The Relationship between Organizational Silence and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: A Case Study at Kilis 7 Aralik University

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The Relationship between Organizational Silence and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: A Case Study at Kilis 7 Aralik University
   ISSN: 2278 3369 International Journal of Advances in Management and Economics Available online at RESEARCH ARTICLE Melda Harbalioğlu  & Buket İnce Gültekin   | March-April 2014 | Vol.3|Issue2|153-164 153 The Relationship between Organizational Silence and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: A Case Study at Kilis 7 Aralik University Melda Harbalioğlu *1 , Buket İnce Gültekin 2 1  Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, Kilis Vocational High School, Kili s 7 Aralık University, Turkey . 2   Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration,  Kilis 7 Aralık University, Turkey. * Correspondence Author: E-mail:   mharbalioğ     Abstract The aim of this study is determining the relationship between the reasons of organizational silence and organizational citizenship behaviour. In the theoretical part of this article, the reasons of organisational silence and the dimensions of the organisational citizenship behaviours are explained in the conceptual framework. In the methodology part, 150 questionnaires were distributed to employees who work in Kilis 7 Aralik University by hand and 128 questionnaires were collected and analysed. With the data which derived from questionnaires, t-test,  ANOVA and correlation analysis were conducted. At the end of the analysis, most of employees stated that they remain silent because of the fear of breaking relationship and managerial-organisational reasons. Besides, it is found that employees have displayed acts of courtesy the most. According to the Pearson correlation analysis, there is a negative and weak relationship between organisational silence and organisational citizenship behaviour. At the end of the study some suggestions were made for organisations which want to create an organisational climate that struggle with organisational silence. Keywords: Organizational Silence, Organizational Citizenship Behaviour, Kilis 7 Aralik University. Introduction Organisational silence (OS), which is an important problem in organisations, can be descripted as an employee’s absence from activities that provide progress for the organisation, refrainment from sharing opinions and concerns and deliberately not sharing innovative opinions. The organisational climate that is comprised by organisational silence causes employees not to display OCB and this situation prevents organisational development and success. The aim of this study is to display the reasons of the organisational silence and its effects on OCB. In the theoretical part of this article, the reasons of organisational silence and the dimensions of the OCB are explained in the conceptual framework. In the empirical part, data from the questionnaire applied on Kilis 7 Aralik University is analysed. Conceptual Framework   Organisational Silence (OS) Silence can be considered to be related with morality elements such as humility, respect to others, common sense and kindness. In social relationship, silence is described as avoidance of problems, nuisance and bothers [18].Although the notion of silence is seen as a sign of commitment to the organisation at the beginning, it is in fact described as the intentional restraining of knowledge and opinions on organisational subjects and problems by employees [7].  According to another description, silence is that employees intentionally hide their ideas that may provide benefits for the organisation and solutions to its problems [16]. OS is a modern predicament of mankind who is becoming alienated to the world in which he lives in and of work life which is becoming ever more complicated. OS is an organisational problem which disturbs and silences today’s employees who have high standards of living as a result of technological advancements and high income levels [12]. In organizations which have high levels of control, conflicting ideas are managed closely and tightly with fear, suppression and propaganda. In fact, the right way to manage   Available online at   Melda Harbalioğlu  & Buket İnce Gültekin   | March-April 2014 | Vol.3|Issue2|153-164 154 conflicts and difference of opinions is an honest dialog [5]. Within this context, organizational climate should be constituted from different sources such as speaking about suggestions and worries, discussing problems, letting complaints by managers [26]. A democratic and qualified environment can be constructed through this way. Otherwise, decisions which are made without a discussion and negotiation will not be transparent [5]. The eagerness of employees to explain them, make suggestions and point out any incorrect processes will give rise to a situation that is important and beneficial at the management level [25]. Employees who are closest to the organisation’s operations and those who are in strategic positions can create an impact to guide organizational citizenship behaviour [5]. Reasons for Organisational Silence In th e past, employees’ silence was regarded as commitment sign of adaptation, but nowadays it is known that it is a reaction and