Applying a Lens of Temporality to Better Understand Voice About Unethical Behaviour

Sarah Brooks*, John Richmond, John Blenkinsopp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The relationship between time and voice about unethical behaviour has been highlighted as a key area for exploration within the voice and silence field (Morrison Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior 10:79–107, 2023). Previous studies have made only modest progress in this area, so we present a temporal lens which can act as a guide for others wishing to better understand the role of time and voice. Applying the concept of theory adaptation (Jaakkola AMS Review 10:18–26, 2020), a method which attempts to build on a given field through the application of a new theoretical lens, we begin by reviewing what is known in relation to voice about unethical behaviour specifically. Then we introduce two temporal frameworks, one suggested by Ancona, Okhuysen, and Perlow (Ancona et al. The Academy of Management Review 26:645–663, 2001a; Ancona et al. The Academy of Management Review 26:512–529, 2001b) as a useful way of analysing time in organisations, and a second one by Bansal, Anna, and Wood, (Bansal et al. Academy of Management Review 43:217–241, 2018) focusing on the way organisations include voice into their temporal rhythm. We then draw conclusions about the role of time in relation to voice about unethical behaviour and identify three insights; a) it takes time for voices to generate evidence for unethical behaviour, b) perceptions of unethical behaviour change over time, and c) it is most difficult to voice about unethical behaviour at the time it is most needed. Our recommendations for future avenues of research based on these insights recommend new research designs better suited to explore the relationship between voice and time and a focus on how the formality of voice mechanisms shapes the timing of voice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-692
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Early online date9 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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