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The Impact of Organizational Culture on Organizational Silence and Voice of Faculty Members of Islamic Azad University in Tehran.


We live in the era of continuous changes. Today's organizations are faced with a changing and unpredictable environment (Farhangi et al., 2014). Therefore, organizations need employees who express their opinions. On the contrary, employees also tend to choose organizations that accept and use their viewpoints. Managers and employees will have better performance in an environment without silence (Chang et al., 2016). Silence can have destructive effects on the decision-making process and organizational changes (Huang, et al., 2005). Appelbaum and his colleagues (2000) believe that silence is deemed as a major obstacle for organizational changes.

In the current era, researchers and scholars in the field of organization and management play an important role in the creation of knowledge and empowerment. Moreover, survival is largely dependent on the knowledge coming from human resources. Undoubtedly, organizational knowledge capitalist is the key factor to the survival in today's competitive world. Organizations nowadays have realized the importance of human capital as well as the fact that they need employees who assist organizations by expressing ideas and opinions. Individuals also tend toward organizations in which they can submit their comments, ideas, and suggestions because both managers and employees will be motivated and will have higher performance in an environment far from silence (Dan et al., 2008).

Researchers always seek for factors of facilitating ways of expressing ideas by employees. According to Pinder and Harlos (2001), organizations with injustice culture foster a climate in which the employees give up to comment on the organizational issues. When employees believe that they can express their opinions and ideas and their suggestions may result in important changes in the organizational climate, they will bring benefits to their organization by expressing ideas (Doostar & Esmaeelzadeh, 2013).

On the other hand, lack of appropriate culture within the organization could be an obstacle to the creation of voice phenomenon. Voice and silence are two intertwined strategies in organizations. Organizational voice is a desirable phenomenon and this is not only because of strategic communication with management, but it is an appropriate communicational tool in order to improve the organization (Dyne et al., 2003). Reluctance in sharing information, talking and providing feedback has negative impact on employees' confidence, morale, and motivation. In addition, denial to present information and ideas in an organization can weaken the process of decision-making and correction of mistakes. Moreover, it can prevent development and innovation.

Some researchers consider voice as an opportunity for individuals to express their opinions and transfer them to decision-makers. Some others define voice as the expression of job dissatisfaction (Liu et al., 2010). Cultural infrastructure is needed for creating voice. Therefore, understanding the dominant corporate culture in educational institutions could encourage them to produce the right voice.

According to the researches ever done (Dana'eefard et al., 2011; Nikmaram et al., 2012; Li-hong et al., 2011; Nikolaou et al., 2011), we can claim that organizational silence and lack of voice are two pervasive phenomena in most of organizations. Furthermore, they are considered as obstacles to reach organizational goals. Most of the researches verify the significant relationships between types of culture and silence climate in organizations. Among them, there are a few ones which carried out studies on the impact of culture on organizational voice and silence and this indicates the importance of the problem.

Universities, such as Iranian universities, especially Islamic Azad universities, are among organizations in which organizational silence is an obvious phenomenon. Education, research, presenting services, preservation and transmission of cultural heritage, and technology are among functions of universities. Moreover, human resources who are skilled in innovation, invention, scientific exploration, production, and development of knowledge beyond its boundaries are the outputs of universities.

Lack of interests towards education and research, fading team working, lack of adaptability and consistency among faculty members of Islamic Azad universities led them to silence. Thus, students as the main outcomes of universities who will be the main resources of business marketing will be suffered.

Moreover, one of the main reasons caused the lack of skilled employees is the silence of faculty members who can transfer their experiences and knowledge to students and also can share their knowledge to other faculty members.

As a result, study of the culture, silence, and voice of academics (e.g., professors) who play a key role in universities is a crucial factor which needs more attention.

Literature Background

Organizational voice is a desirable phenomenon in organizations, not only because of its appropriate strategy for communication with management but also as an appropriate and purposeful tool to improve the organization. Reluctance to share information, talk, and provide feedback will have negative influence on employees' confidence and motivation. Failure to provide information and ideas can affect decision-making processes and error correction in the organization and prevent development and innovation. Some researchers consider voice as an opportunity to express opinions and transfer them to decision-makers and some others define it as job dissatisfaction (Liu et al., 2010).

Since employees are the source of changes, innovation, and partnership in organizations, their coordination is necessary to achieve the main goals. Although creation of voice in an organization is deemed as one of the most significant sources of organizational changes, employees usually do not present their opinions and information, and this is exactly the opposite side of voice which Morrison and Miliken (2000) named it "organizational silence". They discussed the social aspects of silence and voice, while other researchers such as Ashford and others (1998), and Zhou and George (2001) investigated the individual aspects of them (Dana'eefard et al., 2011). Employees' silence results in negative consequences that are detriment to both organization and employees. In terms of organization, silence denotes that organizations cannot use their intellectual capitals. In such circumstances, organizational problems are not identified, feedback is not given, information is not exchanged, and solution is not proposed. Hence all steps of a successful organizational decision-making and organizational change will fail to take place (Karaka, 2013).