social withdrawal [9]. The reasons of this reaction and social withdrawal behaviour are explained below:  Distrust against Managers  Topics that have been discussed most actively in research during recent years are decision making processes, the inability of managers, inequitable sharing, organisational inefficiencies and weak organisational performance. Employees believe that talking honestly about these topics will not create differences, they are afraid of getting negative feedback [24] and believe they will be punished if they oppose the organisation [17]. The fear of Social Isolation The main reason of employees’ silence towards organisational problems is fear and beliefs that are sourced from this fear. The srcin of the social isolation fear is the thought that “if I express problems within the organisation, it will cause other problems”. Characteristics of organisations do not allow employees to express problems related to the organisation and its hierarchical structure. Speaking about problems and concerns is perceived by managers as negative behaviour and this situation has a negative impact on employees. Negative perception and a negative label can cause these problems:    Trust and respect diminishes towards the employee    The employees’ social relationships within the organisation become weaker and in time the employee may even be socially excluded.    Employees believe that their behaviours and attitudes may damage their social position within the organisation and that this will have a negative impact on him/herself. Employees cannot work effectively without having a strong social position within the organisation [15]  Past Experiences Employees can learn being silent not only from bad personal experiences but also from conversations with their colleagues [15]. Employees who were under the influence of past experience may avoid reporting problems to their superiors or ignore them even though they realise problems early. Employees may prefer being silent by thinking that reporting problems may not work and cause problems with superiors [10].   The Fear of Breaking the Relationships Even though employees realise the weaknesses of organisational structure and processes, they may decide not to propose solutions by realising that other employees will not be happy with this situation. The real reason of the employee refraining to give solutions is the fear of breaking the relationships with other employees. An important source of organizational silence is the protection of relationships with other employees that are regarded as valuable [16]   Speaking Up Perceived Too Risky  Employees do not volunteer to mention their problems; they believe it is risky to do so [17]. Employees do not want to explain their ideas because they are afraid of being perceived as the employee who creates problems and cannot get a promotion. Therefore, it is necessary that employees should not be afraid of sharing opinions on organizational issues for successful team works [29]. Types and Forms of Organisational Silence Employees show their silence behaviour in many ways within the organisation which they display intentionally and consciously. These different ways of displaying OS can be listed as employee obedience, deaf-ear syndrome, remaining passive and acquiescence. Employee obedience  expresses the full acceptance of organisational conditions and situations without questioning and stresses on the limited awareness of current alternatives.  Deaf-ear syndrome  is defined as organisational inaction and this situation is in effect an organisational norm where employees refrain from openly expressing their discontent [23]. Another silence behaviour within organisations is remaining passive and acquiescence .  Employees may choose being silent and passive about organizational issues which are sensitive in order to protect themselves against   Available online at   Melda Harbalioğlu  & Buket İnce Gültekin   | March-April 2014 | Vol.3|Issue2|153-164 155 any reputational damage [15]. Employees’ perception of risk in speaking out and their refrainment from sharing their ideas prevents and delays solutions to existing problems, or makes them difficult. Employees will generally ignore situations if they believe they cannot create a difference and they will be unwilling to share their ideas and opinions [9]. Pinder and Harlos distinguished OS types into 2 categories which are Acquiescent Silence and Defensive Silence [23]. Dyne et al added a third category; Pro Social Silence. In this study the types of organizational silence are explained in the following three categories [9]. Employee Silence Intentionally withholding work-related ideas, information, and opinions  Disengaged Behaviour Based on Resignation Feeling unable to make a difference  Acquiescence Silence Examples: Withholding ideas based on resignation Keeping opinions to self due to low self-efficacy to make a difference Self-Protective Behaviour Based on Fear Feeling afraid and personally at risk Defensive Silence Examples: Withholding information on problems based on fear Omitting facts to protect the self Other-Oriented Behaviour Based on Cooperation Feeling cooperative and altruistic Prosocial Silence Examples: Withholding confidential information based on cooperation Protecting proprietary knowledge to benefit the organisation Fig 1:   Examples of specific