Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Stimulating Employees' Feedback-Seeking Behavior: The Role of Participative Decision Making

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Stimulating Employees' Feedback-Seeking Behavior: The Role of Participative Decision Making

Article excerpt

Over the past three decades there has been increasing interest in employees' feedback-seeking behavior in the workplace (see reviews by Anseel, Beatty, Shen, Lievens, & Sackett, 2015; Ashford, Blatt, & VandeWalle, 2003). Feedback seeking refers to "the effort to ask others for information concerning work behavior and work performance" (Qian et al., 2015, p. 336). The researchers have generally suggested that feedback seeking has a positive impact on work outcomes, including greater employee self-awareness in the work context, improved goal setting, and goal attainment (Ashford et al., 2003; Crommelinck & Anseel, 2013; Wu, Parker, & de Jong, 2014). Given these benefits, stimulating and encouraging employee feedback-seeking behavior has become increasingly critical for managers (see e.g., Janssen & Prins, 2007; Qian et al., 2015; VandeWalle & Cummings, 1997).

In recent research the findings have shown that supervisors' leadership styles and managerial practices could promote employees' feedback seeking (see e.g., Janssen & Prins, 2007; Qian, Lin, & Chen, 2012; Williams, Miller, Steelman, & Levy, 1999). For example, Chen, Lam, & Zhong (2007) argued that leader-member exchange is positively associated with feedback seeking. In their research Qian and colleagues (2012) suggested that supervisors' practice of an authentic style of leadership can also encourage employees' feedback-seeking behavior. In particular, participative decision making as a managerial technique has drawn researchers' attention in recent years (see e.g., Liu et al., 2012) and has been linked to positive work outcomes (Cotton, Vollrath, Froggatt, Lengnick-Hall, & Jennings, 1988; Lam, Chen, & Schaubroeck, 2002). Participative decision making refers to the opportunity for an individual employee to provide input into the decision-making process and to exercise control over matters related to his/her work (Zanoni & Janssens, 2007). Through this participative process, influence and power are shared among individuals who are otherwise hierarchically unequal in the workplace (Liu, Wang, Hui, & Lee, 2012; Zanoni & Janssens, 2007). To date, few studies have been conducted in which researchers have focused on understanding how participative decision making is related to individual employees' feedback-seeking behaviors. This surprised us, given that researchers have suggested that the focus in participative decision making is on enhancing employees' feelings of autonomy, control, self-determination, and regulation, and feedback seeking is essentially a self-regulation strategy the objective of which is to set and attain work-related goals. In addition, researchers of feedback-seeking behaviors have often lamented the lack of understanding about which leadership styles or managerial practices could best promote feedback-seeking behaviors (Ashford et al., 2003; Anseel, et al., 2015). Therefore, our first objective in the current study was to address this important and, as yet, relatively unstudied issue.

In addition to hypothesizing that there would be an association between participative decision making and feedback-seeking behaviors, we also used psychological ownership theory (Pierce et al., 2001, 2003) to investigate the mediating mechanism through which this association is formed. In the majority of past research a cost-value framework has been applied to explain the influence of antecedents on feedback-seeking behavior (see e.g., Qian et al., 2012; VandeWalle & Cummings, 1997; VandeWalle, Ganesan, Challagalla, & Brown, 2000). Antecedents (e.g., culture, goal orientation) exert a positive influence on feedback-seeking behavior by increasing the perceived instrumental value of feedback information and/or decreasing the perceived image and ego cost of seeking feedback. Recently feedback-seeking researchers have suggested that an individual's decision to seek feedback at work may go beyond the evaluation of the behavior itself (Anseel et al. …

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