The Prevalence and the
Profile of Whistleblowers
The previous chapter indicated that employees often observe misconduct at work. The questions addressed in this chapter are: (1) How often do employees report what they observe, and (2) what are the personal, situational, and organizational characteristics that influence the likelihood of being a whistleblower?
Given strong societal norms about snitching, it is reasonable to expect that most people would remain quiet about organizational misconduct. The frequency of whistleblowing across different studies and different types of employees is summarized in Table 4.1. Rates of whistleblowing vary widely across these groups.
Almost two-thirds of the employees in our national survey who observed misconduct reported it. About one-half of the sample of all Virginia employees were whistleblowers compared to less than one-fourth of the workers in select businesses and industries in that state. Samples of spe