whistleblowinginaccounting - Journal of Business Ethics...

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An Examination of the Layers of Workplace InFuences in Ethical Judgments: Whistleblowing Likelihood and Perseverance in Public Accounting Eileen Z. Taylor Mary B. Curtis ABSTRACT. We employ a Layers of Workplace Influ- ence theory to guide our study of whistleblowing among public accounting audit seniors. Specifically, we examine professional commitment, organizational commitment versus colleague commitment (locus of commitment), and moral intensity of the unethical behavior on two measures of reporting intentions: likelihood of reporting and perseverance in reporting. We find that moral intensity relates to both reporting intention measures. In addition, while high levels of professional identity increase the likelihood that an auditor will initially report an observed violation, the auditor’s commitment to the organization drives perseverance in reporting. Results may assist organizations and researchers in their under- standing of antecedents to whistleblowing as a form of corporate governance and of the effect of these anteced- ents on whistleblowing perseverance. KEY WORDS: ethics, moral intensity, organizational commitment, professional identify, whistleblowing All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. – Edmund Burke (1729–1797) Introduction Despite the depth and breadth of authoritative standards available to guide accountant and auditor conduct, numerous stories in the press as well as academic research indicate that these standards have not been completely successful in eliminating ethical violations by accountants (Kaplan, 1995 ; Lee, 2002 ). While the Enron catastrophe is the most salient case of ethical violations, many other instances of severe ethical breaches have slipped past ±rm and corporate governance and quality controls. 1 Because of these continued breaches, con±dential reporting mecha- nisms have received signi±cant attention in recent years. However, new rules and legislation dictating the availability of hotlines and policies to discourage retaliation of whistleblowers (for example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002) have not made hotline usage as prevalent as one might expect. In search of possible explanations for this apparent reluctance to engage in whistleblower activities, we investigate the inFuence of organizational factors, less explored than the personal and contextual determinants of whis- tleblowing (²inn, 1995 ) – even though these factors may be the most responsive to organizational gov- ernance (Jenkins et al., 2008 ). Speci±cally, we examine a set of workplace inFuences that may sway an individual’s intentions to initially report, and then persist in reporting, unethical behavior. We investigate this phenomenon in a public accounting context. ²ew studies have considered whistleblowing in public accounting, although many ±rms have recently made con±dential reporting mechanisms available to their employees.
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2012 for the course EXPOSITORY 101 taught by Professor Mr during the Spring '06 term at Rutgers.

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whistleblowinginaccounting - Journal of Business Ethics...

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