In the book Dance of Change, Senge believes that silence climate occurs if organizations have a closed-minded setting to interact with others (Senge et al., 1999). In addition, managers of such organizations cannot change it easily since they have worked in a climate accompanied by silence and fear for a long time. Therefore, by maintaining silence climate, employee' satisfaction could be strengthened and silence could be accepted as a norm for newcomers to the organization. Emergence of silence climate would lead to the reduction in the organization's ability to detect errors and to learn. In fact, such a climate will also affect organizational effectiveness. Silence of employees may provoke tension, mistrust, frustration and withdrawal (Khanifar et al., 2012).

Experts introduced some motivations which result in silence and voice behaviors as obedient, defensive and altruist behaviors. These motivations arise from two types of active and passive behaviors and lead to three types of silence and voice, including the obedient, defensive, and altruistic silence. Obedient silence refers to the lack of expression of ideas, comments, and information that will be created because of surrounding and acquiesce in any situation. Another kind of silence is more passive and a sign of avoidance behavior. When people are afraid to express their knowledge, defensive silence will be created. Employees may refuse to express their information and ideas in order to keep their status in organization. In fact, it is created by the protective motivation. Defensive silence like the obedient one is a kind of passive but deliberate behavior. For the next kind of silence, the employees refuse to provide information and express their views for the benefit of others and cooperation with their partners. This type of silence is usually non-passive and intentional. Silence due to altruism is a rational silence that focuses on the ideas of others. Although it is as same as defensive silence in providing information, it is not only out of fear, but altruistic behavior is involved (Zarei Matin et al., 2011). Dana'eefard and his colleagues (2011) showed that there is a relationship between organizational culture and silence climate or behavior. The results of their study also indicated a positive correlation between the four dimensions of organizational culture and silence.

Hirschman (1970) was the first one who proposed voice and explained about it. He defined it as any attempt to change instead of running away from situations. According to him, employees' reactions may result in dissatisfaction or leaving the organization. Following this comment, studies were conducted on the concept and factors affecting management. Some researchers considered voice as an opportunity to express opinions and explain them to the decision makers, and some others defined voice as an opportunity to express job dissatisfaction (Liu et al., 2010). Van Dyne and LePine (1998) defined voice as a beyond duty issue and believe that this phenomenon is carried out entirely on a voluntary basis. They also defined voice as a promotional behavior in which employees are engaged to express constructive opinions and help to improve situations.

Dyne and his colleagues (2003) believe that employees' motivations are the basis of voice creation. Accordingly, they classified voice regarding the three types of motivations including obedient voice, defensive voice, and altruistic voice. The first type of voice is accompanied by neutrality; as employees believe that they cannot change the status, they only express their approved and agreed views on the current situation. For the second type, the person believes that his comments might have bad consequences; hence he expresses his point of view on this basis. Regarding this type of voice, the person is in fact protecting himself by expressing his comments. As for the third type of voice, it can be noted that the person expresses his idea on a subject when he realizes that this could help the organization, in other words, the organization can take advantages of his point of view. The motivation of such a voice is altruism and goodwill (Doostar & Esmaeelzadeh, 2013). According to Karaka (2013), organizational and administrative reasons (including organizational culture) are the most effective factors on silence. Moreover, their study demonstrated that having confidence from the fact that employees express their opinions and their positive relationship with the managers lead to enhancement of their performance and efficiency. Bozorgnia, Hosseini and Enayati (2014) demonstrated that there is a negative relationship between organizational silence and employees' performance.

Voice climate has a close relationship with organizational commitment, and usually occurs in a situation such as participation, empowerment, and dissatisfaction. Though many of the previous researchers presented similar definitions for voice behavior and voice climate, they are two different phenomena. In fact, voice climate refers to expressing employees' ideas, views and information voluntarily in order to improve their organization status (Morrison & Milliken, 2000). Perceptions which employees make out of voice climate in their organization arise from organizational authorities' behavior towards encouraging and discouraging employees to express their ideas. There is a difference between positive voice climate and a climate where employees are encouraged to provide comments. In fact, voice climate is divided into positive voice climate where providing comments is encouraged, and it is safe and effective, and negative voice climate which is silence.

