The influence of national culture on employee voice in small and medium enterprises: a cross-cultural perspective

Aidan McKearney, Rea Prouska, Monrudee Tungtakanpoung, John Opute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to examine how employee voice in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is shaped by national culture. Specifically, the paper explores the relationship between national culture and organisational norms and signals. Furthermore, it explores the impact of such norms on employee voice behaviours. The paper chooses to address these issues in the SME context, in three countries with divergent cultural dimensions.

The authors use Kwon and Farndale’s (2020) typology as our “a priori” framework to explore the influence of national cultural values and cultural tightness on SME organisation norms, signals and employee voice behaviours. Our study uses qualitative data gathered through in-depth interviews with SME employees in England, Nigeria and Thailand.

The results from our interviews are presented thematically. The data illustrates how the cultural dimensions identified by Kwon and Farndale (2020) can have an influence on organisational voice norms. The dimensions are power distance, uncertainty avoidance, in-group collectivism, performance orientation, assertiveness and cultural tightness.

Historically, the impact of national culture as a macro factor on voice has been largely ignored by academic research. Studies in non-western contexts are especially rare. This paper derives its originality by offering unique insights into the culture–voice relationship from both western and non-western perspectives. This provides an international, cross-cultural, comparative dimension to our study. This research includes findings from under-researched settings in Nigeria and Thailand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-494
Number of pages17
JournalEmployee Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes

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