Cultural Influences on Whistleblowing: A Study of Philippine and U.S. Managers
JOHN P. KEENAN, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Leadership Programs
ACCEL – Medaille College
2 Hillsboro Drive
Orchard Park, NY
(716) 667-2516 (phone/fax); (716) 390-9657 (cell)
STEVEN REMINGTON, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Marketing
Harold Walter Siebens School of Business
Buena Vista University
610 West 4th St.
Storm Lake, Iowa 50588
(712) 749-2474 (phone); (712) 749-1462 (fax)
Keenan, J. P. and Remington, S. (2002). Cultural Influences on Whistleblowing: A
Study of Philippine and U.S. Managers. In Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual
Meeting of the Western Decision Sciences Institute, April 2-5, 2002, Las Vegas, NV.
Culture and Whistleblowing: A Study of Philippine and U.S. Managers
International commerce and the increasing globalization of our planet with
respect to political, social and economic realities results in a variety of new
dilemmas for leaders and managers in multinational organizations. One area
where major difficulties often arise concerns handling ethical problems within a
different cultural context. Whistleblowing is one possible response to ethical
problems. This study considers the differences in culture between a United States
sample of managers and a Phillipine sample of managers using Hofstede’s (1991)
theory of International Cultures. The study explores how these cultural differences
may help in our understanding of the differences in reported whistleblowing
International commerce and the increasing globalization of our planet with respect to
political, social and economic realities results in a variety of new dilemmas for leaders and
managers in multinational organizations. One area where major difficulties often arise concerns
handling ethical problems within a different cultural context. Unfortunately, little research has
been conducted on cross-cultural or multi-cultural ethics although efforts are being made in
developing a conceptual approach to cross-cultural ethics (Wines and Napier, 1992).
While the study of cultural differences is intriguing in and of itself, the effect those
cultural differences have when it comes to the ethical decision making of managers is of practical
significance to researchers and organizations. One aspect of ethical decision making that has
received recent interest by researchers is whistleblowing (Miceli, & Near, 1992; Keenan, 2000,
1995; Keenan & Parikh, 2000, Keenan & Xin, 1999; Sims & Keenan, 1999). Whistleblowing
has been defined as present or former organization members reporting illegal, unethical, or
illegitimate activities under the control of organization leaders to parties who are willing and able
to take action to correct the wrongdoing (Keenan & McLain, 1992).
Whistleblowing can be seen as a positive action (the employee=s attempt to improve the
organization) or a negative action (the employee=s attempt to turn-in the organization). With
either interpretation, the interest in the employee=s tendencies to whistleblow is significant, as
are any characteristics, individual or organizational, which can be used to predict or modify
Multi-national organizations are taking greater interest in whistleblowing. Some have
established special departments for the receipt of whistleblowing reports (Ewing, 1983). Others
have established ethics codes which encourage employees to contact the organization's legal
counsel should they observe or become aware of possible illegal or unethical activities (Mathews,
1987). A study of international codes of conduct for multi-national corporations (MNEs) indicates
substantial agreement on the moral duties of MNEs (Getz, 1990).
Purpose of Study
While a number of organizational and individual factors have been considered within the
study of whistleblowing, a major shortcoming of prior whistleblowing research concerns the fact
that there has been a tendency to examine whistleblowing from a culturally-bound perspective
without looking at cultural and international differences (Keenan & Parikh, 2000, Keenan & Xin,
1999, 1993). One explanation has to due with the fact that the concept of culture has been a
difficult one with respect to agreements on definition, influences on behavior, measurement, and
managerial practices (Adler, 1983; Hofstede, 1991; Kedia & Bhagar, 1988; Kroeber &
Kluckhohn, 1952). Despite such difficulties, the present paper attempts to extend
whistleblowing research into the international arena. This study will consider the differences in
culture between a United States sample of managers and a Philippine sample of managers using
Hofstede=s (1991) theory of International Cultures, and how those cultural differences may help
in our understanding of the differences in whistleblowing tendencies.
Hofstede (1991) theorized that there were four primary dimensions which could
differentiate the cultures of our world. They are classified as power distance, uncertainty
avoidance, individualism, and masculinity. A description of the relationship of each of these
classifications to the organizational environment follows.
Power distance is "the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and
organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally" (Hofstede,
1991, p. 28). It ranges in value from zero, for a culture with a small power distance, to about
100, for a culture with a large power distance. Power distance refers to the degree to which
employees feel comfortable approaching and/or contradicting their supervisors. Organizations
within a large power distance culture centralize power. Employees are given instructions and are
expected to, and in most cases will, comply. The organizational structure is quite tall, with many
layers of management. Any contact between management and employee must be initiated by
management. "Superiors are entitled to privileges" and any visible indication of status increases
their authority (p. 35). In contrast, organizations within a small power distance culture are more
decentralized. Supervisors and employees are considered equal in status. The role a person plays
in the organization (manager for example) can be temporary and is established more for
convenience than an indication of superiority. The organizational structure tends to be flat and
managerial perks are avoided. Employees expect that they will be consulted before decision
making and listened to when they speak.
