Organizational Culture and Ethics: The Influence Organizational and Personal Values Have on Perceptions of Misconduct and the Factors of Whistleblowing

Organizational Culture and Ethics: The Influence Organizational and Personal Values Have on Perceptions of Misconduct and the Factors of Whistleblowing

Regina Durante (Greystone International Leadership Group, USA) and Asiye Toker Gökçe (Kocaeli University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch073
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Abstract

As a process, whistleblowing is giving information about the acts resulting in harm to third parties. It is a disclosure by organizational members of illegal, immoral, or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action. Although whistleblowing seems to be a threat to organizational authority structures, it can improve long-term organizational effectiveness when leaders encourage whistleblowing in their organizations to improve their organization's effectiveness and efficiency. Further, the assurance of an ethical organizational system of procedures to frame behavior coupled with individuals who hold similar values can aid organizations in reducing wrongdoing. Without a framework of aligned values, a lack of consensus occurs causing ethical dilemmas. To better understand the motives and reasoning behind whistleblowing and whistleblowers when perceiving wrongdoing, this chapter examines the influence organizational and personal values have on perceptions of misconduct and the factors and characteristics of whistleblowers. In doing so, it will aid leaders and managers in understanding and solving issues of conflict within their sphere of influence.
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Introduction

Whistleblowing is described as ‘the disclosure by organization members of illegal, immoral, or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action’. A whistleblower releases information deliberately and employs unconventional methods to make the disclosure. When normal disclosure channels have failed, the whistleblower may feel compelled to act. A whistleblower has two dilemmas; a dissent between personal and organizational values, and a dissent between engagements owed to his/her organization and to parties beyond it. Thus, moral courage and moral reasoning are two of the most important factors to understanding one’s propensity to blow the whistle. Moral reasoning requires the ability to recognize and correctly evaluate any ethical dilemma (Near at al., 1993; Jubb, 1999; Miceli et al., 2001; Liyanarachchi & Newdick, 2009).

As a process, whistleblowing is giving information about the acts resulting in harm to third parties. It is a disclosure by organizational members of illegal, immoral, or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action. Although whistleblowing seems to be a threat to organizational authority structures, it can improve long-term organizational effectiveness when leaders encourage whistleblowing in their organizations to improve their organization’s effectiveness and efficiency. So, organization members, stockholders, and society can benefit from the halt of organizational wrongdoings such as fraud, discrimination, or safety violations. From this point, whistleblowers may suggest solutions to organizational problems (Near & Miceli, 1985; Miceli et al., 1999).

Further, the assurance of an organizational system of procedures to frame behavior coupled with individuals who hold similar values can aid organizations in reducing wrongdoing. Without an established framework of aligned values within an organization or employees who hold personal values and ethics that frame their actions, a lack of consensus occurs causing conflicts and further misconduct.

A lack of consensus occurs in many public and private organizations. Saying one thing while doing another appears commonplace practices for many leaders, managers, and employees. A sliding metric of right and wrong behavior can be found in any organizational culture. To better address and understand the motives and reasoning behind whistleblowing and whistleblowers when facing immoral, unethical, or illegal practices, this chapter examines the influence organizational and personal values have on perceptions of misconduct and the factors of whistleblowing. It will bring to light the characteristics of whistleblowers and the thought processes of ethical decision-making.

Further, it serves global readers working in any organizational sector with an understanding of value-based leadership and its influence on the perceptions of wrongdoing. It offers a practical model of value-based decision-making when facing practices of misconduct while suggesting answers to questions concerning how and why actions are perceived and how to align better organizational values with behaviors. Finally, by understanding the nature and thinking of whistleblowers, it aids leaders and managers in solving issues of conflict within their sphere of influence.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ethics: A system of moral principles, values, or rules of conduct recognized by individuals, groups, or cultures that relate conduct or behavior with the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of the actions ( Stein & Urdang, 1971 ).

Whistleblowing: The disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal, immoral, or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action ( Near & Miceli, 1985 ).

Ethical Dilemmas: Occur when personal values question or conflict with the accepted norms of behavior regarding rightness, wrongness, honesty, or fairness leaving more than one way to solve a problem (Strike, 1988 AU56: The in-text citation "Strike, 1988" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. in McKeachie, 2011 AU57: The in-text citation "McKeachie, 2011" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Organizational Wrongdoing: Wrongdoing in organizations such as waste and discrimination, legal violations mismanagement and sexual harassment, and stealing and safety problems ( Near et al., 2004 ).

Whistleblower: An employee or officer of any institution, profit or non-profit, private or public, who believes either that he/she has been ordered to perform some act or he/she has obtained knowledge that the institution is engaged in activities which are believed to cause unnecessary harm to third parties, are in violation of human rights or run counter to the defined purpose of the institution and who inform the public of this fact (Bowie, 1982 AU60: The in-text citation "Bowie, 1982" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Norms: Shared beliefs of social or professional groups about expected or desired behavior in a given situation or circumstance, constituting a collective conscience (Braxton and Bayer, 1999 AU58: The in-text citation "Braxton and Bayer, 1999" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Dubois, 2002 AU59: The in-text citation "Dubois, 2002" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Durkheim, 1995 [1912]).

Values: Beliefs, ethics, or principles that create a set of informal rules that regulate the behavior of a group or people bound by a common purpose ( Feldman, 2001 ).

Value-Based Leadership: A model where the values of all stakeholders create an organizational code of standards and ethics and enable individuals to make independent ethical decisions when facing a dilemma where two correct solutions are possible ( Mendonca & Kanungo, 2007 ).

Perception: The act of capturing or understanding by the senses or the mind thoughts that acknowledge and recognize moral qualities ( Stein & Urdang 1971 ).

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