Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 513–530 | Cite as

From Inaction to External Whistleblowing: The Influence of the Ethical Culture of Organizations on Employee Responses to Observed Wrongdoing

Article

Abstract

Putting measures in place to prevent wrongdoing in organizations is important, but detecting and correcting wrongdoing are also vital. Employees who detect wrongdoing should, therefore, be encouraged to respond in a manner that supports corrective action. This article examines the influence of the ethical culture of organizations on employee responses to observed wrongdoing. Different dimensions of ethical culture are related to different types of intended responses. The findings show that several dimensions of ethical culture were negatively related to intended inaction and external whistleblowing and positively related to intended confrontation, reporting to management, and calling an ethics hotline.

Key words

wrongdoing ethical culture reporting ethics hotline whistleblowing 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alford, C. F. (2007). Whistle-blowers narratives: the experience of choiceless choice. Social Research, 74, 223-48.Google Scholar
  2. Ayers, S., and Kaplan, S. E. (2005). Wrongdoing by consultants: An examination of employees’ reporting intentions. Journal of Business Ethics, 57, 121-37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bamberger, K. A. (2006). Regulation as delegation: Private firms, decision-making, and accountability in the administrative state. Duke Law Journal, 56, 377-466.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, B. (2004). Organizational culture: A framework and strategies for facilitating employee whistleblowing. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 16, 1-11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blackburn, M. S.: 1988, ‘Employee Dissent: The Choice of Voice Versus Silence’, Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.Google Scholar
  6. Bowie, N. (1982). Business ethics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, M. E., Treviño, L. K., and Harrison, D. A. (2005). Ethical leadership: A social learning perspective for construct development and testing. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 97, 117-34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Callahan, E. S., and Dworkin, T. M. (1994). Who blows the whistle to the media, and why: Organizational characteristics of media whistleblowers. American Business Law Journal, 32, 151-84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Callahan, E. S., Dworkin, T. M., Fort, T. L., and Schipani, C. A. (2002). Integrating trends in whistleblowing and corporate governance: promoting organizational effectiveness, societal responsibility, and employee empowerment. American Business Law Journal, 40, 177-215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chiu, R. K. (2003). Ethical judgment and whistleblowing intention: Examination the moderating role of locus of control. Journal of Business Ethics, 43, 65-74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chung, J., G. S. Monroe and L. Thorne: 2004, ‘An Examination of Factors Affecting External and Internal Whistleblowing by Auditors’, Working Paper, York University, Toronto.Google Scholar
  12. DeGeorge, R. T. (1986). Business ethics. New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  13. Den Nieuwenboer, N. A.: 2008, ‘Seeing the Shadow of the Self: Studies on Organizational Deviance’, PhD-Thesis, ERIM, Rotterdam.Google Scholar
  14. Dozier, J. B., and Miceli, M. P. (1985). Potential predictors of whistle-blowing: A prosocial behavior perspective. Academy of Management Review, 10, 823-36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dworkin, T. M., and Baucus M. S. (1998). Internal vs external whistleblowers: A comparison of whistleblowing processes. Journal of Business Ethics, 17, 1281-98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dyck, A., A. Morse and L. Zingales: 2008, ‘Who Blows the Whistle on Corporate Fraud?’, Chicago Booth, Working Paper 08-22.Google Scholar
  17. Elliston, F. A. (1982). Anonymity and whistleblowing. Journal of Business Ethics, 1, 167-77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Enz, C. (1988). The role of value congruity in intraorganizational power. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 504-29.Google Scholar
  19. Ferrell, O. C., Thorne LeClair, D., and Ferrell, L. (1998). ‘The Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations: A framework for ethical compliance. Journal of Business Ethic, 17, 353-63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Graham, J. W. (1993). Blowing the whistle. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38, 683-85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Greenberger, D.B., Miceli, M. P., and Cohen, D. J. (1987). Oppositionists and group norms: the reciprocal influence of whistle-blowers and co-workers. Journal of Business Ethics, 6: 527-542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hassink, H., de Vries, M., and Bollen, L. (2007). A content analysis of whistleblowing policies of leading European companies. Journal of Business Ethics, 75, 25-44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Heard, E. and W. Miller: 2006, ‘Creating an Open and Non-Retaliatory Workplace’, International Business Ethics Review Summer, 1–7.Google Scholar