Organizational silence and voice are of the intertwined strategic communications that in fact, imply expressing or not expressing employees' points of view (Dyne et al., 2003). Voice is a broad concept and it cannot be a positive issue solely, but can sometimes be a destructive and harmful behavior. Joseph and Dai (2009) showed that there is a positive and significant relationship between organizational culture and involvement of employees'. Therefore, it should be investigated that which variables can strengthen organizational voice in individuals and eliminate the negative aspects. Morrison defined organizational voice as the issue which have two basic components including safety and efficiency. The main reason of tendency to silence among employees is that the authorities and leaders of organizations usually do not pay special attention to the employees' problems and always believe that "no news is good news". They always believe that they are aware of whatever happens in their organizations (Oslon & Bosol, 2008). Wang and his colleagues (2014) showed that there is a positive relationship between job growth and organizational voice behavior. This leads to improper understanding of organizational problems and issues and not adopting constructive decisions, therefore, there could be a considerable decrease in working life quality and good working conditions. Zhang, Huai and Xie (2015) showed that when there is a high level of leader-follower exchange and challenging factors are at low levels, the level of organizational voice increases. On the other hand, by increasing the level of challenging factors, the level of organizational voice decreases initially, but the continuation of this process results in an increase in the level of organizational voice. The absence of proper culture in an organization could be the main reason for lack of voice and the creation of the organizational silence.

Over the past two decades, theorists and experts in the field of organization and management, particularly experts in organizational behavior, studied culture and believe that it is considered as one of the most important issues in organizations. This subject was studied by many experts including Warren Bennis, Edgar Schein, and William Archilla. Therefore, this issue was entitled organizational culture and became a popular non-material aspect in organizations (Rahimnia & Alizadeh, 2009). Organizational culture is one of the most important factors in the survival and growth of organizations. Neglecting positive organizational culture, employees cannot be expected to provide innovative activities, intellectual capital, and change and adaptation of learning and intellectual capital with creativity. When the organizational culture is not effective, the organization cannot take risks, be dynamic, provide reasonable reaction to changes in the environment, and have the flexibility (Valencia et al., 2010).

Robbins (1991), in his management book, defined organizational culture as an indicator which shows the way of doing things, and the same organizational concept which every employee can see it. In fact, it is a common characteristic which separate the organizations from each other. In other words, organizational culture determines the social identity of any organization. Denison (2000) believes that fundamental values, beliefs, assumptions of organizations, behavioral patterns and symbols that suggest a link between the members' assumptions, values and behaviors are called organizational culture.

Denison (2000) also believes that organizational culture refers to the values and beliefs that are the basis of management systems and organizational activities. In general, organizational culture is a mysterious, coherent and complex character of organization in three intertwined levels of conscious (a series of tangible and visible behavioral practices, perceptions and symbols), semiconscious (a set of values, beliefs, norms, attitudes and expectations) and unconscious (a set of fundamental assumptions) that not only specifies the identity of the organization but also affects organizational functions at all levels (Khakpour, 2010, p. 84). Davood Almousavi (2013) found a positive significant relationship between organizational culture and job satisfaction factors. In addition, Hasanpour and Eskandari (2011) showed that lack of adaptability creates more barriers to behavioral factors in offering and developing partnerships. According to Denison, organizational culture consisted of four characteristics: engagement in work (involvement), consistency (stability and integrity), adaptability (flexibility), and mission.

Involvement has three indicators including empowerment, team working and capability development. Values which result in high levels of engagement have significant place in organizations compared to individual performance in organizations (Rahimnia & Alizadeh, 2009).

About consistency, stability, and integrity, Denison (2000) deduced that since there are main agreements on the concepts of words, actions and symbols, communication is a reliable process for the exchange of information in organizations. In such a culture, a common vision and belief emerges among the employees which lead to increase in the level of integrity and perception of employees towards both other employees and organization.

Adaptability refers to the cultures which lead the organization to coordinate with environment and to increase the level of effectiveness and efficiency. In fact, adaptability enables organizations to better respond to internal and external environments.

Mission focuses on important principle of culture which refers to the same definition of organizational objectives. It not only has a positive impact on organizational investment and progression but determines the ways that help organizations move towards their tendencies. Understanding an organization's mission allows to organize behavioral flow based on the desired future (Dennison & Lim, 2006, p. 25).

Since achieving competitive advantage requires employees' empowerment and open communicational mechanism between organizations, most staff members believe that their organization does not have such a mechanism; in fact, communicational channels and sharing information are not supported by authorities. One of the most important issues towards achieving organizational goal is the lack of adequate information, lack of trust between employees and silence which stem from weak organizational culture.

As less attention was paid to organizational silence in Iranian organizational and academic societies, the present study intends to define and explain the concepts of organizational silence and voice, and investigate different types of them and individuals' motivations in choosing them by reviewing the related literature in order to determine the effective organizational, managerial, and individual factors in the emergence of organizational silence, as well as to identify the resultant consequences and present strategies for reducing organizational silence. Since organizational silence could be a barrier to express ideas and opinions of individuals in an organization, identifying its types and factors affecting it and trying to eliminate them could be beneficial in line with providing conditions for expressing ideas, enhancing employees' creativity and facilitating the path of growth and excellence.

Universities are kind of the organizations that can encompass both phenomena of organizational silence and voice. The process governing universities includes education, research, preservation, and transmission of cultural heritage and technology and their output includes specialists and human resources expert in innovation, inventions, scientific exploration and production. Therefore, study of culture and quality of academics (professors) who play a key role in universities is very important. Organizational culture is a system of mutual perception which members have with respect to an organization and this feature leads to differentiation between the two organization (Niaz Azari & Taghvai Yazdi, 2010). Organizational culture gives identity to the employees, makes group commitment, results in stability of social system, forms employees' behavior and affects the process of management. The present study is willing to provide a model to answer the following question: What is the impact of organizational culture on organizational silence and voice?

According to the studies conducted in the field of organizational climate, many organizations have found that most of people know the facts about the origins of organizational problems and issues, but a few of them dare to say the truth to managers. In this regard, Lopez (2016) indicated that leaders' organizational culture may cause to silent organizational culture; he suggested transformational leadership approach to improve its culture and minimize organizational silence. Dedahanov et al., (2016) also found that power distance and collectivism in organizational culture induce relational silence. Moreover, Jones (2016) indicated that learning how to create the conditions where employees continuously break the silence, raise and respond to concerns is essential in establishing a continuous and responsive learning culture. The results of the study by Dedahanov et al. (2016 a) revealed that some organizational factors as punishment and communication opportunities are significantly associated with silence. Silence showed a positive relationship with stress, and it mediates the relationship between punishment and stress. Dana'eefard et al. (2011) indicated that weak culture prevents employees from telling the truth. Moreover, Hassanpour and Eskandari (2011) indicated that employees prefer to be silent because of obstacles in the way of organizational suggestion structure. Yildiz (2013) deduced that employees refuse to express their feelings due to the fear coming from supervisors' feedback. Karaka (2013) stated that employees have a negative attitude towards expressing their ideas. However, it should be clarified that if an organization's intellectual capital keeps silent, then employees' mind will be fossilized and organizations will be faced with reduction of performance (Morrison & Milliken, 2000), decrease of job satisfaction (Appelbaum et al., 2000), reduction of productivity (Morrison & Milliken, 2000; Pinder & Harlos, 2001) and decrease of commitment among members. In addition, organizations cannot use these valuable resources in the global competition in order to develop their business.

Model Development and Hypotheses

The impact of the organizational culture dimensions on organizational silence

Dennison organizational culture model influences organizational trends. It contains four dimensions including involvement, consistency, adaptability, and mission and plays an important role within an organization. Involvement can influence organizational behavior by using empowerment, team working and development, it can also impact on employees' behaviors and persuade them to share their information and ideas with their partners, therefore, silence, which is considered as a destructive problem for organization life, will be decreased as a result. (Morrison & Milliken, 2000). Consistency is another dimension in which different component such as creation of change, focusing on customer, and organizational learning can help employees to welcome to any changing condition by sharing their opinion and information. Furthermore, adaptability consists of fundamental values, agreement, and integration among members of organizations which help them to remember the organizational main goal and cooperate with each other to correct their errors. Moreover, mission is one of the most important dimensions in organizational culture in which strategic direction, goals and objectives, and organizational vision help members to follow a right order according to organizational philosophy and try to decrease silence.

First hypothesis: Organizational culture has impact on organizational silence of faculty members of Islamic Azad Universities in Tehran.

As mentioned above, according to Dennison model of organizational culture, it includes four main dimensions. Sense of involvement leads employee to undertake the responsibility, so they oblige themselves to talk to each other and suggest their opinions. Involvement is done by empowering the employees and team working. On the other hand, consistency is considered as a bridge for organizational learning and it is a way to embrace the changes. By learning, employees accept that stability happens in the shadow of voice, because, by employing voice, they can understand organizational obstacles better than before (Van Dyne et al., 2003). Paying more attention to customers is another way for having consistency, thus sharing information with customers by voice and listening to their demands make them more satisfied. Furthermore, adaptable processes in organizations helps employees to consider the change as uncertainty and issues are due to happen in every situation. In this regard, they can improve the organizational level by agreement and integration. Moreover, mission focuses on the important issue that culture influences organizational improvement. In addition, understanding the mission of an organization helps employees to change their behavior according to the desirable future and also helps them to share their knowledge with newcomers more conveniently.

