Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2018.0961

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alex Ning Li, Neeley School of Business, Texas Christian University ().

We develop and test theory regarding how voice emerges and develops in new supervisor–employee dyads. We propose that employees higher in proactive personality speak up more in early stages of interactions in their dyads. The subsequent path that their voice takes—that is, increasing in a virtuous positive trajectory or decreasing in a vicious negative trajectory—is determined by whether their proactive personality matches their supervisors’. For instance, when paired with supervisors who are not similarly proactive, they confront low congruence on change-related goals in the working relationship; hence, rather than building off their initial voice and developing a positive voice trajectory, frustration might lead their voice to decay in a negative trajectory. This theory is supported in a sample of 403 newly formed dyads. Employees higher in proactive personality were more likely to speak up to their supervisors immediately after beginning to work together. Supervisor–employee congruence in proactive personality predicted how voice changed in the dyads in the ensuing six months. Dyadic (in)congruence in proactive personality drove the linear (negative) positive trend in voice and enabled voice growth to pick up momentum and nonlinearly (decelerate) accelerate over time. We discuss our findings’ implications for theory and practice.

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