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Listening to the Silence: How to Break Through Climates of Injustice _______________________________________ Richard W. Stackman, Ph.D. Associate Professor.

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Presentation on theme: "Listening to the Silence: How to Break Through Climates of Injustice _______________________________________ Richard W. Stackman, Ph.D. Associate Professor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Listening to the Silence: How to Break Through Climates of Injustice _______________________________________ Richard W. Stackman, Ph.D. Associate Professor and Director School of Business and Professional Studies _______________________________________ Fall Leadership Institute Be Aware. Be Heard. Be Vocal. October 3, 2009

2 Initial Thoughts ______________________________ The University of San Francisco will be internationally recognized as a premier Jesuit Catholic, urban University with a global perspective that educates leaders who will fashion a more humane and just world. -- USF Vision Statement … men and women who at particular moments in time followed a deeply felt obligation to disturb the unjust peace and thereby advance the cause of justice. -- Vernon Jordan (Newsweek, November 3, 2008)

3 Injustice ______________________________ Cultures of Injustice are characterized by intense control, strong suppression of conflict, and emphasis on competitive individualism. Potential Reactions: –Exit. Voice. Loyalty.

4 Organizational Justice ______________________________ Distributive: Perceived fairness of the outcomes one receives from a social exchange or interaction. Procedural: The fairness of the process used to arrive at decisions. Voice is seen as central to creating high levels of procedural justice. Procedures need to be (1) accurate, (2) consistent, (3) ethical, (4) correctable, (5) protected from bias, and (6) representative.

5 Organizational Justice [cont.] ______________________________ Interactional: Comprised of interpersonal and informational justice. Interpersonal focuses on the sensitivity, politeness, and respect people are shown by authority figures throughout a given process. Informational focuses on the explanation of information provided by decision makers as to why certain procedures were used.

6 Silence ______________________________ Involves the withholding of any form of genuine expression regarding ones circumstances to persons who are perceived to be capable of effecting change or redress. Climates of Silence are characterized by two shared beliefs: (1) speaking up about problems is not worth the effort and (2) voicing ones opinions and concerns is dangerous.

7 Silence [cont.] ______________________________ Silence is an act of communication itself, involving a range of cognitions, emotions, and/or intentions. Silence does not equate to loyalty, nor to the endorsement of the status quo. Silence not only may signify objection and dissent, but it may also result from a lack of information, an absence of voice opportunities, and a belief that voicing would be futile or dangerous.

8 Quiescence ______________________________ Represents deliberate omission. It is an uncomfortable, conscious state that can be altered on ones own or with others assistance or provocation. Such people are ready to break their silence to change the circumstances that fostered or produced the silence.

9 Acquiescence ______________________________ Implies a deeply-felt acceptance of circumstances, a taking-for-granted of the situation and limited awareness that alternatives exist. In unjust circumstances, acquiescence amounts to ignoring existing alternatives and lacking a desire to seek any. Acquiescence requires more assistance or provocation to be broken than does quiescence.

10 Voice or Breaking the Silence ______________________________ Any attempt at all to change rather than escape from an objectionable state of affairs. Should something be said? Can something be said?

11 Issue Selling ______________________________ The process by which individuals attempt to influence others attention to and understanding of events, developments, and trends. It shapes the investment of time and attention and thereby shapes, in part, the actions and changes that ensue. People outside of the power structure are capable of being potent initiators of change.

12 Issue Selling [cont.] ______________________________ Need to focus on three types of moves – process, packaging, and involving – to sell issues. Process reflects the formality (with respect to written or oral communication), preparation, and timing (persistence, opportunism, and involvement of others). Packaging involves the presentation of an issue and its bundling with other issues or goals. Involving refers to key organizational members who can increase the visibility and help grow a powerful coalition.

13 Who Voices? ______________________________ It often takes quite a long time for individuals or groups to feel safe enough to voice. It is just not those who have experienced the injustice who voice. People who see problems from their unique position within the power structure are more likely to lead movements. Such movements usually arise from groups thought to be content, and the leaders of these movements, more often than not, come from outside or from the margins of these groups.

14 Voicing Can Be Lonely ______________________________ Three women were named Time magazines 2002 persons of the year for their roles as whistleblowers. The women worked for Enron, the FBI, and WorldCom. When interviewed for the story, all three said they had not been thanked within their respective organizations for stepping forward and speaking up.

15 There May Be a Price to Voicing ______________________________ [They were] heroes at the scene, anointed by circumstances. They were people who did right just by doing their jobs rightly – which means ferociously, with eyes open and with the bravery the rest of us only hope we have and may never know if we do. Their lives may not have been at stake, but [they] put pretty much everything else on the line. Their jobs, their health, their privacy, their sanity – they risked all of them to bring us badly needed word of trouble inside crucial institutions.

16 Choosing When to Voice ______________________________ While there may never be an ideal time, movements begin not when conditions are at their worst, but only after conditions have begun to improve. It is at this time we see a new vision of what may be.

17 Easier Said Than Done? ______________________________ How do you currently, and how will you in the future, listen to the silence? What role can you play in creating and/or protecting voice systems, and thus promote justice?

18 Sources ______________________________ J.E. Dutton, S.J. Ashford, R.M. ONeill, & K.A. Lawrence. 2000. Moves that matter: Issue selling and organizational change. Academy of Management Journal, 44: 716-736. A.O. Hirschman. 1970. Exit, voice, and loyalty. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. V.E. Jordan, J.R. November 3, 2008. The Jordan Gospel. Newsweek. R. Lacayo & A. Ripley. December 22, 2002. Persons of the year 2002: Cynthia Cooper, Coleen Rowley and Sherron Watkins. Time. R.M. Farson. 1997. Management of the absurd. New York: Free Press. J.M. Nowakowski & D.E. Conlon. 2006. Organizational justice: Looking back, looking forward. International Journal of Conflict Management. 16: 4- 29. C.C. Pinder & K.P. Harlos. 2001. Employee silence: Quiescence and acquiescence as responses to perceived injustice. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 20: 331-369.

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