Organizations have increasingly realized the importance of encouraging employees with diverse cultural backgrounds to openly express their opinions. Effective implementation of a management strategy rests on understanding and managing collectivist employees’ motivations to speak up. The purpose of the present study is in an attempt to understand whether and how collectivism influences employee’s voice behavior. This study builds upon social exchange theory and social identity theory to investigate collectivist cultural patterns and to argue that collectivist employees’ voice behaviors are strongly affected by their cultural value through some mediating mechanisms. Specifically, I examine the relationship between individual-level collectivism and voice. In addition, I propose that the underlying conceptual framework related to collectivism-voice is through the mediating effect of felt obligation and organizational identification. Furthermore, I seek to understand the moderating effect of psychological safety related to the mediating relationships.
Through a survey administered twice to a sample of 180 employees working for two organizations in south China, I conducted regression analyses and found that employees with higher levels of collectivism are more likely to voice. When their sense of obligation and identification are stronger, employees are more engaged in speaking up. In addition, psychological safety increases the level of felt obligation of collectivist employees, which in turn, encourages them to voice more. This study sought to contribute to the body of knowledge on collectivism and voice by uniquely integrating five developed streams of research that have not been previously connected. The findings of this study provide the conceptual basis for interventions that are designed to encourage collectivist employee’s voice behavior in organizations. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed along with the limitations of the study and directions for future research.