Speaking up when feeling job insecure: The moderating role of punishment and reward sensitivity

B.H.J. Schreurs, H. Günter, I.M. Jawahar, N. de Cuyper

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Abstract

Purpose
- The purpose of this paper is to investigate the extent to which felt job insecurity facilitates or hinders employees from raising voice (i.e. speaking up to their authority). The authors introduce punishment and reward sensitivity, two constructs of reinforcement sensitivity theory, as dispositional factors that might lead employees to appraise felt job insecurity as a hindrance vs challenge stressor. The authors propose employees high on punishment sensitivity to feel more constrained in raising voice because felt job insecurity to them is akin to a threat. Employees high on reward sensitivity should see felt job insecurity as a challenge, making it more likely that they will speak up.

Design/methodology/approach
- Hypotheses were tested using moderated structural equation modeling analysis. The sample consisted of 232 employees confronted with organizational change.

Findings
- The results are in line with the view of felt job insecurity as a hindrance stressor. Felt job insecurity negatively affected voice among both high and low punishment-sensitive individuals. Similarly, felt job insecurity was negatively related to voice in both low and high reward-sensitive individuals, although in the latter group the relationship was less pronounced.

Originality/value

- The literatures on felt job insecurity and voice have developed parallel to one another, without much cross-dialogue. Furthermore, the few existing studies that did relate felt job insecurity to employee voice have yielded conflicting results. The present study offers a theoretical account of the existing ambiguities in the literature, and generates new insights into why some employees more than others react to felt job insecurity by self-censoring their ideas and opinions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1128
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Volume28
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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