Article

Encouraging Public Sector Employees to Report Workplace Corruption

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Abstract

This paper aims to do two things: (1) report the findings of a survey of 800 public sector employees regarding attitudes to reporting workplace corruption; and (2) offer suggestions for practical strategies which managers can employ to encourage employees to report wrongdoing. Survey responses indicated that the existence of whistleblower protection legislation might encourage people to make a report which they may not normally consider making. The majority of respondents indicated that they believe that it is their responsibility to report corruption. The majority, however, are also unsure about their organisation’s ability and/or willingness to protect them if they do make a report. Not surprisingly, then, most also expect that people who report corruption will suffer for it.

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... It is this triple vital role of the media that led Schudson (2008) to argue for the wide necessity of an unlovable press. While exploring the media's role in reporting corruption, Zipparo (1999) underlined that a significant personal risk is taken when corruption is to be exposed by individuals; and thus reporting corruption, while being important, is not a simple matter. In his work, Zipparo notes that reporting is a complex issue that depends on factors such as organisational culture and the broader environment, as well as a belief about whether reporting would make a significant difference or not. ...
... As the interviewees argued, the lack or inability of the wider system that would allow them to feel not only secure in their job but also personally safe is a key challenge obstructing the media from reporting on corruption, since, as they argued, whistle-blowing and reporting corruption come with a significant personal risk. As Zipparo (1999) highlighted, for media representatives to report on corruption, a safe and well-protected environment needs to be created in order to better safeguard them from potential harm. However, as was argued repeatedly by the interviewees, such an environment is absent in the Balkan countries examined, with reporters and whistle-blowers facing tremendous personal risks while feeling exposed to potential harm, as the following quote shows: ...
... While efforts are being made in the countries studied, both by national governments and international organisations, to introduce laws and policies, and develop networks of protection for whistle-blowers (Dingli, 2018), criticism was expressed that they are far from being considered successful and trustworthy. As a result, and due to the lack of effective and reliable support reported, and the wider risks that speaking up about corruption entail, as Zipparo (1999) argued, journalists can face significant professional and personal challenges in their efforts to report on corruption in a well-substantiated fashion. A key issue in this challenge, as has been argued, is the wider ostracism that the media faces by the broader anti-corruption system, often led by international sport governing bodies, legal authorities and betting operators (Dingli, 2018). ...
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... Willingness to act is conditional on possible retaliations from workplace superiors as well as colleagues. Fear of reprisal ([2]: 774; [7]: 284; [17]) just as the expectation of support from the organization [18] and the qualities of leadership [19] is important in deciding to report or not. We argue that the likelihood a whistleblower will use a channel varies according to his expectation of collegial and organizational sanctions. ...
... In the face of social sanctions, the whistleblower will also have to consider whether the superior can guarantee protection, for example, in the form of anonymity. Knowledge of previous incidences of retaliation nudge whistleblowers to prefer anonymous reporting [27], and it is found that the possibility of anonymity increases reporting [10,17]. The downside of anonymity, however, is that in reality anonymity is difficult to achieve. ...
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... There ought to be a culture of good governance in the higher landscape of the public sector, which supports whistleblowing and protects whistleblowers (Taiwo, 2015), whereas the notion of good governance connotes an organization culture where ethical practices are really upheld (Larmer, 2002), and so there is the need for legislation to encourage public sector employees to report wrongdoing (Zipparo, 1999), in their organizations in order to promote a good sense of ethical consciousness and practices in the system. ...
... Secondo Curtis e Taylor (2009), la propensione a denunciare è più alta quando l'identità del potenziale whistleblower viene protetta o quando viene garantito l'anonimato. Da uno studio di Zipparo (1999) condotto in Australia è emerso che la presenza di protezione legale aumenta l'intenzione di compiere whistleblowing. In un lavoro di Liyanarachchi e Adler (2011), l'86% dei soggetti riteneva che la presenza di protezione legale fosse importante nel determinare la scelta di denunciare un illecito organizzativo. ...
