Milczenie i przełamywanie milczenia w organizacji

Krystyna Adamska


Silence and breaking the silence in an organization

The purpose of this article is to present the phenomenon of silence in an organization. Silence is understood as a decision not to speak out in the face of irregularities in an organization or a need for improvements in that organization. Two types of silence are considered: silence as an effect of socially shared beliefs and silence as a tactic. In the article I also consider the issue of breaking the silence. The postulate of breaking the silence is consistent with the assignment of value to the involvement of the employee in the decision making process. Silence limits participation, creativity, and the multiplicity of voices and hinders changes in the organization.


silence; voice; organization; breaking the silence

Full Text:

PDF (Język Polski)


Adamska, K. (2004). Rozmowa w organizacji. In E. Martynowicz (Ed.), Motywy, cele, wartości (pp. 167-193). Cracow, PL: Oficyna Wydawnicza Impuls,.

Adamska, K. (2015). Milczenie w organizacji. Rola uważności społecznej i czynników kontekstowych. Zarządzanie Zasobami Ludzkimi, 1, 115-131.

Bar-Tal, D. (2013a). Intractable conflicts: Socio-psychological foundations and dynamics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bar-Tal, D. (2013b). Initial thoughts about self-censorship as a socio-political-psychological collective phenomenon. Lecture delivered at the 10th Congress of the Polish Association of Social Psychology, Cracow, Poland.

Beer, M., & Eisenstat, R. E. (2000). The silent killers of strategy implementation and learning. Sloan Management Review, 41, 29-40.

Bochiaro, P., Zimbardo, P. G., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2012). To defy or not to defy: An experimental study of the dynamics of disobedience and whistle-blowing. Social Influence, 7, 35-50.

Bogart, K., & Stein, N. (1987). Breaking the silence: Sexual harassment in education. Peabody Journal in Education, 64, 146-163.

Botero, I. C., & Van Dyne, L. (2009). Employee voice behavior. Interactive effects of LMX and power distance in the United States and Colombia. Management Communication Quarterly, 23, 84-104.

Brown, P., & Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Cortina, L. M., & Magley, V. J. (2003). Raising voice, risking retaliation: Events following interpersonal mistreatment in the workplace. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 8, 247-265.

Creed, W. E. D. (2003). Voice lessons: Tempered radicalism and the use of voice and silence. Journal of Management Studies, 40, 1503-1536.

Creed, W. E. D., DeJordy, R., & Lok, J. (2010). Being the change: Resolving institutional contradiction through identity work. Academy of Management Journal, 53, 1336-1364.

Creed, W. E. D., Hudson, B. A., Okhuysen, G. A., & Smith-Crowe, K. (2014). Swimming in a sea of shame: Incorporating emotions into explanations of institutional reproduction and change. Academy of Management Review, 39, 275-301.

Çinar, O., Karcioǧlu, F., & Allioǧullari, Z. D. (2013). The relationship between organizational silence and organizational citizenship behavior: A survey study in the province of Erzurum, Turkey. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 99, 314-321.

Detert, J. R., & Edmondson, A. C. (2011). Implicit voice theories: Taken-for-rules of self-censorship at work. Academy of Management Journal, 54, 461-488.

Donaghey, J., Cullinane, N., Dundon, T., & Wilkinson, A. (2011). Re‐conceptualising employee silence: Problems and prognosis. Work, Employment and Society, 25, 51‐67.

Dutton, J. E., Ashford, S. J., O’Neill, R. M., & Lawrence, K. A. (2001). Moves that matter: Issue selling and organizational change. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 716-736.

Echterhoff, G., Kopietz, R., & Higgins, E. T. (2013). Adjusting shared reality: Communicators’ memory changes as their connection with their audience changes. Social Cognition, 31, 162-186.

Fast, N. J., Burris, E. R., & Bartel, C. A. (2014). Managing to stay in the dark: Managerial self- -efficacy, ego defensiveness, and the aversion to employee voice. Academy of Management Journal, 57, 1013-1034.

Fivush, R. (2010). Speaking silence: The social construction of silence in autobiographical and cultural narratives. Memory, 18, 88-98.

Gibson, R., & Singh, J. (2003). Wall of silence: The untold stories of the medical mistakes that kill and injure millions of Americans. Washington, DC: Lifeline Press.

Goffman, E. (2006). Rytuał interakcyjny. Warsaw, PL: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Hayes, A. F., Scheufele, D. A., & Huge, M. E. (2006). Nonparticipation as self-censorship: Publicly observable political activity in a polarized opinion climate. Political Behavior, 28, 259-283.

Hays-Thomas, R. (2003). The last page: Learning by breaking the silence. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 6, 120-122.

Higgins, E. T. (1992). Achieving “shared reality” in the communication game: A social action that creates meaning. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 11, 107-131.

Higgins, E. T. (1999). “Saying is believing” effects: When sharing reality about something biases knowledge and evaluations. In L. L. Thompson, J. M. Levine, & D. M. Messick (Eds.), Shared cognition in organizations: The management of knowledge (pp. 33-49). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Higgins, E. T., Echterhoff, G., Crespillo, R., & Kopietz, R. (2007). Effects of communication on social knowledge: Sharing reality with individual versus group audiences. Japanese Psychological Research, 49, 89-99.

Hirak, R., Peng, A. C., Carmeli, A., & Schaubroeck, J. M. (2012). Linking leader inclusiveness to work unit performance: The importance of psychological safety and learning from failures. The Leadership Quarterly, 23, 107-117.

Huang, X., Van de Vliert, E., & Van der Vegt, G. (2005). Breaking the silence culture: Stimulation of participation and employee opinion with holding cross‐nationally. Management and Organization Review, 1, 459‐482.