  24. Hirschman, A. O. (1970). Exit, voice, and loyalty. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Jubb, P.B. (1999). Whistleblowing: A restrictive definition and interpretation. Journal of Business Ethics, 21, 77-94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kaptein, M. (1998). Ethics management: Auditing and developing the ethical content of organizations. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Kaptein, M. (2002). Guidelines for the development of an ethics safety net. Journal of Business Ethics, 41, 217-234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kaptein, M. (2008a). ‘Development of a measure of unethical behavior in the workplace: A stakeholder perspective. Journal of Management, 34, 978-1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kaptein, M. (2008b). Developing and testing a measure for the ethical culture of organizations: The corporate ethical virtues model. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29, 923-47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kaptein, M.: 2010, ‘Understanding Unethical Behavior by Unraveling Ethical Culture’, Working Paper.Google Scholar
  31. Kaptein, M., and Avelino, S. (2005). Measuring corporate integrity: A survey-based approach. Corporate Governance, 5, 45-54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kaptein, M., and J. Dalen, van (2000). The empirical assessment of corporate ethics: A case study. Journal of Business Ethics, 24, 95-114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Karpoff, J. M., Lee, D. S., and Martin, G. S. (2008). The cost to firms of cooking the books, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, 43, 581-611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Keenan, J. P. (1990). Upper-level managers and whistleblowing: Determinants of perceptions of company encouragement and information about where to blow the whistle. Journal of Business and Psychology, 5, 223-35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Keenan, J. P. (2002). Whistleblowing: A study of managerial differences. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 14, 17-32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. King, G. III (1997). The effects of interpersonal closeness and issue seriousness on blowing the whistle. The Journal of Business Communication, 34, 419-36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. King, G. III (1999). The implications of an organization’s structure on whistleblowing. Journal of Business Ethics, 20, 315-26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. King, G. III (2001). Perceptions of intentional wrongdoing and peer reporting behavior among registered nurses. Journal of Business Ethics, 34, 1-13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. KPMG (2007). Profile of a fraudster survey 2007. Swiss: KPMG Forensic.Google Scholar
  40. Lee, J.Y., Heilman, S.G., and Near, J. P. (2004). Blowing the whistle on sexual harassment: Test of a model of predictors and outcomes. Human Relations, 57, 297-322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lewis, D. (2001). Whistleblowing at work: On what principles should legislation be based? The Industrial Law Journal, 30, 169-193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mesmer-Magnus J. R., and Viswervaran, C. (2005). Whistleblowing in organizations: An examination of correlates of whistleblowing intentions, actions and retaliation. Journal of Business Ethics, 62, 277-97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Miceli, M. P., and Near, J. P. (1984). The relationships among beliefs, organizational position, and whistleblowing status: A discriminant analysis. The Academy of Management Journal, 27, 687-705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Miceli, M. P., and Near, J. P. (1985). Characteristics of organizational climate and perceived wrongdoing associated with whistleblowing decisions. Personnel Psychology, 38, 525-44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Miceli, M. P., and Near, J. P. (1988). Individual and situational correlates of whistleblowing. Personnel Psychology. 41, 267-81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Miceli, M. P., and Near, J. P. (1992). Blowing the whistle: The organizational and legal implications for companies and employees. New York: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  47. Miceli, M. P., and Near, J. P. (1994). Relationships among value congruence, perceived victimization, and relation against whistle-blowers. Journal of Management, 20, 773-94.Google Scholar
  48. Miceli, M. P., and Near, J. P. (2002). What makes whistle-blowers effective? Three field studies. Human Relations, 55, 455-79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Miceli, M. P., and Near, J. P. (2005). Standing up or standing by: What predicts blowing the whistle on organizational wrongdoing. In J. Martocchio (Ed.). Research in personnel and human resources management (24, 95-136). Greenwich, CT: JAI/Elsevier Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Miceli, M. P. and J. P. Near: 2006, ‘Standing up or standing by: What predicts blowing the whistle on organizational wrongdoing?’, in J. Martocchio (ed.), Research in Personnel and Human Resource Management (JAI, Stamford, CT).Google Scholar
