Whistleblowers: A study of employee decision-making


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Dissertation regarding the lived experiences of whistleblowers.

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  • Whistleblowers: A study of employee decision-making

    1. 1. Whistleblowers: A study of employee decision-making. Tina M. Lamb Doctoral Candidate Capella University February, 2009 Dissertation Defense
    2. 2. Agenda <ul><ul><li>The previous presentation covered: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chapter 1 – Why this study? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chapter 2 – Literature Review </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chapter 3 - Methodology </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This presentation covers: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chapter 4 – Findings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chapter 5 – Results, Conclusions, and Recommendations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Questions </li></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Research Questions <ul><li>What are the events or experiences leading to whistleblowing? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the consequences of whistleblowing to the blower? </li></ul><ul><li>Would whistleblowers repeat the same behavior if they had to do it all over again? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Chapter 4 – Interview Summary <ul><li>This chapter details the participants in the study and ways in which their related stories were linked to each other. </li></ul><ul><li>Further, it describes the data collection process as well as the coding and analysis steps employed by the researcher. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Chapter 4 – Data Collection <ul><ul><li>Institute for Management Consultants USA (IMCUSA) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>44 respondents/18 interviews </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Chapter 4 - Findings <ul><li>Study Participant Demographics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Of the 18 study participants, all but one of them are currently management consultants, but a couple of them were not consultants when they blew the whistle. </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Chapter 4 – Data Collection and Analysis <ul><ul><li>Recording conversations equipment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delphi Technique </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The first session focused on responses to the first research question. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The second session focused on responses to the second research question. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The third session focused on responses to the third research question. </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Chapter 4 – Data Collection and Analysis <ul><ul><li>Transcripts of interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Findings – 1 st research question </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Every one was sure the activities were unethical based upon their own personal standards of ethical business behavior, and based upon the standards of their professions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It was the right thing to do. </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Chapter 4 – Data Collection and Analysis <ul><ul><li>Findings – 2 nd research question </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There was a range of ramifications that included both positive and negative responses. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>awarded a large financial settlement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>threats and reprisals </li></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Chapter 4 – Data Collection and Analysis <ul><ul><li>Findings – 3 rd research question </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They would do it again. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A couple participants had blown the whistle more than once. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They felt they had a responsibility. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>They would not compromise their reputations or risk their CPA certification. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Chapter 4 – Data Analysis (Coding) <ul><ul><li>Six major themes . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fear of retaliatory action against them. (motive) </li></ul><ul><li>Disappointment in top leaders for inaction. (emotion) </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of losing professional certification if they did not report unethical activities. (motive) </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of losing professional reputation if they did not report unethical activities. (motive) </li></ul><ul><li>Feeling that what they did was the right thing to do. (norm) </li></ul><ul><li>Having high personal and professional standards of ethical behavior. (norm) </li></ul>
    12. 12. Chapter 4 – Research Tool Validity <ul><li>The Delphi technique </li></ul><ul><ul><li>flexible way to access and exchange human experience not obtainable under other methods “because of time or cost constraints” (Linstone, p. 275). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Useful tool in qualitative research because it has a scaffolding characteristic with which to build a complete story of the phenomenon under study. </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Chapter 4 – Summary of Findings <ul><ul><li>They felt morally compelled to bring up the issues to someone within their organization, a term that Johnson (2003) found often in her whistleblower research. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Of the 18 in the study, only one said he would not again blow the whistle on the organization because it was too much work and too much of a personal cost. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A few chose to leave their organizations of their own accord because they felt that there was not an ethical fit between the organization and themselves. </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Chapter 5 - Contents <ul><li>Chapter 5 explains how the researcher addressed the problem statement discussed in Chapter 1. </li></ul><ul><li>The results discussed in Chapter 4 are further discussed in Chapter 5 to indicate their relationship to both the literature review in Chapter 2 and the methodology discussed in Chapter 3. </li></ul><ul><li>Lastly, Chapter 5 concludes with limitations of this study and suggestions for future research. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Chapter 5 – What is the problem? <ul><li>Employees get tired of wrestling with their conscience over the battle of job security and the ethical and moral awareness of wrongdoing. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Chapter 5 – Direction of Study <ul><li>The primary direction of this dissertation was to understand the decision-making process that people experience when they observe unethical activities. </li></ul><ul><li>What activities were observed? </li></ul><ul><li>How was the decision to blow the whistle made? </li></ul><ul><li>What were the repercussions of blowing the whistle? </li></ul><ul><li>Why didn’t they blow the whistle? </li></ul><ul><li>Would they do it again? </li></ul>
    17. 17. Chapter 5 – Purpose of the study <ul><li>Purpose: to explore the experiences people had as they contemplated blowing the whistle, and to understand their decision-making processes. </li></ul><ul><li>This study is important because it may disclose more recent information about the decision-making involved in the whistleblowing phenomenon that has not already been disclosed in research. </li></ul>
    18. 18. Chapter 5 – Focus of Study <ul><li>phenomenological tradition through an anthropologic lens </li></ul><ul><li>the focus was on what the study participants felt and thought as they lived the whistleblowing phenomenon </li></ul>
    19. 19. Chapter 5 – Lit Review Connections <ul><li>Literature review connections: </li></ul><ul><li>Moral Development </li></ul><ul><ul><li>upbringing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>professional standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>their own reputation was at stake </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>they would be seen as being a part of the problem </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Chapter 5 – Lit Review Connections <ul><li>Literature review connections: </li></ul><ul><li>Upper Echelon </li></ul><ul><ul><li>nearly all of the study participants were upper level executives either at the time they experienced the phenomenon or today </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the ethical quotient of an organization is set from the top management team </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Chapter 5 – Lit Review Connections <ul><li>Literature review connections: </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of Retaliation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>#1 thing that stops some whistleblowing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>knowing of possible retaliatory actions does not stop people from blowing the whistle </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Groupthink </li></ul>
    22. 22. Chapter 5 – Discussion of Results <ul><li>All of the study participants felt that blowing the whistle was the right thing to do. </li></ul><ul><li>There were ramifications for most of the whistleblowers in this study. </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the study participants would blow the whistle again. </li></ul>
    23. 23. Chapter 5 – Conclusions <ul><li>This study primarily concludes that many whistleblowers blew the whistle after witnessing or discovering unethical activity because they felt that it was morally the right thing to do. </li></ul><ul><li>They felt compelled to act. </li></ul><ul><li>Most people would blow the whistle. </li></ul>
    24. 24. Chapter 5 –Study Limitations <ul><li>allotting time for interviews </li></ul><ul><li>trustworthiness of data </li></ul>
    25. 25. Chapter 5 – Further Research <ul><li>socioeconomic status and ethical behavior of top management team members </li></ul><ul><li>a quantitative research with same participants </li></ul><ul><li>are occupations an indicator, or predictor, of what type of person will blow the whistle </li></ul><ul><li>subversive retaliation </li></ul><ul><li>study of family members of whistleblowers </li></ul>
    26. 26. Questions <ul><li>Thank you for the time today and throughout this process. Your input and expertise are valued and appreciated. </li></ul><ul><li>Tina Marie </li></ul>