Organizational Leadership Awareness of the Hierarchical Mum Effect: A Modified Delphi Study

Organizational Leadership Awareness of the Hierarchical Mum Effect: A Modified Delphi Study

Author: 
Jeremy Beakley
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
The hierarchical mum effect is a phenomenon found in the workplace which represents a subordinate’s unwillingness to communicate bad news to a supervisor out of fear of retribution, fear of association with the message itself, or fear of harming the subordinate-supervisor relationship. Prior to this study, sparse literature existed which identified the subordinate and supervisor factors which foster a mum environment. Moreover, even less literature existed which explored organizational leadership’s awareness of the hierarchical mum effect. The purpose of this study was to identify organizational leadership awareness of the hierarchical mum effect, the contributing leadership qualities that foster a mum environment, and the impact of the phenomenon on team performance. This modified Delphi study used two rounds of data collection to elicit the opinions of a 24 member panel consisting of human resources and management professionals to identify the most likely factors of the mum effect and organizational leadership’s awareness of those factors. Participant first round, qualitative responses, were further explored in the second round via a 1-5 point Likert scale to identify the most important factors which foster a mum environment and to identify the disparity of uppermanagement’s awareness of those factors. Very high disparities (+) were identified as uppermanagement awareness of factors greater than one point from the mean awareness of factors. The greatest disparities between factors fostering a mum environment and upper-management awareness are found among subordinate fear of consequences, supervisor’s ego being nonconducive to feedback, the lack of subordinate-supervisor trust, and supervisors who are nonresponsive to employee communication.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this dissertation to my beautiful children Emily and Ries. I hope I have begun providing you with the guidance to grow up happy, healthy, and successful as much as the two of you have, so very much, shaped and defined who I am. This dissertation is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work and commitment to substantial goals. Whatever your goals in life, I know both of you will succeed. Accomplishing my goals have been, and always will be, for you.
Acknowledgements: 
My special appreciation and gratitude go to my dissertation chair, Dr. Elmer Hall. His tireless and countless hours to my success made this possible; from participating in early doctoral study coursework under Dr. Hall, through his guidance in the dissertation process, and even a short unanticipated encounter with the New Jersey State Police (our joke), Dr. Hall was extremely accommodating and encouraging in bringing this dream to fruition. My spectacular dissertation committee, Dr. Mark Kass and Dr. Sheila Schmitz, both took a chance in dedicating their time to making this an excellent study, and of whom I am also overwhelmingly grateful. I thank the University of Phoenix Academic Affairs for selecting me into membership of the Lambda Sigma Chapter of the International Honor Society in Business Administration, Delta Mu Delta (DMD). Many faculty members at the University of Phoenix have also played unique and important roles in my academic success. I also wish to acknowledge my family for their encouragement and interest in my continued academic success. My father Ed, step-mother Lin, brother Paul, and my beautiful partner in life Kirsten all showed me so much praise in my efforts, without which I might never have had the energy to see this journey to the finish.