Find out more about silence and the project.

Silence in the context of work and organizational studies is being defined as the withholding of work-related ideas, questions, or concerns from someone who could effect change.

The central aim of the project is to advance knowledge on workplace silence. More specifically, we examine international differences and similarities in employees’ tendencies to express vs. withhold their views at work and try to learn more about
1) the scope,
2) antecedents, and
3) consequences of employee silence in different cultural regions.


Regarding the scope of silence at work, we apply a differentiated approach that allows distinguishing cultural differences in the motives employees may have for withholding their views (e.g., fear, resignation, insecurity, disengagement, prosocial, and opportunistic motives; Brinsfield, 2013; Knoll & van Dick, 2013).

Regarding the antecedents of differentially-motivated silence, we differentiate between proximal work context such as leadership, team climate, and organizational culture and distal context whereby we focus on cultural dimensions (as defined, for example, in the GLOBE study; House et al., 2004) and cultural syndromes (e.g., culture of honor, face cultures). We are also interested in identifying effects that are associated with specific branches (e.g., health care sector, finance, engineering), professions (e.g., doctors), and worker groups (e.g., migrants, employees with chronical illnesses and workers in fragile status or socio-economic situations).

Regarding to consequences of employee silence, we examine differential relationships of silence motives with health, well-being, and indicators of sustainable development (e.g., performance, learning).



Brinsfield, C. T. (2013). Employee silence motives: Investigation of dimensionality and development of measures. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34, 671–697.

House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (Eds.). (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations : the GLOBE study of 62 societies. Sage Publications.

Knoll, M., & van Dick, R. (2013). Authenticity, employee silence, prohibitive voice, and the moderating effect of organizational identification. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(4), 346–360.

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