Islam, G., & Zyphur, M. J. (2005). Power, voice and hierarchy: Exploring the antecedents of speaking up in groups. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research and Practice, 9, 93-103.

Jack, D. C. (1991). Silencing the self. New York: Harper Perennial.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.

Kahneman, D., & Lovallo, D. (2002). Timid choices and bold forecasts: A cognitive perspective on risk taking. In L. L. Thompson (Ed.), The social psychology of organizational behavior (pp. 63-78). Hove, NY: Psychology Press.

Kassing, J. W. (2002). Speaking up: Identifying employees’ upward dissent strategies. Management Communication Quarterly, 16, 187-209.

Kish-Gephart, J. J., Detert, J. R., Treviño, L. K., & Edmondson, A. C. (2009). Silenced by fear: The nature, sources, and consequences of fear at work. Research in Organizational Behavior, 29, 163-193.

Klammer, J., Skarlicki, D. P., & Barclay, L. (2001). Speaking up in the Canadian military: The role of voice, being heard, and generation in predicting civic virtue. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 34, 122-130.

Knoll, M., & van Dick, R. (2013). Do I hear the whistle…? A first attempt to measure four forms of employee silence and their correlates. Journal of Business Ethics, 113, 349-362.

Lee, F. (1993). Being polite and keeping MUM: How bad news is communicated in organizational hierarchies. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 23, 1124-1149.

Lee, J. J., & Pinker, S. (2010. Rationales for indirect speech: The theory of the strategic speaker. Psychological Review, 17, 785-807.

LePine, L., & Van Dyne, J. A. (1998). Predicting voice behavior in work groups. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(6), 853-868.

Maynes, T. D., & Podsakoff, P. M. (2014). Speaking more broadly: An examination of the nature, antecedents, and consequences of an expanded set of employee voice behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99, 87-112.

Meyerson, D., & Scully, M. (1995). Tempered radicalism: The politics of ambivalence and change. Organizational Science, 6, 585-600.

Miceli, M. P., & Near, J. P. (1989). The incidence of wrongdoing, whistle-blowing and retaliation: Results of a naturally-occurring field experiment. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 2, 91-108.

Morrison, E. W. (2011). Employee voice behavior. Integration and directions for future research. The Academy of Management Annals, 5, 373-412.

Morrison, E. W. (2014). Employee voice and silence. The Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1, 173-197.

Morrison, E. W., Chen, Y. R., & Salgado, S. R. (2004). Cultural differences in newcomer information seeking: A comparison of the United States and Hong Kong. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 53, 1-22.

Morrison, E. W., & Milliken, F. J. (2000). Organizational silence: A barrier to change and development in a pluralistic world. Academy of Management Review, 25, 706-725.

Perlow, L. A., & Repenning, N. P. (2009). The dynamics of silencing conflict. Research in Organizational Behavior, 29, 195-223.

Perlow, L., & Williams, S. (2003). Is silence killing your company? Harvard Business Review, 81, 52-59.

Pinder, C., & Harlos, K. (2001). Employee silence: Quiescence and acquiescence as responses to perceived injustice. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 20, 331-369.

Rothwell, G. R., & Baldwin, J. N. (2007). Ethical climate theory, whistle blowing and the code of silence in police agencies in the state of Georgia. Journal of Business Ethics, 70, 341-361.

Schippers, M. C., Homan, A. C., & Van Knippenberg, D. (2013). To reflect and not to reflect: Prior team performance as a boundary of the effects of the reflexivity on learning and final team performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34, 6-23.

Spencer, L. (1989). Winning through participation. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Stone, D., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2009). Beyond talk: Creating autonomous motivation through self-determination theory. Journal of General Management, 34, 75-91.

Sutton, R. I. (2010). The mum effect and filtering in organizations: The ‘shoot the messenger’ problem., June 5th, Retrieved from

Tahmasebi, F., Sobhanipour, S. M., & Aghaziarati, M. (2013). Burnout: Explaining the role of organizational silence and its influence (case study: selected executive organizations of Qom Province). Journal of Basic and Applied Scientific Research, 3, 272-282.

Tangirala, S., Kamdar, D., Venkataramani, V., & Parke, M. R. (2013). Doing right versus getting ahead: The effects of duty and achievement orientations on employees’ voice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98, 1040-1050.

Tangirala, S., & Ramanujam, R. (2008). Employee silence on critical work issues: The cross-level effects of procedural justice climate. Personnel Psychology, 61, 37-68.

Tetlock, P. E. (2002). Social functionalist frameworks for judgment and choice: Intuitive politicians, theologians and prosecutors. Psychological Review, 109, 451-471.

Thurlow, C., & Jaworski, A. (2010). Silence is golden. The ‘anti-communicational’ linguascaping of super-elite mobility. In A. Jaworski & C. Thurlow (Eds.), Semiotic landscapes: Language, image, space (pp. 187-218). London: Continuum.

Timming, A. R., & Johnstone, S. (2015). Employee silence and authoritarian personality: A political psychology of workplace democracy. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 23, 154-171.

Vakola, M., & Bourades, D. (2005). Antecedents and consequences of organizational silence: An empirical investigation. Employee Relations, 27, 441-458.

Van Dyne, L., Ang, S., & Botero, I. C. (2003). Conceptualizing employee silence and employee voice as multidimensional constructs. Journal of Management Studies, 40, 1359-1392.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Roczniki Psychologiczne/Annals of Psychology

ISSN: 1507-7888   e-ISSN: 2451-4306

© Towarzystwo Naukowe KUL & Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II – Wydział Nauk Społecznych

Articles are licensed under a Creative Commons  Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)