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 journalJournal articlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    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 - Sept 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


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