A spiral of voice? When coworkers speak up on internal social media

Vibeke Thøis Madsen, Winni Johansen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftsartikelForskningpeer review


Purpose: This paper explores the discursive tactics that coworkers use when they speak up on internal social media (ISM) to gain support for their cause, and how this can develop into a ‘spiral of voice” when organizational members interact with each other on internal social media. Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on screenshots of four months of coworker communication on ISM in a Danish Bank, and semi-structured interviews with 24 coworkers. Findings: Coworkers succeed in speaking up and gaining support on ISM by using eight different discursive tactics. These tactics helped move issues from an operational to a strategic level to make the issue relevant for management and to gain support from other coworkers. The visibility and persistence of communication on ISM forced managers to react. Research limitations/implications: Further research has to investigate if similar tactics and reactions occur in organizations with a less open communication culture making it less safe for coworkers to speak up.Practical implications: Organizations have to be aware of the dynamics of the ‘spiral of voice’ and the visibility and persistence of communication on ISM forcing managers to handle dissent publicly.Originality/value: The study is the first to explore what happens when coworkers speak up on ISM and to propose the concept of a ‘spiral of voice’, extending the theory of “the spiral of silence” (Noelle-Neumann, 1974).
TidsskriftJournal of Communication Management
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)331-347
Antal sider17
StatusUdgivet - 14 nov. 2019
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Discursive tactics
  • Dissent
  • Internal social media
  • Internal social media,
  • discursive tactic
  • dissent
  • employee communication
  • employee voice
  • spiral of voice