Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Gabriel Picone, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Walter Nord, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrei Barbos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul Spector, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Josh Wilde, Ph.D.


continual improvement, employee voice, malaria, manager humility, mosquito bed nets, Nigeria


In highly competitive industries where firms aren’t protected by barriers to entry and consumers’ preferences are constantly changing, the willingness and ability to adapt and continually improve operations may be critical for continued success. However, the internal exchanges between employees and managers that may be an integral part of the development and implementation of new ideas are often not modeled or included in our standard economic theories. In this research I investigate whether a higher level of employee voice (or employee input) predicts higher levels of continual improvement, and whether this continual improvement predicts higher levels of firm performance. Additionally, I will study whether humble managers keep this process going by fostering an environment where employees feel free to provide input. If this chain of events can help us better understand differences in firm performance then perhaps we can enhance our models by measuring and including these internal firm characteristics instead of simply leaving them inside the error term and calling them “unobservable.” Results across three separate studies show that humble managers are more likely to be perceived as making continual improvements and higher levels of perceived continual improvement leads to both greater levels of employee voice and fewer perceived job obstacles. A pilot study involving two separate quick-food restaurant chains also lends support for the above ideas, but uses sales in dollars as the measure for performance. Additionally, holding the employee constant in a fixed-effects analysis shows that the same employee is more likely to voice ideas to a manager he or she reports as continually improving the way things are done.