Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 117, Issue 1, pp 153–172

The Joint Effects of Machiavellianism and Ethical Environment on Whistle-Blowing


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1517-x

Cite this article as:
Dalton, D. & Radtke, R.R. J Bus Ethics (2013) 117: 153. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1517-x


Given the importance of the Machiavellianism construct on informing a wide range of ethics research, we focus on gaining a better understanding of Machiavellianism within the whistle-blower context. In this regard, we examine the effect of Machiavellianism on whistle-blowing, focusing on the underlying mechanisms through which Machiavellianism affects whistle-blowing. Further, because individuals who are higher in Machiavellianism (high Machs) are expected to be less likely to report wrongdoing, we examine the ability of an organization’s ethical environment to increase whistle-blowing intentions of high Machs. Results from a sample of 116 MBA students support our premise that Machiavellianism is negatively related to whistle-blowing. Further, we find that Machiavellianism has an indirect effect on whistle-blowing through perceived benefits and perceived responsibility. Finally, we find that a strong ethical environment, relative to a weak ethical environment, increases whistle-blowing intentions incrementally more for individuals who are higher in Machiavellianism. Taken together, these findings extend our understanding of how Machiavellianism and an organization’s ethical environment impact whistle-blowing.


Ethical environmentMachiavellianismEthical dispositionWhistle-blowing

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Accountancy and FinanceClemson UniversityClemsonUSA