Whistleblowing: When do employees act to ‘blow the whistle’?
The term ‘whistleblowing’ dates back many years, originating from the way the police officers used to blow their whistles, while witnessing a law being violated in order to signal and attract attention. Whistleblowing has always been important for every organization and individual, as every company, either private or public could be put in jeopardy if things might not turn out favorably. In fact, it has evolved so much over the past years that from a derogatory term it is now utilized as a tool to aid employees on how they can report misconduct while highlighting existing choices. It can be a very powerful tool in strengthening corporate governance, ethics, and improving internal organizational culture through setting up formal whistleblowing procedures, but it can also prove a powerful tool in reducing corruption.
This study reflect on whether gender differences play a paramount role in the decision-making process within an organization. These issues are considered in terms of employees making the right choice to act against unethical practices. The authors empirically investigate the various gender attitudes in the firms while providing an overview of why men and women choose to blow the whistle. This is accomplished by concentrating on two questions: Are gender differences evident in the course of deciding if they should whistleblow? Are women more likely to whistleblow due to their stereotypical image as emotional and caring? We designed a questionnaire survey in such a way that all participants were fully informed about the scope of the research and that questionnaires would remain anonymous and the information provided would only be used for the purpose of this research. The questionnaire was distributed to medium-large organizations, which were more likely to be aware of the different whistleblowing practices. The findings are based on a sample group of 153 participants.
The findings of this study demonstrate that gender differences are only evident in the course of performing this action. Thus, even though both genders support that whistleblowing is something that everybody should do when witnessing unethical behavior, women are more likely to act upon it. Following this thread of thought, this research has seized on the opportunity to further analyze the reasons as to under what circumstances employees would whistle-blow and why. However, for the purpose of identifying gender differences in whistleblowing, using the data gathered it has been established that in cases that involve health issues, one is more likely to whistleblow whereas in cases concerning fraud, or illegal activities, one is less likely to do so. It is also evident that individuals have a stronger inclination to whistleblow when others are also aware of the situation. This study has managerial implications. Indeed, managers can perceive how genders react with whistleblowing, which is of high importance in the corporate world while identifying that women are more likely to have the willpower to report an incident; while firms and organizations can direct their focus to how to encourage male employees to whistleblow.
Tahir M. Nisar, Guru Prabhakar, Mariateresa Torchia
“Whistleblowing: When do employees act to ‘blow the whistle’?”
Organizational Dynamics, online March 2018, CNRS rank 2, FNEGE rank 2.