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... Individuals with high moral values do not commit themselves in unethical behavior, including corruption acts. Also, public employees are willing to report an offender if situation requires, especially when public managers encourage this behavior (Zipparo, 1999). Subsequently, it can be argued that public employees are engaged in their job mostly because they are intrinsically motivated in performing their job. ...
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... With less corruption comes less ensuing whistleblowing. For individual citizens, speaking out is costly, particularly so against governmental agencies that often have institutional forces to suppress dissidence (Zipparo, 1999). Also, less corruption incidence indicates a less compelling status against which citizens are not easily motivated to act (Dozier & Miceli, 1985). ...
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Preprint
Despite strong whistleblowing intention, very few truly act to blow the whistle. Building on a random sample of local citizens with citywide anticorruption performance indicators , this study investigated the linkages between institutional anticorruption and citizens' whistleblowing acts, both directly and indirectly via situational settings (i.e., corruption incidence and corruptive climate). The findings confirmed the impacts of varying anticorruption practices and detected both direct and indirect trajectories. More judicial convictions against senior officials directly reduced citizens' subsequent whistleblowing acts, but also indirectly invited more as they signaled more ensuing corruption incidence, with overall effects toward reduced whistleblowing. More citywide public whistleblowing incentivized more individual whistleblowing subsequently; yet, such effects were can-celed out as such practices also deterred ensuing corruption incidence and indirectly reduced citizens' acts. The total effects explained why there were so few acting whis-tleblowers. The study concludes with discussion of research findings and potential policy implications.
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... This legislation allows employees, citizens, watchdog organizations and the media to unveil the corruption, providing them with tools to both prevent illegal behaviour and punish them after the transgression (Escaleras, Lin and Register 2010). More specifically, this legislation tries to encourage public sector employees as well as external stakeholders to report wrongdoing (Zipparo 1999), since the organization's effectiveness and performance enhance when whistle-blowing is encouraged (Near and Miceli 1995). ...
Chapter
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... Masses of citizens took to the streets demanding better conditions of health, education, safety, and other topics of importance to the Brazilian nation. Among the latter were calls for improved usage of public funds, greater transparency and an end to corruption, which erodes the Brazilian public sector, and is considered an endemic problem within the public sector on a global level (Riley, 1988; Olowu, 1999; Zipparo, 1999; Zafarullah; Siddiquee, 2001; Davis, 2004; Pillay, 2004). Transparency can be considered the soul of the democratic system, with a greater degree of it, as well as openness, resulting in a better ability, on part of the public, to be aware of the actions of elected officials (Kierkegaard, 2009). ...
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... Upon examining the strong and weak points of the current strategies for corruption reduction in said nations, gathering data from interviews and focus group discussion, the author argues that these two concurring drivers are seen when corruption is reduced: (i) changes in service provider accountability networks, and (ii) shifts with the workplace environment that increases the moral cost of corrupt behavior. Zipparo (1999) addresses the practice of encouraging employees to report cases of workplace corruption (i.e. whistleblowing) in a study on the Australian public sector. ...
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... 3 In contrast to this confused picture, there is some clearer evidence of the sociodemographic characteristics of those individuals deterred from blowing the whistle. For example, Zipparo (1999) found that in specific contexts, such as deregulated labour markets, younger respondents, female respondents, respondents in lower-income groups and non-supervisors were more likely to be deterred from reporting workplace corruption. Moreover, as Wortley et al (2008) suggest, reporting is less likely to occur when wrongdoing involves a group of 'wrongdoers' or if 'wrongdoers' are at a higher level in the organisational hierarchy in relation to the whistleblower. ...
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... The awareness about the absence of a system that ensures whistle-blowing so as to curb corruption in its different manifestations may necessitate certain interventions and initiatives in the public sector organizations. Zipparo (1999) delineates that there should be legislation to encourage public sector employees to report wrongdoing, whereas Near and Miceli (1995) argue that organizational effectiveness enhances when whistle-blowing is encouraged and wrongdoing is discouraged. ...
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Whistleblower Protection -The Gap Between the Law and Reality
  • T M Devine
  • Dg Alpin
Devine, TM & DG Alpin 1988 'Whistleblower Protection -The Gap Between the Law and Reality', Howard Law Journal 31:223-39.