Whistle-Blowing - M aking S ense f W histle-Blowing's o...

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Making Sense of Whistle-Blowing's Antecedents: Learning from Research on Identity and Ethics Programs Abhijeet K. Vadera, RuthV Aguilera, and Brianna B. Caza ABSTRACT: Despite a significantincrease in whisfle-blowing practices in work organiza- tions, we know little about what differentiates whistle-blowers from those who observe a wrongdoing but chose not to report it. In this review article, we first highlight the arenas in which research on whistle-blowing has produced inconsistent results and those in which the findings have been consistent. Second, we propose that the adoption of an identity approach will help clarify the inconsistent findings and extend prior work on individual-level motives behind whistle-blowing. Third, we argue that the integration of the whistle-blowingresearch with that on ethicsprogramswill aid in systematically expanding our understanding of the situational antecedents of whistle-blowing. We conclude our review by discussing new theoretical and methodolosicalarenas of research in the domain of whistle-blowins. T T.S. ORGANIZATIONS LOSE FIVE PERCENT of their annual revenues, l-/ equivalentto $652 billion, to fraud (Association of Certifled Fraud Examin- ers, 2006).This huge loss suggests that organizatrons and their various stakeholders need to monitor better those engaging in white-collar crime and other unethical practicesin organizations. Miceli and Near (2005) arguedthat the most effective stakeholders for reducing the occurrence of unethical behaviors in organizations were the employees of the organizations. For instance, in a study conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (2006),'tipso' mainly from employees, were found to be the most common means by which fraud was detected. However, another survey on workplace ethics (Hudson Employment Index, 2005) showed that of the almost one third (31 percent)of U.S. employees witnessing co-workers engaging in ethical misconduct, only half (52 percent) reported it to an authority. Non-reporting of unethical practices by those observing them may influence the occunence of crimes in the modern orgarization. In fact, from 1996 to 2005, the federal government, through the help of whistle-blowers, recovered $9.3 billion in fraudulent Medicare claims, according to data from the Department of Justice (Hernandez, 2008). Given these striking reporting rates and figures, it is clear that we need to understand better the individual and situational antecedents of whistle- blowing so that organizational members can be encouraged to adopt this effective mode of "societal control mechanism over orqanizational misdeeds" (Miceli & Near,2005: 98). Whistle-blowing is defined as "the disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal, immoral, or illegitimate practicesunder the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action" (Near & @2009 BusinessEthics Quarterly 19:4 (October 2009); ISSN 1052-150X pp. 553-586
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