Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Too powerless to speak up: Effects of social rejection on sense of power and employee voice

Abstract Enabling and amplifying the voice of employees creates opportunities for organizational improvement. Prior research has shown that employees' sense of power has impact on their voice behavior. As such, when would employees feel too powerless to speak up in the workplace? The current study investigates the indirect effect of social rejection (via sense of power) on employee voice. We use conservation of resources theory to explain this relationship. Experimental data from two studies demonstrate that participants reminded of social rejection (vs. acceptance) exhibit a lower sense of power. Specifically, we observe that social rejection diminishes a person's sense of power, and that social acceptance does not enhance this sense. That is, social rejection has an indirect effect on employee voice through sense of power. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings with regard to social rejection, sense of power, and workplace voice behavior.

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