Significant progress has been made in integrating novel materials into silicon photonic structures in order to extend the functionality of photonic circuits. One of these promising optical materials is BaTiO3 or barium titanate (BTO) that exhibits a very large Pockels coefficient as required for high-speed light modulators. However, all previous demonstrations show a noticable reduction of the Pockels effect in BTO thin films deposited on silicon substrates compared to BTO bulk crystals. Here, we report on the strong dependence of the Pockels effect in BTO thin films on their microstructure, and provide guidelines on how to engineer thin films with strong electro-optic response. We employ several deposition methods such as molecular beam epitaxy and chemical vapor deposition to realize BTO thin films with different morphology and crystalline structure. While a linear electro-optic response is present even in porous, polycrystalline BTO thin films with an effective Pockels coefficient r eff = 6 pm V-1, it is maximized for dense, tetragonal, epitaxial BTO films (r eff = 140 pm V-1). By identifying the key structural predictors of electro-optic response in BTO/Si, we provide a roadmap to fully exploit the linear electro-optic effect in novel hybrid oxide/semiconductor nanophotonic devices.