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Business Ethics in Organizations: An Experimental Examination of Whistleblowing and Personality

Author

Listed:
  • Bartuli, Jenny

    () (Continental AG)

  • Djawadi, Behnud Mir

    () (University of Paderborn)

  • Fahr, René

    () (University of Paderborn)

Abstract

The present paper suggests an innovative experimental design to study the nature and occurrence of whistleblowing in an employee-organization context. In particular, we aim at identifying whether student subjects in the role of employees are willing to blow the whistle on their managers' decisions to withhold money that is destined for a charitable purpose. Since the sole act of reporting leads to negative financial consequences for both players, the employee faces a conflict between ethical considerations and monetary interests. Of the 111 employee-manager pairings, 88 managers misappropriate the donation funds and 33 employees blow the whistle on their managers' fraudulent behaviors. We use different scales of the HEXACO and the DOSPERT personality inventory to link measures of personality traits to actual behavior which enables us to identify specific characteristics that distinguish whistleblowers from silent observers. We find that the Honesty-Humility factor scale is a strong predictor for whistleblowing. Further, employees who are more altruistic and more aware of ethical issues are more likely to refrain from supporting fraud and report wrongdoing. With the foci on research exploring individual and situational antecedents of whistleblowing, our experimental design offers researchers a new approach to studying organizational behavior of ethical scope under controlled and incentive-compatible conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Bartuli, Jenny & Djawadi, Behnud Mir & Fahr, René, 2016. "Business Ethics in Organizations: An Experimental Examination of Whistleblowing and Personality," IZA Discussion Papers 10190, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10190
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Johannes Buckenmaier & Eugen Dimant & Luigi Mittone, 2016. "Tax Evasion and Institutions. An Experiment on The Role of Principal Witness Regulations," PPE Working Papers 0007, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    2. Masclet, David & Montmarquette, Claude & Viennot-Briot, Nathalie, 2019. "Can whistleblower programs reduce tax evasion? Experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    3. Benjamin Florian Siggelkow & Jan Trockel & Oliver Dieterle, 2018. "An inspection game of internal audit and the influence of whistle-blowing," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 88(7), pages 883-914, September.
    4. Jeffrey V. Butler & Danila Serra & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2017. "Motivating Whistleblowers," CEIS Research Paper 419, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 12 Dec 2017.
    5. Armenak Antinyan & Luca Corazzini & Filippo Pavesi, 2018. "What Matters for Whistleblowing on Tax Evaders? Survey and Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 07/2018, University of Verona, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    whistleblowing; fraud; organizational wrongdoing; social norms; experimental economics; laboratory experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets

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