Antecedents and Outcomes of Retaliation Against Whistleblowers: Gender Differences and Power Relationships

Rehg, Michael T.; Miceli, Marcia P.; Near, Janet P.; Van Scotter, James R.
March 2008
Organization Science;Mar/Apr2008, Vol. 19 Issue 2, p221
Academic Journal
Whistle-blowing represents an influence attempt in which organization member(s) try to persuade other members to cease wrongdoing; sometimes they fail; sometimes they succeed; sometimes they suffer reprisal. We investigated whether women experienced more retaliation than men, testing propositions derived from theories about gender differences and power variables, and using data from military and civilian employees of a large U.S. base. Being female was correlated with perceived retaliation. Results of structural equation modeling showed significant gender differences in antecedents and outcomes of retaliation. For men, lack of support from others and low whistleblower's power were significantly related to retaliation; for women, lack of support from others, serious wrongdoing, and the wrongdoing's direct effect on the whistleblower were significantly associated with retaliation. Retaliation in turn was negatively related to relationships with the supervisor for both men and women, and positively related to women's--but not men's--decisions to blow the whistle again, using external channels. We finish by discussing implications for theory and practice.


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