does not have significant effect on organizational growth and competitiveness.
  • Hi; Employee silence has a statistical effect on organizational growth and competitiveness.

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