  51. Miceli, M. P., Near, J. P., and Dworkin, T. M. (2008). Whistleblowing in organizations. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Miceli, M. P., Near, J. P., and Dworkin, T. M. (2009). A word to the wise: How managers and policy-makers can encourage employees to report wrongdoing. Journal of Business Ethics, 86, 379-396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Miceli, M. P., and Near, J. P., and Schwenk, C. P. (1991). Who blows the whistle and why? Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 45, 113-30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Miceli, M. P., Rehg, M., Near, J. P., and Ryan, K. (1999). Can laws protect whistle-blowers? Results of a naturally occurring field experiment. Work and Occupations, 26, 129-51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Miethe, T. D. (1999). Whistleblowing at work: Tough choices in exposing fraud, waste and abuse on the job. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  56. Murphy, P. E. (1988). Implementing business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics 7, 907-15.Google Scholar
  57. Near, J. P., and Miceli, M. P. (1985). Organizational dissidence: The case of whistleblowing. Journal of Business Ethics, 4, 1-16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Near, J. P. and Miceli, M. P. (1987). Whistle-blowers in organizations: Dissidents or reformers? Research in Organizational Behavior, 9, 321-68.Google Scholar
  59. Near, J. P., and Miceli, M. P. (1995). Effective whistleblowing. Academy of Management Review, 20, 679-708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Near, J. P., and Miceli, M. P. (1996). Whistleblowing: Myth and reality. Journal of Management, 22, 507-26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Near, J. P., Rehg, M. T., Scotter J. R. van, and Miceli, M. (2004). Does type of wrongdoing affect the whistleblowing process? Business Ethics Quarterly, 14, 219-42.Google Scholar
  62. Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  63. Patel, C (2003). Some cross-cultural evidence on whistleblowing as an internal control mechanism. Journal of International Accounting Research, 2, 69-97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pershing, J. L. (2003). To snitch or not to snitch? Applying the concept of neutralization techniques to the enforcement of occupational misconduct. Sociological Perspectives, 46, 149–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Probst, T. M., Brubaker, T. L., and Barsotti, A. (2008). Organizational injury rate underreporting: the moderating effect of organizational safety climate. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1147-54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Ray, S. L. (2006). Whistleblowing and organizational ethics. Nursing Ethics, 13, 438-45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Robinson, S. L. and A. M. O’Leary-Kelly: 1998, ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do: The Influence of Work Groups on the Antisocial Behavior of Employees’, Academy of Management Journal 41, 658–672.Google Scholar
  68. Rothschild, J. and Miethe, T. D. (1999). Whistle-blower disclosures and management retaliation. Work and Occupations, 26, 107-28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rothwell, G. R., and Baldwin, J. N. (2007): Ethical climate theory, whistleblowing, and the code of silence in police agencies in the State of Georgia. Journal of Business Ethics, 70, 341-61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Schmidtke, J. W.: 2007, ‘The Relationship between Social Norm Consensus, Perceived Similarity, and Observer Reaction to Coworker Theft’, Human Resource Management 46(4), 561–582.Google Scholar
  71. Schnatterly, K. (2003). Increasing firm value through detection and prevention of white-collar crime. Strategic Management Journal, 24, 587-614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sims, R. L., and Keenan, J. P. (1998). Predictors of external whistleblowing: Organizational and intrapersonal variables. Journal of Business Ethics, 17, 411-21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Solomon, R. C. (1992). Ethics and excellence. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Solomon, R. C. (1999). A better way to think about business: How personal integrity leads to corporate success. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Tavakoli, A. A., Keenan, J. P., and Crnjak-Karanovic, B. (2003). Culture and whistleblowing: an empirical study of Croation and United States managers utilizing Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. Journal of Business Ethics, 43, 49-64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Treviño, L. K., and Nelson, K.A. (1999), Managing business ethics. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  77. Treviño, L. K., and Weaver, G. R. (2003). Managing ethics in business organizations: Social scientific perspectives. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  78. Tyler, T. R., and Blader, S. L. 2005. Can business effectively regulate employee conduct? The antecedents of rule following in work settings, Academy of Management Journal, 6, 1143-58Google Scholar
  79. Tulder, R. van, and Zwart, A. van der (2006). International business-society management. London: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  80. Velasquez, M. G. (2005). Business ethics: Concepts and cases. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  81. Victor, B., and Cullen, J. B. (1988). The organizational bases of ethical work climates. Administrative Science Quarterly, 33, 101-25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Victor, B., Treviño L. K., and Shapiro, D. L. (1993). Peer reporting of unethical behavior: the influence of justice evaluations and social context factors. Journal of Business Ethics, 12, 253-63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Zhuang, J., Stuart, T., and Miller, D. L. (2005). Examining culture’s effect on whistle-blowing and peer reporting. Business and Society, 44: 462-86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RSMErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations