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Raj Ramanandi Jun 15, 2023 12:11:07 PM 2 min read

5 leading academics on Speakup culture

In today's workplace, being a 'yes-person' just won't cut it. Employees need to speak up and share their opinions and ideas without any fear of being shut down. This kind of speakup culture not only sparks creativity and innovation but also strengthens team dynamics. 

In your EDI work you may wish to seek the opinions of experts and researchers working in the field of speak-up culture, and the power of feedback in the workplace. There are several leading academics and researchers who have made significant contributions to the exploration of speak up culture and its impact on organisations. While it is important to note that research in this area is ongoing and new findings emerge regularly, here are a five prominent scholars and some key findings from their work:

1. Amy Edmondson - Amy Edmondson, a professor at Harvard Business School, is well-known for her research on psychological safety and its relation to speaking up in organisations. Her work emphasizes the importance of creating an environment where employees feel safe to voice their ideas, concerns, and mistakes. Edmondson's research has shown that psychological safety fosters innovation, learning, and improved team performance.

2. Ethan Burris - Ethan Burris, a professor at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, has conducted extensive research on employee voice and its impact on organisations. His studies have shown that when employees feel encouraged to speak up and are confident that their voices will be heard and valued, it leads to improved job satisfaction, higher levels of commitment, and increased performance.

3. Debra L. Shapiro - Debra L. Shapiro, a professor at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, has conducted research on the role of trust and conflict in employee voice. Her work highlights that trust plays a critical role in creating a speak up culture, as employees are more likely to voice their opinions and concerns when they trust that their feedback will be received positively and that it will lead to meaningful action.

4. James R. Detert - James R. Detert, a professor at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, has focused his research on speaking up behaviour and the challenges individuals face in doing so. His studies reveal that individuals often hesitate to speak up due to fear of negative consequences, such as retaliation or being seen as incompetent. Detert's work emphasises the need for organisations to address these concerns and create a supportive environment that encourages and rewards speaking up.

5. Leanne E. Atwater - Leanne E. Atwater, a professor at the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, has conducted research on leadership and employee voice. Her studies have shown that leaders play a crucial role in fostering a speak up culture by demonstrating openness, approachability, and responsiveness to employee input. Atwater's work emphasizes the need for leaders to actively seek and value employee perspectives to create an environment conducive to open communication.

These are just a few examples of leading academics and researchers who have contributed significantly to the exploration of speak up culture in organisations. Their research findings highlight the importance of psychological safety, trust, leadership, and addressing barriers to speaking up. It is worth noting that the field of study is dynamic, and new research is continually emerging, contributing to our understanding of how organisations can create and sustain a culture that encourages and values employee voice. We hope this helps build your understanding to take some steps to improving culture in your workplace!

Raj Ramanandi

Raj is Co-CEO and Founder of InChorus Group