This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Is it worth the regret? Deciding to engage in employee voice




Willits, Taylor

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




Employee voice and silence can have major implications, both positive and negative, at every level of an organization, especially when related to important workplace issues. Accordingly, the decision to speak up is often risky, and made complex by the number of decision factors an employee must consider. The purpose of the current study was to integrate emotion, specifically anticipated regret, into a utility-based model of employee decision making to voice or not voice. As a cognitively mediated emotion, anticipated regret can be factored into the decision making process along with the traditional voice factors such as risk, safety, and efficacy, and allow employees to incorporate their future emotional preferences into their decision. An experimental moderated mediation design was used to examine the indirect influence of risk on voice intent through the effect of anticipated regret. Results from the current study indicated that anticipated regret for both engaging and not engaging in voice acts as a mechanism through which risk affects intent to voice after controlling for general risk-taking propensity and the Big Five traits. These findings were consistent across two voice scenarios covering different workplace contexts and issues. Furthermore, anticipated regret for engaging in voice showed a significantly stronger indirect effect, indicating that employees may be differentially weighing the two types of anticipated regret, especially for situations with high amounts of risk. Thus, by uncovering the influence of anticipated regret and further elucidating why risk is such a substantial predictor of employee silence, we were able create a more holistic picture of why employees choose to speak up or remain silent.