How can the silence be broken? Caring ethical climate and employee silence
Main Article Content
Employee silence has been regarded as a significant factor related to many organizational outcomes; thus, breaking the silence has become a need for companies, and has attracted academic interest. We investigated the relationship between a caring ethical organizational climate and three dimensions of employee silence (i.e., acquiescent, defensive, and indifferent), as well as the mediating effect of psychological safety and the moderating effect of Chinese individual traditionality in this relationship. We conducted a survey with 568 employees of 50 Chinese companies. Our findings confirm that a caring ethical climate had a significant negative impact on all three dimensions of silence. Psychological safety mediated the relationship between caring ethical climate and both acquiescent and defensive employee silence, but its effect on the relationship between caring ethical climate and indifferent silence was nonsignificant. Chinese individual traditionality significantly moderated the impact of employees’ psychological safety on all three of the silence dimensions. Implications of these results for future research and how managers of companies can break employees’ silence are discussed.