Edited by A. J. Brown, David Lewis, Richard E. Moberly and Wim Vandekerckhove
Chapter 8: Reporting versus inaction: How much is there, what explains the differences and what to measure
Informed by the important but occasional cases that grab the attention of the media, whistleblowing is often painted as rare – and the employee who does so as extraordinary. This chapter seeks to more fully describe the level of whistleblowing in response to observed wrongdoing in organizations. Drawing on empirical research, it shows the customary notion that whistleblowing is a rare activity to be largely untrue. In doing so, it confirms research demonstrating the importance of whistleblowing and the critical role it has played worldwide in exposing wrongdoing in or by organizations. As explained in Chapter 1, reporting by employees – often in the best position to observe, witness or otherwise know what is occurring in organizations – is often the most common way in which wrongdoing is brought to light (e.g., ACFE 2012; Brown, Mazurski and Olsen 2008; KPMG 2010; Miethe 1999). This chapter begins by synthesizing what we know from the considerable array of international literature concerning how much whistleblowing occurs. It overviews the research methods used to estimate the level of reporting by employees, as well as their limitations. The chapter seeks to reconcile findings and provide a better context for these estimates, derived from large-scale surveys of employees about the proportion of employees who say they have observed wrongdoing and the proportion of those observers who indicate they went on to blow the whistle.
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