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The influence of national culture on employee voice in small and medium enterprises: a cross-cultural perspective

Aidan McKearney (LSBU Business School, London South Bank University, London, UK)
Rea Prouska (LSBU Business School, London South Bank University, London, UK)
Monrudee Tungtakanpoung (LSBU Business School, London South Bank University, London, UK)
John Opute (LSBU Business School, London South Bank University, London, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 29 November 2022

Issue publication date: 1 February 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how employee voice in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is shaped by national culture. Specifically, the paper explores the relationship between national culture and organisational norms and signals. Furthermore, it explores the impact of such norms on employee voice behaviours. The paper chooses to address these issues in the SME context, in three countries with divergent cultural dimensions.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use Kwon and Farndale’s (2020) typology as our “a priori” framework to explore the influence of national cultural values and cultural tightness on SME organisation norms, signals and employee voice behaviours. Our study uses qualitative data gathered through in-depth interviews with SME employees in England, Nigeria and Thailand.

Findings

The results from our interviews are presented thematically. The data illustrates how the cultural dimensions identified by Kwon and Farndale (2020) can have an influence on organisational voice norms. The dimensions are power distance, uncertainty avoidance, in-group collectivism, performance orientation, assertiveness and cultural tightness.

Originality/value

Historically, the impact of national culture as a macro factor on voice has been largely ignored by academic research. Studies in non-western contexts are especially rare. This paper derives its originality by offering unique insights into the culture–voice relationship from both western and non-western perspectives. This provides an international, cross-cultural, comparative dimension to our study. This research includes findings from under-researched settings in Nigeria and Thailand.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was internally funded by the London Centre for Business and Entrepreneurship Research at LSBU Business School, London South Bank University, UK.

Citation

McKearney, A., Prouska, R., Tungtakanpoung, M. and Opute, J. (2023), "The influence of national culture on employee voice in small and medium enterprises: a cross-cultural perspective", Employee Relations, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 478-494. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-04-2022-0187

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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