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Journal Article

Organizational Silence: A Barrier to Change and Development in a Pluralistic World

Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison and Frances J. Milliken
The Academy of Management Review
Vol. 25, No. 4 (Oct., 2000), pp. 706-725
Published by: Academy of Management
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/259200
Page Count: 20
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Organizational Silence: A Barrier to Change and Development in a Pluralistic World
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Abstract

We argue that there are powerful forces in many organizations that cause widespread withholding of information about potential problems or issues by employees. We refer to this collective-level phenomenon as "organizational silence." In our model we identify contextual variables that create conditions conducive to silence and explore the collective sensemaking dynamics that can create the shared perception that speaking up is unwise. We also discuss some of the negative consequences of systemic silence, especially for organizations' ability to change and develop in the context of pluralism.

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