Uncertainty avoidance is the degree to which employees feel threatened by unknown or
uncertain situations. Uncertainty avoidance is scored from zero, indicating a culture with the
weakest uncertainty avoidance, to 100, indicating a culture with the strongest uncertainty
avoidance. "Uncertainty avoiding cultures shun ambiguous situations. People in such cultures
look for a structure in their organizations . . . which makes events clearly interpretable and
predictable@ (Hofstede, 1991, p. 116). Organizations within a culture with a strong uncertainty
avoidance are more likely to have rules and procedures to govern the environment. Little is left
open to chance or interpretation. These rules, however, may or may not be followed nor do they
have to be logical or consistent. As long as a rule exists, the members of a culture with a strong
uncertainty avoidance are more comfortable, "even ineffective rules satisfy people's emotional
need for formal structure" (p. 121). Conversely, organizations within a culture with a weak
uncertainty avoidance are less likely to establish rules and procedures unless absolutely
necessary. "People in such societies [weak uncertainty avoidance cultures] pride themselves that
many problems can be solved without formal rules" (p. 121). Interestingly, while there are fewer
rules to follow within a culture with a weak uncertainty avoidance classification, these few rules
may be more likely to be followed than the multitude of rules found within a culture with strong
The dimension of individualism refers to the extent to which "the ties between
individuals are loose" (Hofstede, 1991, p. 51). In an individualist culture, everyone is expected
to look out for him/herself and his/her family. At the opposite end of the individualism
dimension is collectivism. Collectivism refers to the extent to which people view themselves as
a small part of a larger group. This dimension ranges from almost zero, indicating a collective
culture, to almost 100, indicating an individualistic culture. From the organizational perspective,
individualism can be described as an employee=s independence from the organization. Those
cultures which score high on this dimension focus on work goals which stress individual
achievements, rather than group achievements.
Employees within an individualistic culture look out for their own interests. "Work
should be organized in such a way that this self-interest and the employer's interest coincide" (p.
63). Managers manage individuals in an individualistic culture and employment decisions are
based upon individual skills. In contrast, in an organization within a collective culture,
employees look out for their in-group. Employee actions are designed to benefit their in-group,
even if the individual him/herself must suffer. In a collective culture, managers manage groups
and employment decisions are based upon group membership and group achievements.
The cultural characteristic of masculinity refers to societies where gender roles are clearly
divided. Men are expected to be "assertive, tough, and focused on material success" (Hofstede,
1991, p. 82). Women are expected to be "modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life"
(p. 82). Societies where gender roles are not clearly divided; that is, men and women can be
tough and/or tender, are classified as feminine. The masculinity index ranges from zero, for
cultures which are feminine, to 100, for cultures which are masculine. An organization within a
feminine culture resolves conflicts by compromise and negotiation. Within this feminine
climate, employees work to live. In a masculine culture however, the organization is more likely
to resolve conflict by letting the conflicting parties fight it out; here, employees live to work.
Hofstede (1991) has classified both the Philippine culture as well as the culture of the
United States of America on each of the four dimensions described above. His research
categorized 50 countries and 3 regions in total. We have used those classifications to compare
the two cultures within our sample.
Comparing Philippine and United States of America Cultures
For the power distance dimension, the Philippines ranked 4 with a score of 94. The
United States ranked 38th, with a score of 40. A rank of one indicates the largest power distance,
and a rank of 53 indicates the smallest power distance. The power distance scores range from
104, for the country/region with the largest power distance; to 11, for the country/region with the
smallest power distance (Hofstede, 1991). Compared to other countries, the Philippines scores
very high while the United States scores moderate on this dimension. Given these kind of
differences, we felt that this was significant and warranted the inclusion of the power distance
dimension in our testing.
For the dimension of uncertainty avoidance, the Philippines ranked 44, with a score of 44.
The United States ranked 43rd, with a score of 46. A rank of one indicates the strongest
uncertainty avoidance and a rank of 53 indicates the weakest uncertainty avoidance. The
uncertainty avoidance scores range from 112, for the country/region with the strongest
uncertainty avoidance; to 8, for the country/region with the weakest uncertainty avoidance. The
Philippines and the United States both scored at the moderate level on the uncertainty avoidance
dimension. Given the lack of significant differences, we felt that this did not warrant including
the uncertainty avoidance dimension in our testing.
