Whistleblowing Intentions of Lower-Level Employees: The Effect of Reporting Channel, Bystanders, and Wrongdoer Power Status

Abstract

It has been suggested that a reporting channel administered by a third-party may represent a stronger procedural safeguard of anonymity and avoids the appearance of impropriety. This study examines whistleblowing intentions among lower-tier employees, specifically examines whether an externally-administered reporting channel increases whistleblowing intentions compared to an internally-administered one. In contrast to the findings of an earlier study by Kaplan et al. (Audit J Pract Theory 28(2):273–288, 2009), our results suggest that whistle-blowing intentions are higher when the reporting channel is administered externally than when it is administered internally. We also find that an externally-administered reporting channel mitigates the negative effect of bystanders on whistleblowing intentions. Implications are discussed.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    We replicated the ANOVA omitting the wrongdoer power status × bystander interaction and the three-way interaction as these interactions are not hypothesized. The resulting hypothesis tests and significance levels are nearly identical to those in Table 1. In addition, we performed an ANCOVA with gender as a covariate. Gender is omitted from the analysis as it is not statistically significant.

  2. 2.

    Advantages to specifying and testing a single multiple mediation model in lieu of separate simple mediation models are: (1) it is possible to determine the significance of a specific mediator, conditional on the presence of other mediators in the model; (2) it is possible to include multiple mediators in one model to allow the test of competing theories; and (3) in a single multiple mediation model, the likelihood of parameter bias due to omitted variables is reduced (Preacher and Hayes 2008).

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Correspondence to Jingyu Gao or Bernard Wong-On-Wing.

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We are thankful for the valuable comments of participants at the Waterloo 1st Biennial Symposium on Accounting Ethics, the 2012 ABO Meeting in Atlanta, and the 17th Annual Ethics Research Symposium in Washington, DC.

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Gao, J., Greenberg, R. & Wong-On-Wing, B. Whistleblowing Intentions of Lower-Level Employees: The Effect of Reporting Channel, Bystanders, and Wrongdoer Power Status. J Bus Ethics 126, 85–99 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-013-2008-4

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Keywords

  • Whistleblowing
  • Bystander effect
  • Reporting channel
  • Sarbanes-Oxley