Clarity About Whistleblower Protections May Scare off Whistleblowers

business_ethics_highlights_2This reminds us somewhat of the way safety procedures on planes remind us of risk. When the flight attendant explains the procedure to follow “in case of a water landing,” that tends to remind us that sometimes planes crash-land on water! Likewise, the study below suggests that if you assure potential whistleblowers that, don’t worry, we’ll protect you from the many many bad things that could happen to you if you blow the whistle, it may just heighten their fears and make them less likely to come forward. >>>

LINK: Study shows vivid language used to assure whistleblowers of protection instead evokes fear (press release from Florida Atlantic University)

A new study by researchers at Florida Atlantic University and Providence College has found that vivid language intended to assure potential whistleblowers they will be protected from retaliation is instead likely to evoke fear and make them less likely to report misconduct.

“When you start listing all the protections that you’re giving them you start raising their awareness of the risks and dangers,” said James Wainberg, Ph.D., a professor of accounting at FAU’s College of Business and co-author of the study with Stephen Perreault, Ph.D., assistant professor at Providence College School of Business. “It serves to raise their level of anxiety and has the opposite of its intended effect. All the protections are really a list of the things that can go wrong.”…

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