types of silence   Source: [9]  Acquiescent Silence  Acquiescent silence is defined as employees not sharing their knowledge and ideas on a situation as a result of their acceptance of changes related to a problem, situation or subject. Employees who possess the acquiescent silence characteristic exhibit behaviour of accepting the current situation and they do not realise that alternatives exist. Figure 1 shows cases of Acquiescent Silence which define behaviour that is purposely passive or uninvolved. For instance, an employee may hide her/his ideas about a change, because the employee believes that speaking up is useless and will not change anything. On the other hand, an employee may withhold knowledge and ideas with the conviction that he/she cannot affect the situation due to low self-efficacy. The notion of silence in these two examples is caused by the employee’s fundamental acceptance. If employees believe that they cannot create a difference in situations, they disengage with work, and they become reluctant to contribute to the organisation [9].  Defensive Silence Employees have two fundamental goals that standout amongst others. The first one is earning money to cover costs for themselves and their families, and the second one is ensuring they are accepted among other people in the workplace and having social capital. In order to achieve these goals, employees may prefer to be silent in some situations [11].   Figure 1 shows particular examples of defensive silence. The refrainment from sharing information as a result of fear that it is too personally risky to do so is a form of defensive silence. The exclusion of facts by an employee related to an issue with the intention of protecting oneself is another example. This self-protecting behaviour may be driven from the fear of being found guilty in causing the problem. Likewise, employees concealing their personal faults in order to protect themselves is a form of defensive silence [9].   Prosocial Silence Pro-social silence can be described as employees not expressing their work related knowledge and Te of Behaviour →   Employee Motive ↓     Available online at   Melda Harbalioğlu  & Buket İnce Gültekin   | March-April 2014 | Vol.3|Issue2|153-164 156 ideas in relation to a collaboration motive to benefit the organisation or other employees. This silence is displayed actively and intentionally [28]. Particular examples for prosocial silence can be seen in Figure 1. For instance, employees may protect their knowledge for the advantage of the organisation by displaying cooperative and other-oriented behaviour. Likewise, the non-disclosure of information with the intention of protecting its confidentiality and preventing unwanted third parties from accessing it could be regarded as prosocial Silence. Another reason for hiding information is if the employee is in a position which is not suitable to discuss that information. Finally, the protection of private information is also an example of prosocial silence. It involves not sharing personal information about others inappropriately and keeping them safe. One can see in these examples that it is up to the employee to deliberately and proactively refrain from conveying particular ideas, knowledge or solutions with the intention of the organisation being the beneficiary of this behaviour [9].   Organizational Citizenship Behaviour (OCB) Organizational citizenship behaviour can be described as being attached to the organization and the employee conviction that he/she is a part of the organisation. Organizational citizenship behaviour is beyond the official job description. It exceeds job role requirements and expectations. It covers the behaviours that are beyond the voluntary roles assumed by employees in order to contribute to the organisation. The OCB concept reflects personal voluntary behaviours which contribute to the sociological and psychological climate of the organisation [27]. There is a difference between official organisational behaviours and OCBs. Behaviours which are not official can be described as “OCBs” or “good soldier syndrome”. Good soldier syndrome prevents unwanted behaviours such as looking for mistakes of colleagues, arguing with other employees and complaining about other employees. It covers being punctual and innovative, helping others and volunteering [21].  According to Organ, there are three fundamental characteristics of OCB: 1) OCBs are voluntary, 2) official reward system does not reward these behaviours, 3) in total they improve effective functions of the organisation [20]. OCBs improve organisational performance and effectiveness, employees’ productiveness, productiveness in using and sharing resources, the orientation ability and coordination between employees and departments [32]. The Dimensions of the Organisational Citizenship Behaviour When the literature about OCB is examined, it is seen that there is no consensus about categorisation of the dimensions and there are different categories in different studies. However, the most commonly used is Organ’s categorisations. These dimensions are listed below [30]:  Altruism: assistance to an individual colleague on a task,  Courtesy: warning other people in the organization regarding changes which may have an impact on their work  Conscientiousness: conducting one`s tasks in a manner that exceeds the minimum