Friday, January 19, 2007

Fear and Work

"Our own and others' research have identified two types of factors that lead people to feel more or less safe speaking up: individual differences and contextual factors.Individual differences include personality dispositions such as one's level of extraversion or proactivity, or one's developed skills such as how to communicate in ways that don't evoke defensiveness, and also personal concerns about job security and/or mobility. These factors tend to be seen as applying across situations. For example, a person with greater communication skill might be more likely to speak up despite an unfavorable context.In contrast, context refers to organizational factors, outside the individual, that provide cues about how voice is likely to be received. Leader behavior is one such contextual cue. Aspects of organizational culture and structure also matter, such as the degree to which an organization is hierarchical or egalitarian, or has explicit mechanisms for inviting upward input (e.g., suggestion boxes, regularly-scheduled meetings, surveys).Our research adds the finding that specific features of the situation in which voice is contemplated, such as the size and formality of the venue and level of hierarchy present, also matter, as does the degree of demographic similarity between the speaker and the intended target of his or her communication". See the rest of the interview with Harvard's professor Amy Edmondson here.

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