Factors in the Reporting of Unethical Conduct: The Importance of Trust in Leaders [thesis]

Michael Andrew Norton
My research investigates factors related to the reporting of unethical conduct. While accounting for known individual, organizational and situational correlates, I focus particularly on leaders and especially on trust in leaders as whistle-blowing research to date has neglected the well-developed sociological literature of trust. Leveraging the benefits of multiple methods, I analyze recent secondary data on federal civilian employees, collect and analyze interview data at four civilian and
more » ... tary sites, and conduct a factorial vignette study to test factors and themes identified in the first two sections of my research. My secondary data analyses support previous whistle-blowing research in relating supervisor status, greater importance placed on anonymity, greater organizational support for anonymous reporting, greater organizational protection for whistle-blowers and greater severity of observed misconduct to increased reporting. Contrary to what previous literature theorizes, I find more observed leader misconduct and in-group location of misconduct relate to increased reporting. With the exception of an expressed in-group preference, my qualitative analyses reinforce these findings and identify a peer-oriented culture and self-preservation as reasons why unethical conduct may go unreported. My interview data also reveal that participants prefer to report unethical conduct to a trusted leader, although the severity of such misconduct may moderate this preference. My vignette analyses find greater trust in leaders is related to increased reporting only for non-supervisors, highlighting the additional importance trust plays for lower-status individuals. Also, good behavior by the leader accepting a report is related to increased reporting for all participants. My vignette data bolster previous findings, including relating a lesser orientation towards Machiavellianism to increased reporting, and find the severity of observed misconduct has the largest relative effect on the reporting outcome. Counter [...]
doi:10.13016/m2n288 fatcat:aym4duyezveoddkpttzoog5ee4