Based on the results of the study, the researchers suggest to managers to develop a culture of participation which can enhance individual and organizational performances. Another suggestion is that the creation of common concepts and goals among faculty members can give them motivation and direction. Besides, creation of flexibility in organizational structure and programs result in increased effectiveness of employees.

Second hypothesis: Organizational culture has impact on organizational voice of faculty members of Islamic Azad Universities in Tehran.

Regarding the second hypothesis, the researchers suggest to managers to encourage their employees to express ideas since using their points of view is an important key in achieving competitive advantage. On the other hand, managers should encourage their employees to develop a participatory approach which helps them to express their ideas, information and knowledge.

According to Dennison model of organizational culture, and also Dyne model of organizational voice and silence, conceptual model of the research is displayed in Figure 1.

Research Method and Instruments

Since the present study aims to investigate the impact of organizational culture on organizational silence and voice of faculty members of Islamic Azad Universities in Tehran, the research method was applied as well as a descriptive-analytical and correlational analysis. The research population consisted of 1803 of faculty members of Islamic Azad Universities in Tehran in the academic year of 2014-2015. In order to collect the required data, stratified random sampling method was used. A 317-individual sample size was chosen according to Krejcie and Morgan Table. The population and sample size data of the research are displayed in Table 1.

The main tool used for data collection was a questionnaire. In order to prevent the loss of sample, 400 questionnaires were distributed and 319 questionnaires were returned. The questionnaire consisted of 66 questions: 36 questions for organizational culture, 15 questions for organizational silence and 15 questions for organizational voice. Denison (2000) questionnaire was utilized in order to measure organizational culture and for organizational silence and organizational voice, Van Dyne et al., (2003) questionnaires were used (organizational silence and voice were measured by separate questionnaires but the same name components have investigated the organizational voice and silence). Cronbach's alpha coefficient and content and construct validity were used to investigate the reliability and validity of the measurement instruments, respectively. Moreover, the validity of the questionnaires was confirmed by the relevant experts and specialists. The structural equation modeling by Lisrel software was used to measure the effects of organizational culture on organizational silence and voice.

To investigate the factor loading of the items, items related to each latent variable which had the greatest factor loading with that factor indicate the appropriateness of the final indicators. The minimum factor loadings of the items with the relevant factor is 0.4 which the obtained values less than this value are eliminated due to inappropriateness and factor analysis is performed again. The obtained results for reliability of the questionnaires (Cronbach's alpha and composite reliability) and convergent validity for each variable are displayed in Table 2.

As mentioned above, combining reliability and Cronbach's alpha coefficients are greater than 0.7 for all variables in all the three dimensions which verified the reliability of the measurement tool; moreover, as the average variances extracted (AVE) in all the variables are above 0.5, it can be concluded that convergent validity is established as well.

For divergent validity, the difference between the indicators of one structure and other structures in the model were compared. The comparison is made between AVE square root of each structure and correlation coefficients of structures. This is also done by a matrix in which the value of main diameter of matrix is AVE square root of each structure and also the values above and below the main diameter are the correlation coefficients of each structure as compared with other structures. The matrix is shown on Table 3.

AVE square root values represent the highest value in rows and columns which means convergent validity is established among the variables.

Data Analysis

Descriptive analysis

Sample description

Table 4 summarizes the sample in terms of demographic features.

According to Table 4, the present study was performed on 319 subjects including 195 males and 124 females. Moreover, 38 of the subjects were aged under 30, 121 were aged between 30 and 40, 102 were aged between 40 and 50, and 58 ones were aged more than 50. In this regard, the highest percentage of subjects were between 30 and 40 years old, and the lowest percentage were subjects who were under 30 years old. In addition, according to Table 4, 147 of the subjects studied in engineering and technology, 128 of the subjects studied in humanities and 44 of the subjects studied in other fields.

Testing the hypotheses and model

In this part, the confirmatory factor analysis of each variable are presented. The following table indicates path and significance coefficients in standard mode which presents the organizational culture.

According to Table 5, the path coefficients of four organizational culture components are verified as T significant coefficients that are above 1.96. The following table indicates path and significance coefficients in standard mode which presents the organizational silence.

According to Table 6, the path coefficients of three organizational silence components are verified as T significant coefficients are above 1.96. The following table indicates path and significance coefficients in standard mode which presents the organizational voice.

According to Table 7, the path coefficients of three organizational voice components are verified as T significant coefficients are above 1.96.

Inferential analysis

Testing the research model and hypotheses

Figure 2 shows the conceptual model of the research in the state of standard coefficient estimation.

As shown in Figure 2, according to the path coefficients, the impact of organizational culture on organizational silence and voice are calculated as - 0.51 and 0.67. T significant coefficients are also shown based on the research conceptual model.

The significant coefficient shows that the value for all paths is greater than 2.58, thus, the research hypotheses are verified by 99% of confidence.

