Open or Closed? A Social Interaction Perspective on Line Managers' Reactions to Employee Voice

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Few studies have explored how line managers respond to employees’ use of voice in interaction and the challenges facing the line managers in relation to voice. While some scholars have argued that managers’ reactions to voice are generally shaped by personal dispositions, such as the managers’ degree of “openness,” this study draws on the approach of discursive psychology to demonstrate that line managers’ responses are closely fitted to the organizational context and the unfolding interactional context. Through detailed analysis of a single episode from a voice activity in an industrial setting, the study exemplifies various rhetorical strategies used by the line managers and how these strategies may change as discussions proceed. The study also shows that psychological concepts such as openness should not be seen only as stable features of managers, but also as actively enacted in interaction. Various practical steps are suggested for improving both line managers’ and employees’ experiences with participating in formal voice activities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)32-57
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Line managers
  • Employee voice
  • Supervisor–employee communication
  • Discursive psychology
  • Discursive devices
  • Accountability

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