Employee silence, the withholding of work-related ideas, questions, or concerns from someone who could effect change, has been proposed to hamper individual and collective learning as well as the detection of errors and unethical behaviors in many areas of the world. To facilitate cross-cultural research, we validated an instrument measuring four employee silence motives (i.e., silence based on fear, resignation, prosocial, and selfish motives) in 21 languages. Across 33 countries (N = 8,222) representing diverse cultural clusters, the instrument shows good psychometric properties (i.e., internal reliabilities, factor structure, and measurement invariance). Results further revealed similarities and differences in the prevalence of silence motives between countries, but did not necessarily support cultural stereotypes. To explore the role of culture for silence, we examined relationships of silence motives with the societal practices cultural dimensions from the GLOBE Program. We found relationships between silence motives and power distance, institutional collectivism, and uncertainty avoidance. Overall, the findings suggest that relationships between silence and cultural dimensions are more complex than commonly assumed. We discuss the explanatory power of nations as (cultural) units of analysis, our social scientific approach, the predictive value of cultural dimensions, and opportunities to extend silence research geographically, methodologically, and conceptually.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The work by Elisa Adriasola as part of this research was supported by the Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica de Chile, CONICYT FONDECYT/INI11160859. Juliana Malagon acknowledges financial support from Universidad de Los Andes, Fondo de Apoyo para Profesores Asistentes [grant number P17.100322.004]. 1
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Organizational Behavior published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.