According to Figure 3, the result of performing the model shows that organizational culture has a negative and significant impact on organizational silence and a positive and significant impact on organizational voice.

According to the path and significant coefficient which mentioned above, the hypotheses results are shown in the following table:

As shown in Table 8, due to significant coefficient, both hypotheses are verified.

The model fitness indicators are also shown in the table below:

According to Table 9, it can be concluded that due to the acceptable range, the observed values of fitness indicators are in suitable values, thus the presented model has suitable fitness.

To determine the current status of organizational culture, organizational silence, organizational voice and their components, one-sample t-test was used. It should be noted, before using this test, the data were studied concerning the normal distribution of variables and the findings indicated a normal distribution. In this section, as the scale is numerical five-point values, the researchers considered number 3 to compare with T statistics. The results can be seen in the table below.

As indicated in Table 10, the significance level in all variables, except obedient voice, are lower than 0.01, thus, it can be concluded that the mean of current status is different from claimed mean of all variables, except obedient voice.

On the other hand, due to the negative high and low values for the components of organizational culture, organizational silence and prosocial voice, it can be concluded that the observed mean for all the identified factors are not in a suitable status. For defensive voice, as the high and low values of the confidence limit are both positive, so the observed mean for defensive voice is in a suitable status.


Today, organizational culture consisted of four unique features including involvement, consistency, adaptability and mission, and when the system of higher education has high scores in each of them, higher level of efficiency and degree of compatibility and partnership can be achieved. All of these will be performed under the common understanding of organizational mission.

Healthy culture in universities results in reduction of silence behavior and production of voice which leads to job satisfaction and good working life quality.

According to Verhenz (2010), to overcome the behavior of being silent, a cultural change is necessary and organizational culture which is the most important component in all organizations must change from absolute obedience to perfection. Such a cultural change can be considered as a part of good governance and coordination.

Silence would impact negatively on organizational process and outcomes such as quality decrease in organizational decision, limiting organizational change processes, mitigating negative feedback and organizational disability to identify and modify mistakes and undesired reaction by employees, using participative management methods, recommendation system, employees' creativity which would all lead into organizational productivity increase and its success in growth and excellence path (Jahanbakhshian et al., 2015).

The purpose of this study was to explain the impact of organizational culture on organizational silence and voice of faculty members of Islamic Azad universities in Tehran. The results are as follows.

The mentioned dimensions of organizational culture (involvement, consistency, adaptability, and mission) had a significant and positive impact on organizational voice and they had negative impact on organizational silence.

Research findings demonstrated that the dimensions of organizational culture (involvement, consistency, adaptability, and mission) had a significant and negative impact on organizational silence.

Regarding involvement, it should be mentioned that silence behavior is decreased as a result of increasing the involvement of decision-making among faculty members of Islamic Azad universities in Tehran. Participation is an organizational mechanism, giving faculty members the right to make decisions and the matching amount of responsibility, so that they feel aware of contributing to organizational performance. With the participation in hand, their motivation increases which brings about both individual benefits and organizational effectiveness. If involvement of culture is considered as a main value in universities, faculty members will believe and accept it as an assignment. Such a condition leads to make a climate in which silence is not accepted at all and suggestions will be transferred to managers. By this involvement, every member has an opportunity to present themselves and express their information, knowledge, and innovations.

Having culture involvement, organizations' SWOT will be analyzed. Faculty members' participation in organizational affairs seems to be more intellectual and emotional and it cannot be considered only as a physical activity. Therefore, this issue causes them to be responsible for any organizational affairs. These results are in line with the results obtained from other researchers (Dana'eefard et al., 2011; Bozorgnia et al., 2014; Nafei, 2016). They also confirmed that silence behavior is decreased by increasing involvement among employees.

About consistency, according to the results of the present study, the more faculty members are consistent, the less silence behavior is performed. Universities are one of the knowledge-based and dynamic organizations in which consistent educational processes are emphasized. Such a consistency prevents members to have silence behavior. In this situation, faculty members criticize the weakness of university processes and express their ideas to strengthen them. Quick reaction towards changes is considered as another component of consistency; in fact, when faculty members reach to this important belief that their ideas can create more suitable changes in university, they will not have silence behavior anymore. As mentioned before, focusing on customer needs is another component of consistency in which customer satisfaction is deemed as a value. Since students are as customers of universities, faculty members should make decisions according to their needs. On the other hand, they should respond to their customers, their parents and society. These results are in line with the results of prior studies (Wang et al., 2014; Bozorgnia et al., 2014; Joseph & Dai, 2009).

