You Speak, I Speak: The Social-Cognitive Mechanisms of Voice Contagion

Thomas W.H. Ng*, Lorenzo Lucianetti, Dennis Y. Hsu, Frederick H K YIM, Kelly L. Sorensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines whether and how constructive voice (i.e., suggestions intended to promote positive changes at work) is contagious. Guided by social cognitive theory, we propose that witnessing a co-worker’s voice increases an employee’s propensity to engage in voice via two parallel psychological mechanisms: voice self-efficacy beliefs and voice instrumentality beliefs. Data collected from a vignette experiment (N = 661), an experience-recall experiment (N = 548), and a field study (N = 549) provide evidence supporting the proposed voice contagion. The results also suggest that voice contagion is activated by witnessing the voice of any co-worker, as the evidence supported voice contagion even when controlling for employees’ evaluations of co-workers’ warmth and competence. Thus, this study contributes to the voice literature by identifying social learning from co-worker voice as a crucial relational antecedent of employee voice and revealing two possible processes by which voice spreads in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1569-1608
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number6
Early online date2 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

User-Defined Keywords

  • co-worker
  • contagion
  • instrumentality
  • self-efficacy
  • voice


Dive into the research topics of 'You Speak, I Speak: The Social-Cognitive Mechanisms of Voice Contagion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this