Credibility: Qualifier of Subordinate Participation

Topic: Supervisor Credibility and Employee Participation

Author(s), Title and Publication

Falcione, R. L. (1974). Credibility: Qualifier of Subordinate Participation. Journal of Business Communication, 11(3), 43-54.


This study examined subordinate participation in decision-making processes, as well as its relationship to their perceptions of supervisor credibility and satisfaction with supervisors. In a survey of 145 employees in a large industrial organization in Akron, Ohio, the frequency of employees’ participation in decision-making was significantly related to their satisfaction with their supervisor. However, more than 75% of the respondents said their opinions were seldom adopted to modify decisions already made.

In addition, employees’ perceived supervisor credibility was positively related to their satisfaction with supervisors, and had an effect on their decision-making participation behavior. Perceived supervisor credibility was measured with three categories of scales, safety (e.g., just, objective, unselfish, fair, and ethical), qualification (e.g., experienced, skilled, informed, intelligent, and qualified), and dynamism (e.g., bold, active, aggressive, emphatic, and forceful). “Safety” and “qualification” appeared to be stronger factors than “dynamism”. “Safety” explained 56% of the variance, and “qualification” explained 2% of the variance.

Implications for Practice

Practitioners can encourage managers and supervisors to involve employees in decision-making process, and to take their opinions seriously by encouraging responses, suggestions, and disagreements to decisions already made. Supervisors can improve the quality of employee participation by serving as credible sources of information. Two-way communication and an open communication system help build supervisor credibility and facilitate employee participation.

Location of Article

The article is available online at:

Posted in [Research Library], Employee / Organizational Communication, Supervisory Communications and tagged , , , , .

One Comment

  1. I’ve recently been working on a study on supervisor credibility, which is defined to include dimensions of supervisor trustworthiness and supervisor expertise. It’s interesting to read this article which was published several decades ago. The study reported here revealed the positive effects of supervisor credibility on employee satisfaction with supervisors and participation in decision-making, which I agree. But I think the influence of supervisor credibility should go beyond dyadic level and should be examined at the organizational level as well. Since leaders represent the organization to communicate with employees and are perceived as a more trustworthy source of information, therefore, leader/supervisor credibility could also affect employees’ attitude toward the organization as a whole (e.g., organizational credibility, trust, satisfaction, engagement, etc.). How to build supervisor credibility is another interesting question to answer. This may be tied to leadership style and behavior, and of course, leader communication strategies and skills.

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