Department of Management

A spiral of voice? When employees speak up on internal social media

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the discursive tactics that employees use when they speak up on internal social media (ISM) to gain support for their cause, and how this can develop into a “spiral of voice” when organizational members interact with each other on ISM. Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on screenshots of four months of coworker communication on ISM in a Danish bank and on semi-structured interviews with 24 employees. Findings: Employees succeeded in speaking up and gaining support on ISM by using eight different discursive tactics. These tactics helped move organizational issues from an operational to a strategic level, thus making the issues relevant for management as well as gaining the support of other coworkers. The visibility and persistence of communication on ISM forced managers to react. Research limitations/implications: Further research should investigate whether similar tactics and reactions occur in organizations with a less open communication culture where it might be less safe for employees to speak up. Practical implications: Organizations need to be aware of the dynamics of the “spiral of voice” and of the way in which the visibility and persistence of communication on ISM forces managers to handle organizational issues. Originality/value: This study is the first to explore what happens when employees speak up on ISM and to propose the concept of “a spiral of voice” as an extension of the theory of “the spiral of silence” (Noelle-Neumann, 1974).

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Communication Management
Pages (from-to)331-347
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Employee communication, Internal communication, Internal social media, Organizational communication, Social media

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