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Managerial Support is Key

Thursday 22 March 2018


The likelihood of an employee coming forward to report wrong-doing is connected to the power of the wrong-doer and also to the level of managerial support the employee feels they will receive.
 
During the Blowing the Whistle Panel event at the 2018 ASIC Forum, Marcia Miceli, Professor of Management, The McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, and Professor AJ Brown, Professor of Public Policy and Law, and Program Leader, Public Integrity and Anti-Corruption, Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University, shared a snapshot of their key findings from their Whistling While You Work surveys.
 
At the time of the presentation, the survey project was still accepting open for participants.
 
According to Miceli, so far, the project has data from 38 organisations, with a total of 10 or more employees per organisation. This adds up to about 15,000 people in the sample.
 
The sample Miceli shared with the audience dealt with the power of the wrong-doer and the panacea of managerial support.
 
The first hypothesis they researched looked at whether it is less likely for an investigation to be initiated if the wrong-doer holds a position of power in the company.
 
“The greater the power of the wrong-doer, the less likely the whistleblower got investigative action,” said Miceli, “and the greater the chance of them suffering more consequences and repercussions.”
 
However, Miceli said findings from their second hypothesis on managerial support indicated that the level of managerial support given to the whistleblower does help with the initiation of investigations.
 
“The third hypotheses we wanted to test was whether having managerial support reduces the consequences of reporting on a high-level wrong-doer,” said Miceli. “We found that it did.”
 
She emphasised, however, that this third finding occurred primarily in the private sector and was not supported by evidence from the public sector.
 

 
Whistleblowing legislation in Australia

AJ Brown, Professor of Public Policy and Law, and Program Leader, Public Integrity and Anti-Corruption, Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University, supported the view of another panel speaker, Marie Macdonald. Both believe there needs to be an investigation into whether a US-style rewards or compensation scheme can fit into the context of the kind of culture desired in Australia.
 
The Parliamentary Joint Committee (PJC) in Corporations and Financial Institutions, however, have considered the possibility of a compensation scheme for the first time.
 
Brown emphasised the importance of a regime that is simple for Australian businesses, and for potential Australian whistleblowers. In the US, for example, there are 47 different pieces of federal legislation that apply to the private sector, all of which have whistleblowing provisions.
 
“Australia has the opportunity to avoid going down that track and instead to implement something far more seamless,” he said. “And that’s the recommendation of the Parliamentary Joint Committee as well.”
 
The question of whether ASIC will remain the default whistleblowing agency or whether that title will go to a ‘stand-alone’ agency, is still under discussion.