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Perceptions, predictors and consequences of whistleblowing among accounting employees in Barbados

Philmore Alleyne (Department of Management Studies, University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados)
Wayne Charles-Soverall (Department of Management Studies, University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados)
Tracey Broome (Department of Management Studies, University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados)
Amanda Pierce (Department of Management Studies, University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 2049-372X

Article publication date: 5 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Whistleblowing has been receiving increased attention and support in recent times as a means of detecting and correcting wrongdoing in organizations. This study aims to examine perceptions, attitudes and consequences (actions and reactions) of whistleblowing, as well as the predictors of internal and external whistleblowing intentions, by using Graham’s (1986) model of principled organizational dissent in a small emerging and collectivist culture like Barbados.

Design/methodology/approach

The study utilized a self-administered survey of 282 accounting employees working in organizations in Barbados.

Findings

Results reveal that there is little awareness of whistleblowing legislation. Most respondents perceive whistleblowing as ethical and favor internal over external whistleblowing. Findings show that personal responsibility and personal costs significantly influence internal whistleblowing intentions, while personal costs influence external whistleblowing. Using qualitative data, several themes emerged as influencing whistleblowing: perceived benefits of whistleblowing, actual whistleblowing experiences (handling of reports), personal costs (climate of fear and hostility), perceived lack of anonymity and cultural norms.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should control for social desirability bias and use more rigorous qualitative approaches such as face-to-face interviews and focus groups to gain in-depth opinions and feelings on the topic.

Practical implications

Whistleblowing can be achieved through such mechanisms as perceived organizational support, strong ethical codes of conduct, rewarding ethical behavior and promoting sound work ethics in organizations.

Originality/value

This paper explores whistleblowing in an emerging economy where there has been little research on the topic. Thus, this study supplements the existing research in emerging economies by examining the applicability of Graham’s (1986) model of principled organizational dissent.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the insightful comments of the editor and two anonymous reviewers.

Citation

Alleyne, P., Charles-Soverall, W., Broome, T. and Pierce, A. (2017), "Perceptions, predictors and consequences of whistleblowing among accounting employees in Barbados", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 241-267. https://doi.org/10.1108/MEDAR-09-2016-0080

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited