Academic journal article Business and Economics Research Journal

Big Five Personality Traits and Organizational Dissent: The Moderating Role of Organizational Climate

Academic journal article Business and Economics Research Journal

Big Five Personality Traits and Organizational Dissent: The Moderating Role of Organizational Climate

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Expression of unwanted truth and dissent can be quite challenging, which has become an issue even in tales. In Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes" tale (Andersen, 1837) for instance, everybody was afraid to say that the Emperor was wearing nothing. The King's subjects were afraid of being seen as unfit for their positions or stupid; thus, only a child was able to say that the Emperor was naked. Even though this is a fairy tale, the examples of such avoidance to express unwanted truth or contradictory opinions can still be seen in today's organizations. In fact, studies indicate that employees are often unwilling to speak up in the face of concerns or problems (Morrison & Milliken, 2000; Edmondson & Munchus, 2007). Thus, this research aims to investigate the relationship between employee dissent and the Big Five personality dimensions, and whether organizational climate has a moderating influence on this relationship.

Dissent is often considered as deviant behavior and its expression challenges the norms of the organizations (Payne, 2007). Expressing the unwanted truth, disagreeing with the boss, or delivering bad news is seen as contaminating the bearer (Wilson & Harrison, 2001). The most common reason seen in the literature for failure to speak up is the fear of retaliation (Sprague & Ruud, 1988). On the other hand, it is crucial for organizations to listen to their employees and embrace their opinions and feelings. Top managers need information from employees at lower levels in the organization to be able to respond appropriately to dynamic conditions, make good decisions, and correct issues before they rise. In addition, groups need honest input from their members to perform effectively and make good decisions (Morrison, 2011).

As a specific form of employee voice, organizational dissent can be defined as the expression of disagreement or contradictory opinions about one's organization (Kassing, 1997). Dissent research points that employees choose dissent strategies under consideration of a complex set of factors (Kassing, 2000a). Kassing (1997) stated that employee dissent strategy selection is influenced by individual, relational, and organizational factors. Concerning organizational factors, dissent research has repeatedly pointed that organizational cultures and climates foster or hinder dissent (Graham, 1986; Hegstrom, 1990; Kassing, 1998; Kassing, 2000a). In addition to the effects of organizational climate on variables such as individual motivation (Litwin and Stringer, 1968), organizational performance and employee job satisfaction (Lawler et al., 1974), it is also known that organizational climates and mechanisms that seek, facilitate, and respond to employee dissent strengthen organizational health (Cotton, 1993; Pacanowsky, 1988).

Kassing (2008) stated that dissent is a very personalized act that requires employees to assess their character and understanding of their social and organizational standing in their workplace. If dissent is considered a personalized act, then it is meaningful to expect that employees with different personality traits will vary on the ways to express dissent. Although dissent is often regarded as a negative act, it is a way of communication to help managers understand what is going on in the organization, spot problems and take corrective actions. It is a tool that contributes to the development of organizations (Kassing, 2002). Moreover, associating employee personality and dissent has a practical importance because personality testing is being increasingly used in organizations and personality profiles are often readily available to managers (Rothstein & Goffin, 2006; Avery, 2003). For these reasons, understanding the relationship between personality and organizational dissent can be beneficial, especially, for managers to understand how to motivate employees to express dissent. As Kassing (1998, 2000a) and other researchers (Graham, 1986; Hegstrom, 1990) stated that organizational cultures and climates foster or hinder dissent in an organization, it is also important to investigate the role of organizational climate on the relationship between personality and organizational dissent. …

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