Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 105, Issue 2, pp 221-230

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

When Employees Stop Talking and Start Fighting: The Detrimental Effects of Pseudo Voice in Organizations

  • Gerdien de VriesAffiliated withDepartment of Social and Organizational Psychology, Leiden University Email author 
  • , Karen A. JehnAffiliated withDepartment of Organizational Behavior, Melbourne Business School, Melbourne University
  • , Bart W. TerwelAffiliated withDepartment of Social and Organizational Psychology, Leiden University


Many organizations offer their employees the opportunity to voice their opinions about work-related issues because of the positive consequences associated with offering such an opportunity. However, little attention has been given to the possibility that offering voice may have negative effects as well. We propose that negative consequences are particularly likely to occur when employees perceive the opportunity to voice opinions to be “pseudo voice”—voice opportunity given by managers who do not have the intention to actually consider employee input (i.e., managerial disregard). The effects of this kind of deception were examined by means of a survey among employees (N = 137) and managers (N = 14) of a Dutch healthcare organization. We hypothesized and found that perceived pseudo voice led to reduced voice behavior and, as a result, increased intragroup conflict. These results imply that while offering voice opportunity is mostly seen as an effective management strategy, negative effects are likely to occur when a manager is perceived to try to deceive employees by pretending to be interested in their points of view.


Deceit Intragroup conflict Pseudo voice Voice behavior Voice opportunity