Since improving adaptability in knowledge-based organizations like universities leads to decrease in silence and emphasize voice, faculty members should follow this component and guide the university to show adaptable reactions towards environmental changes. Having adaptability empowers faculty members to respond better to the internal and external environmental changes. Moreover, adaptability enables faculty members to react towards uncertain future. These results are in line with the former research findings (Chen et al., 2015; Afkhami Ardakani & Mehrabanfar, 2015; Wang et al., 2014; Joseph & Dai, 2009; Bozorgnia et al., 2014; Hassanpour & Eskandari, 2011; Dana'eefard et al., 2011).

Understanding the mission of universities allows faculty members to organize their behavior based on favorable future. On the other hand, missions of a university determine the orientation of organizational objectives. Therefore, if strategic objectives of universities are expressed clearly to the faculty members, they will criticize any deviation against objectives and their sense of commitment and responsibility lead to break the silence and express their opinions. These findings are in line with the results of prior studies (Bozorgnia et al., 2014; Davood Almousavi, 2013; Karaka, 2013), in which perception of missions allows employees to look at organizational objectives as their assignments.

Regarding the results of the study, it is suggested that universities' managers create a proper atmosphere for faculty members to express their ideas and opinions; managers should tend to listen to their subordinates. Hence, they should avoid creating conditions which can foster silence climate. There should be communicational opportunities between managers and employees as well as formal communication channels to transfer feedbacks bottom-up so that faculty members can express their opinions easily. Likewise, managers should react positively to news and information and should not deny or ignore feedbacks from their subordinates.

Also, it is suggested that the Iranian scholars investigate the organizational silence through qualitative studies as in the literature. Moreover, it is better to study this phenomenon and its creating factors with respect to the organizational culture dominant in the other organizations in Iran and introduce a localized format to the managers. As a manger, one has to try to break the organizational silence, expand the relations, hear the voice of the employees, use their creative ideas for improving the situation, and turn everyone into active and participating members so that a dynamic organization can be seen. The results of the study are in line with the former research findings (Lopez, 2016; Dedahanov et al., 2016a; 2016b).

According to the path coefficients, the following suggestions are presented for separate cultural components.

As Mission has the most impact on silence and voice, there should be communicational opportunities between managers and employees as well as formal communication channels to transfer feedbacks bottom-up so that faculty members can express their opinions easily. Likewise, managers should react positively to news and information and should not deny or ignore feedbacks from their subordinates. To this end, the organizational objectives should be revised and also communication skill training workshops should be held for managers and supervisors. According to the university's mission document, decision makers can publish a measure of how the overall university (or account) is benefiting from the faculty members' efforts.

After the mission, adaptability has more effects on organizational silence and voice as compared to other components. So, it is suggested that university managers concentrate more on the consistency in the faculty members' personal behaviors. This means they do not pay much attention to organizational structures or institutions, despite how important they may be in legitimizing, interpreting and framing individual decisions. Also, universities must measure the effectiveness of actions according to how well they satisfy faculty members' real needs by listening to their voices.

According to the path coefficient results, the third important cultural component which affects organizational silence and voice was consistency. In this regard, it is suggested that the university managers provide some circumstances in which participation will bring together mental and emotional involvement; thus, the faculty members feel no fear to express their ideas. A suggestion system also could be a communicational opportunity to encourage staff to provide suggestions and to cooperate for promoting the organization, which will finally reduce the organization silence.

Moreover, the last important cultural component is involvement. In this regard, it is suggested that university managers create a faculty members' suggestion program, they also should provide feedback on the suggestions. Also, by rewards, university managers can encourage faculty members to speak about the organizational problems. The key element about the involvement rewards is ensuring that faculty members use their power, information and knowledge for the good of the university.

As with any study, the current study trying to generalize its finding has some limitations that must be acknowledged. As for the present study, the data were collected only through administering some questionnaires. Providing data from different perspectives and by using different instruments like observation and interview may improve the validity of the findings. Also, the present study like many other studies is developed under certain delimitations. The effects of organizational culture on faculty members' silence and voice were measured in the present study and other variables were screened off from view. In addition, the study was performed at Islamic Azad universities; therefore, the results cannot be generalized to other organizations.


