Companies Might be Suppressing Employee Opinions When They Need Them the Most

Long-standing research shows that diversity of thought in organizations is vital to innovation and creativity. New research shows that during times of job insecurity, those vital ideas might be suppressed if they counter the organization’s values. The study by Sung Soo Kim, assistant professor of management at the Daniels College of Business in the University of Denver, was published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. Kim’s co-authors of the paper “Creating facades of conformity in the face of job insecurity: a study of consequences and conditions,” are Patricia Faison Hewlin and Young Ho Song of McGill University in Montreal.

  • The current study found that employees who feel their job security threatened were more likely to suppress personal values and pretend to embrace organizational values, and such responses were linked to their intention to leave and reduced affective commitment.
  • The results from this study highlight the importance of fostering organizational environments that encourage authenticity such that members are not compelled to suppress personal values and pretend to embrace organizational values in job-insecure environments.
  • The results also highlight how employees will enact their careers at different stages of their lives. In job insecure environments, older workers are more likely than younger workers to express divergent points of view.

“Our study further shows that employees create facades of conformity to cope with job insecurity but ironically, facades of conformity can have an adverse impact on one’s feelings of attachment to the organization, consistent with previous research on facades of conformity,” Kim says. “In other words, the actual effort to better ‘fit in’ via inauthentic expression can become taxing and foster a level of detachment from the organization that negatively affects one’s commitment to the organization and prompts one’s inclination to leave the organization.”

Sung Soo Kim is an assistant professor in the Department of Management at the Daniels College of Business in the University of Denver. She earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management from McGill University, her master’s from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and her bachelor’s from Seoul National University.


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