Public defence in Mechanical Engineering, M.Sc. Floris van der Marel

Public defense from the Aalto University School of Mechanical Engineering
Amplifying Unheard Voices
Amplifying Unheard Voices

Amplifying Unheard Voices: Towards Inclusive Innovation and Development

An increasingly diverse engineering workforce supports innovation and creativity. However, whether diversity translates to improved organisational performance depends on whether employees are able to voice issues and ideas. Voice is conceptualised as employees’ ability to speak up and be heard. While much research has been done by industrial relations, human resource management, and organisational behaviour scholars, their different ontological assumptions have made it difficult to integrate the learnings. As such, much is still unknown about how socio-organisational factors influence employee voice, particularly in a more diverse workforce. 

Building on existing literature, I argue that motivation at work and assessment of voice opportunities are key factors in employees’ resolution to voice or not. Both work motivation and voice opportunity assessment are influenced by collaborative sensemaking and former voicing attempts. In this dissertation, I dive deeper into the nuance and intricacies that influence diverse employees’ experiences in creative contexts. The research draws from semi-structured interviews with 130 designers, engineers, and hospital employees. In addition, one study applies an action research approach, teaching design to the hospital employees to shed light on changed perceptions and frames as a result of a participatory design intervention. Each study highlights the highly social context of creativity and innovation, influenced by continuous interactions with people around them. 

Indeed, my results suggest that both motivation and voice opportunity assessment were influenced by stubborn beliefs present in collaborative sensemaking, disproportionately impacting historically unheard voices. Spirals of silence might hinder attempts to amplify unheard voices due to ingrained silence as a result of previous failed attempts by employees similar to them. In conclusion, I argue that more attention should be paid to the role of collaborative sensemaking in employee voice in order to leverage diverse voices toward inclusive innovation and development.

Doctoral Student: Floris van der Marel

Opponent: Prof. Giulia Calabretta, TU Delft, Netherlands

Custos: Prof. Tua Björklund, Aalto University School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering

The public defense will be organized as a hybrid event at Design Factory Stage, Puumiehenkuja 5 and online.

The thesis is publicly displayed 10 days prior to the defense in the publication archive Aaltodoc of Aalto University. 

Contact information of doctoral student:

Name Floris van der Marel
Email  [email protected]

Doctoral theses in the School of Engineering: 

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