Employees can help to improve organizational performance by sharing ideas, suggestions, or concerns about practices, but sometimes they keep silent because of the experience of negative affect. Drawing and expanding on this stream of research, this article builds a theoretical rationale based on core affect and cognitive appraisal theories to describe how differences in affect activation and boundary conditions associated with cognitive rumination and cognitive problem-solving demands can explain employee silence. Results of a diary study conducted with professionals from diverse organizations indicated that within-person low-activated negative core affect increased employee silence when, as an invariant factor, cognitive rumination was high. Furthermore, within-person high-activated negative core affect decreased employee silence when, as an invariant factor, cognitive problem-solving demand was high. Thus, organizations should manage conditions to reduce experiences of low-activated negative core affect because these feelings increase silence in individuals high in rumination. In turn, effective management of experiences of high-activated negative core affect can reduce silence for individuals working under high problem-solving demand situations.
- Cognitive appraisal
- Cognitive problem-solving demands
- Core affect
- Employee silence