requirements Sportsmanship: avoiding complaining about insignificant issues  Civic virtue: taking part in the management of the organization. Organizational citizenship behaviour aims to maximise the productivity of the organisation and it protects the organisation from unwanted and destructive behaviours by creating effective coordination. People who work in effective organisations work beyond the official job responsibilities. They do not work because of orders, obligations or compensations. Their devoted behaviours are not in the official job description and they just comply with the organ isation’s arranged operation [3]. Literature Review   Milliken and others, aimed to identify the reasons why employees were unwilling to get a promotion and why employees chose to be silent in work related relationships. In the interviews that were conducted with 40 employees who were subject to these specific situations, it was found that the most important reasons of silence were the fear of prominence and negative reputation if they stopped being silent [15]. Cakici, conducted a study which aimed to determine the subjects in which employees remained silent and their reasons and how employees perceived the consequences of silence in a university. He found that 70% of university staff prefers being silent and 30% of them choose to speak up. The subjects which employees prefer being silent are ethical issues and responsibilities, management issues, employee performance, improvement process and work facilities [6].   Available online at   Melda Harbalioğlu  & Buket İnce Gültekin   | March-April 2014 | Vol.3|Issue2|153-164 157 Bayram, conducted a research which aimed to determine the level perception of OS of academics.  At the end of his research, he observed that academics received scores from the OS scale which create meaningful differences based on their age, title, term of employment and administrative functions. In particular, the fear of social isolation was observed to be effective on academics to prefer silence [4]. Kahveci, tried to determine the level of teachers` and managers` OS and organisational commitment and the relationship between them in primary schools. According to this study, the level of OS perception of participants is high. This result shows that teachers and managers who work in primary schools cannot speak up their problems and they generally prefer to be silent [13]. Moreover, Alparslan, carried out a similar research with academics and he found that academics do not have OS perception and they do not display silence behaviours [2]. Donaghey and others, wrote an article called “Conceptualisation of the Employees` Silence: Issues and Suggestions”. With references to their article, we can say OS is a management problem [8]. Nikmaram and others, conducted a study to determine the relationship between OS and organisational commitment where 313 professors and 187 officers from Tehran University were used as test subjects. The results of the correlation analysis and t-test were compared. In these two groups, there is a correlation between employees` silence and organisational commitment, but the strength of the correlations are different for each group. It was observed that the relationship is stronger amongst the professors [19]. Panahi and others, examined the factors which influence OS and their impact on organisational commitment in the Payame Noor University. 260 employees participated in this study. According to this study, there is an important and meaningful relationship between the dimensions of OS and employees` organisational commitment. Besides this, management pressure and the decreasing opportunities of employee communication increase employee silence [22].  Aliogullari, did a questionnaire study with 256 employees who work in Erzurum medicine distribution companies and the Erzurum State Hospital to examine the relationship between OS and OCB. This study determined a negative relationship between OS and OCB. Meaningful differences were found in terms of employee age, sex, educational background, term of employment and the type of company [1]. Kilinc, tried to expose OCB, OS and employee performance and the relationship between them. He carried out his study nurses and doctors.  According to the study which was conducted by Kilinc, nurses show more mercy, altruism, kindness than doctors who are also academics. With regards to assistant doctors, they displayed more accepted silence behaviour and defensive silence than nurses [14]. Methodology The Model of Research Firstly, whether or not there is a meaningful relationship between the demographic characteristics of employees and OS was investigated by determining the demographic characteristics of employees. Then, the relationship between OS and OCB and its direction was determined. Fig 2:   Research model  The universe of this research is people who were employed by Kilis 7 Aralik University during Sub-dimension of organizational citizenship behaviour Demographic characteristics   Sex Age Marital status Income The role in the organisation Title Reasons for organizational silence  Managerial and organizational   Work related topic   Lack of experience The fear of social isolation   The fear of damaging the relationship Altruism Courtesy Conscientiousness Sportmanship Civic Virtue
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