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Does Type of Wrongdoing Affect the Whistle-Blowing Process?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 January 2015


We analyzed data from a survey of employees of a large military base in order to assess possible differences in the whistle-blowing process due to type of wrongdoing observed. Employees who observed perceived wrongdoing involving mismanagement, sexual harassment, or unspecified legal violations were significantly more likely to report it than were employees who observed stealing, waste, safety problems, or discrimination. Further, type of wrongdoing was significantly related to reasons given by employees who observed wrongdoing but did not report it, across all forms of wrongdoing. However, the primary reason that observers did not report it was that they thought nothing could be done to rectify the situation. Finally, type of wrongdoing was significantly related to the cost of the wrongdoing, the quality of the evidence about the wrongdoing, and the comprehensiveness of retaliation against the whistle-blower. These findings suggest that type of wrongdoing makes a difference in the whistle-blowing process, and it should be examined in future research.

Copyright © Society for Business Ethics 2004

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