Employee voice and silence in auditing firms

Sean Donovan, Michelle O'Sullivan, Elaine Doyle, John Garvey
2016 Employee Relations  
Purpose: This paper presents an exploratory study of 'speaking up' in international auditing firms. We examine two key questions: (i) what is the propensity of employees in training to speak up on workplace problems and (ii) how would management react to employees in training speaking up on workplace problems? Design: We compare and contrast the views of employees on training contracts with management including partners. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 8 managers/partners and
more » ... employees working in 6 large auditing firms in Ireland. Findings: We find that employees on training contracts have a high propensity to remain silent on workplace problems. Quiescent and acquiescent forms of silence were evident. Management expressed willingness to act on employee voice on workplace problems concerning business improvements and employee performance but were very resistant to voice in regard to a change in working conditions or a managers' performance. Employees and management couched employee voice in terms of technical knowledge exchange rather than being associated with employee dissatisfaction or having a say in decision making. Originality: We highlight how new professional employees are socialised into understanding that employee voice is not a democratic right and the paper provides insight on the important role of partners as owner/managers in perpetuating employee silence. Previous research on owner/managers has tended to focus on small businesses while the auditing firms in this study have large numbers of employees.
doi:10.1108/er-05-2015-0078 fatcat:6ufw5vxx5zgfrdxiu6uhwliv5a