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Implicit Voice Delivery: Its Antecedents, Consequences, and Boundary Conditions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 October 2021

Run Ren
Peking University, China
Li Ma*
Peking University, China
(George) Zhen Xiong Chen
Australian National University, Australia
Hui Wang
Peking University, China
Dong Ju
Beijing Normal University, China
Corresponding author: Dong Ju (


Although many organizations encourage employees to voice, employees may be reluctant to voice directly because they are afraid that their supervisors will perceive it as challenging their face (i.e., the positive image or social value of an individual). Alternatively, employees could deliver improvements or express concerns to their supervisors using indirect and implicit approaches, which we refer to as ‘implicit voice delivery’. Applying face theory, we examine the antecedents and outcomes as well as two boundary conditions of implicit voice delivery in organizations with two studies. In Study 1, we define the construct and develop a measure of implicit voice delivery. In Study 2, we test our proposed model with supervisor-subordinate dyadic data from a time-lagged survey. Results demonstrate that concern for other people's face drives employees to express their voices implicitly and that this relationship is stronger when supervisors’ concern for their own face is high rather than low. In addition, implicit voice delivery is associated with supervisors’ favorable response in terms of voice endorsement. Furthermore, the effect on voice endorsement is stronger when the supervisor is more able to infer meaning from implicit messages. Theoretical contribution and managerial implications are discussed.



Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The International Association for Chinese Management Research

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ACCEPTED BY Senior Editor Wu Liu

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