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Shima Sholekar (1*), Behzad Shoghi (2)

(1.) Faculty of Management, Tehran North branch, Islamic Azad Universities, Tehran, Iran

(2.) Faculty of Economics & Management, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad Universities, Tehran, Iran

(Received: March 13, 2016; Revised: October 10, 2016; Accepted: October 19, 2016)

(*) Corresponding Author, Email:

DOI: 10.22059/ijms.2017.127016.671744
Table 1. Research categories, population and sample size

Category                Population   Sample

North Tehran branch      932         164
South Tehran branch      152          27
Central Tehran branch    492          86
East Tehran branch       183          32
West Tehran branch        44           8
Total                   1803         317

Table 2. Variables and dimensions findings

Dimensions       Variables      No. of   Cronbach's   Composite
                                Items    alpha (a)    reliability

Organizational   Involvement    6        0.920        0.949
                 Consistency    6        0.916        0.947
                 Adaptability   6        0.913        0.945
                 Mission        6        0.890        0.932
Organizational   Obedient       5        0.959        0.973
                 Defensive      5        0.917        0.962
                 Prosocial      5        0.938        0.952
Organizational   Obedient       5        0.902        0.913
                 Defensive      5        0.953        0.969
                 Prosocial      5        0.908        0.924

Dimensions       Variables      Convergent

Organizational   Involvement    0.67
Organizational   Obedient       0.79
Organizational   Obedient       0.68

Table 3. The comparison between AVE square root of each structure and
correlation coefficients of structures (Divergent reliability)

Structures               Adaptability   Consistency   Involvement

Adaptability              0.71
Consistency               0.65           0.64
Involvement               0.66           0.61          0.62
Mission                   0.67           0.58          0.57
Organizational silence   -0.53          -0.51         -0.51
Organizational voice      0.62           0.60          0.53

Structures               Mission   Organizational   Organizational
                                   silence          voice

Mission                   0.57
Organizational silence   -0.50      0.89
Organizational voice      0.52     -0.71            0.83

Table 4. Summarizing the Demographic Features

                 Category                     Frequency   Percent

Gender           male                         195         61
                 female                       124         39
Age              Under 30 years                38         12
                 30-40 years                  121         38
                 41-50 years                  102         32
                 Above 50 years                58         18
Field of study   Engineering and technology   147         40
                 Humanities                   128         46
                 Others                        44         14

Table 5. The Standardized solutions and T-values of culture

          Path                   Est.   T-value   Status

Culture   ---->   Involvement    0.39   2.47      Accepted
Culture   ---->   Consistency    0.41   3.55      Accepted
Culture   ---->   Adaptability   0.50   3.89      Accepted
Culture   ---->   Mission        0.32   2.41      Accepted

Table 6. The standardized solutions and T-values of organizational

Path                                         Est.   T-value   Status

Organizational Silence   ---->   Obedient    0.35   -         Accepted
Organizational Silence   ---->   Defensive   0.23   3.23      Accepted
Organizational Silence   ---->   Prosocial   0.52   3.60      Accepted

Table 7. The standardized solutions and T-values of organizational voice

                       Path                Est.   T-value   Status

Organizational Voice   ---->   Obedient    0.88   -         Accepted
Organizational Voice   ---->   Defensive   0.56   4.37      Accepted
Organizational Voice   ---->   Prosocial   0.45   4.12      Accepted

Table 8. The standardized solutions and T-values of the model

          Path                           Est.    T-value   Status

Culture   ----> Organizational silence   -1.71   -3.89     Accepted
Culture   ----> Organizational voice       .58    2.61     Accepted

Table 9. Model fitness indicators

Fitness           Acceptable                Observed   The evaluation of
indicator         range                     value      fitness indicator

[chi square]/df   [less than or equal to]   1.30       Suitable
IFI               0.9>                      0.90       Suitable
RFI               0.9>                      0.93       Suitable
RMSEA             0.08<                     0.049      Suitable
CFI               0.9>                      0.98       Suitable
NFI               0.9>                      0.92       Suitable

Table 10. One-sample T-test to measure the current status

                                      Test value-3
Variable            T value   Freedom   Level of       Mean
                              value     significance   differences

Involvement         -15.135   316       0.000          -0.68730
Consistency          -3.635   316       0.000          -0.16667
Adaptability        -18.913   316       0.000          -0.70317
Mission              -5.447   316       0.000          -0.26296
Obedient silence     -3.129   316       0.002          -0.20952
defensive silence    -5.063   316       0.000          -0.32952
Prosocial silence    -6.489   316       0.000          -0.32667
Obedient voice       -0.278   316       0.782          -0.01333
Defensive voice       2.643   316       0.009           0.13524
Prosocial voice      -4.934   316       0.000          -0.28381

                    Test value-3
Variable                 95%
                    Low       High
                    value     value

Involvement         -0.7768   -0.5978
Consistency         -0.2571   -0.0763
Adaptability        -0.7765   -0.6299
Mission             -0/3581   -0.1678
Obedient silence    -0.3415   -0.0775
defensive silence   -0.4578   -0.2012
Prosocial silence   -0.4259   -0.2274
Obedient voice      -0.1080    0.0813
Defensive voice      0.0344    0.2361
Prosocial voice     -0.3972   -0.1704
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Author:Sholekar, Shima; Shoghi, Behzad
Publication:Iranian Journal of Management Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jan 1, 2017
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