Would You Blow-the-Whistle on a Friend?
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Whistleblowing is an essential tool in exposing wrongdoings and ending corruption, however it can be an arduous and unforgiving task that few are willing to accept. Individuals that do decide to blow-the-whistle are often subject to retaliation, loss of employment, and defamation of character. Despite the costs associated with whistleblowing, there are individuals who are willing to come forward about these illegal, unruly, or unethical, acts. This study analyzes how a person’s relationship with a wrongdoer affects whether he or she reports the wrongdoer’s misconduct. In this study over 360 undergraduate and graduate business students were asked if they would report a wrongdoing based on a series of scenarios. The scenarios incorporated a variety of situations that could occur either at a university or a corporation. The data showed there was a significant difference in the responses from students when the wrongdoer was a stranger and when the wrongdoer had a closer relationship with the potential whistleblower. The data also exhibited that when a wrongdoer holds a superior position to the potential whistleblower, the potential whistleblower would be affected by the wrongdoer’s superior position unless the wrongdoing committed is extremely severe. This study shows that the whistleblower’s relationship with the wrongdoer does affect his or her intent to blow-the-whistle. This research is valuable in understanding the factors that drive the whistleblower’s intent to report misconduct.