Employee voice is thought to result from a cognitive calculus of costs and benefits. However, it is not known whether and when employees speak up in contexts where the costs and benefits of voice are not readily assessed. The purpose of this research is to answer this question by exploring the impact of employees’ perceived organizational politics (POP)—a social context in which complicated interpersonal relationships make it difficult to predict the outcomes of voice—on promotive and prohibitive voice. Results from an experimental scenario study and a time-lagged field study revealed that POP is negatively related to the two types of voice through psychological uncertainty, even after controlling for psychological safety and felt obligation to voice. Furthermore, job autonomy weakened the negative influence of psychological uncertainty on promotive voice, whereas job security weakened the negative influence of psychological uncertainty on prohibitive voice. Not only do the findings demonstrate psychological uncertainty as a viable mechanism that links unpredictable social contexts such as POP to employee voice, but they also offer insight into the remedies that might mitigate its negative impact. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
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