For the dimension of individualism, the Philippines ranked 31, with a score of 32. The
United States ranked 1st, with a score of 91. A rank of one indicates the country/region with the
strongest individualism, and a rank of 53 indicates the country/region with the strongest
collectivism. The scores range from a high of 91, for that country/region with the strongest
individualism culture; to a score of 6 for that country/region with the strongest collectivism
(weakest individualism) culture. The United States scored extremely high on the individualism
dimension, actually, the highest of those cultures studied by Hofstede (1991); while the
Philippines scored moderate on the individualism dimension, being more a of a collectivistic
culture. A collectivistic culture tends to emphasize filial piety, mutual obligations, and concern
for the needs of the group before those of oneself. We felt that these kind of differences, as
measured by the individualism dimension, may be significant enough to warrant inclusion in our
For the dimension of masculinity, the Philippines ranked 11/12 (scores that are tied result
in a split ranking) with a score of 64. The United States ranked 15th, with a score of 62. A rank
of one indicates the country/region with the strongest masculine culture, and a rank of 53
indicates a country/region with the strongest feminine culture. The scores range from a high of
95, for that country/region with the strongest masculine culture; to a score of 5 for that
country/region with the strongest feminine culture. The United States ranks on the higher end of
the masculinity dimension compared to Turkey (Hofstede, 1991). We felt that this kind of small
difference between these two cultures, as measured by the masculinity dimension, was not
significant enough to warrant inclusion in our testing.
When attempting to explain or predict whistleblowing, a number of issues are of interest.
To begin with, individual and organizational tendencies to whistleblow may lead to an
increased tendency to whistleblow are important ( Keenan, 2000, 1995, 1990; McLain & Keenan,
1999; Miceli and Near, 1992; Sims and Keenan, 1998). Tendencies to blow the whistle is a
measurement of how positively whistleblowing is considered. That is, whether the individual or
organization considers whistleblowing as the right thing to do. Positive attitudes toward
whistleblowing may help to predict or explain whistleblowing behavior. We propose individual
and organizational tendencies to whistleblow may be influenced by the cultural dimensions of
individualism (the expectation that the individual will look out for him/herself only) and power
distance (the degree to which employees feel comfortable approaching or contradicting
supervisors). Given the differences between the United States and Philippine cultures on the
individualism and power distance dimensions, we have included both in our tests.
The United States sample scored higher than the Philippine sample on the individualism
dimension. We suggest that individuals within a culture scoring low on the individualism
dimension and thus higher on collectivism will tend to display greater degrees of responsibility
and obligation to the needs of the group. They might be thus expected to speak out with respect
to observations of wrongdoing that negatively effected the welfare of the collective whole. On
the other hand, the power distance dimension suggests that the Philippine sample will be less
disposed to both individual and organizational tendencies to whistleblow, because the Philippine
respondents are less likely to challenge the established authority patterns governing their
behavior. Given these two countervailing cultural influences, we expect that there will be no
significant differences between Philippine managers and United States managers with respect to
(a) an individual tendency to whistleblow, and (b) an organizational tendency to whistleblow.
Therefore, the following hypothesis is proposed:
Hypothesis one: There will no significant differences between the United States
managers, compared to Philippine managers, with respect to: (a) individual tendency to
whistleblow, and (b) organizational tendency to whistleblow.
In addition to the importance of individual and organizational tendencies to whistleblow,
the moral perception of wrongdoing may also be important in attempting to predict or explain
whistleblowing. Individual differences in the judgement of the severity of situations may lead to
an increased or decreased tendency to blow the whistleblow. We propose that this moral
perception of ethical behavior may be influenced by the cultural dimensions of individualism (the
expectation that the individual will look out for him/herself only). We suggest that individuals
within a culture scoring high on the individualism dimension will be less likely to perceive an
unethical situation as severe. The individualism dimension suggests that the Philippine sample
will perceive wrongdoing as more severe, because they are more collective, looking out for the
larger group. The following hypothesis is therefore proposed:
Hypothesis two: Philippine managers will have more strongly expressed perception of
wrongdoing than United States managers.
Fear of retaliation may also play a significant role in the tendency to whistleblow. Thus,
the measurement of this fear may be important in the explanation or prediction of
whistleblowing. We propose that the fear of retaliation for whistleblowing may be influenced by
the cultural dimension of power distance. Because the Philippine respondents have a very high
power distance score, they are less likely to challenge the established authority patterns
governing their organizations, will prefer to defer decisions to their bosses, and will tend to fear
reprisal if they spoke out and challenged authority. We thus expect United States managers will
report less fear of retaliation. Thus, we propose:
Hypothesis three: The United States managers will report less fear of retaliation for
whistleblowing than Philippine managers.
The expressed likelihood to whistleblow may be helpful in our understanding and
prediction of whistleblowing (Keenan, 1995). We suggest that expressed likelihood to
whistleblow may be influenced by both the individual and power distance cultural dimensions;
individualism (the expectation that the individual will look out for him/herself only), and power
distance (the degree to which employees feel comfortable approaching or contradicting
supervisors). We suggest that those respondents in a culture scoring high on the power distance
dimension would indicate a decreased tendency to whistleblow. In this type of culture, employees
do not approach supervisors and defer decisions to those in authority position. On the other
hand, the individualism dimension suggests that the Philippine respondents will be more likely to
blow the whistle; because they are more collective, tending to display greater degrees of
responsibility to the welfare and needs of the group.
Given these conflicting cultural dimensions, we therefore propose no differences between
the two groups in likelihood of blowing the whistle The following hypothesis is therefore
Hypothesis four: : There is no significant difference between United States and Philippine
managers in expressed likelihood of blowing the whistle.
The populations for this study were managers in small to mid-size firms in the U.S. and
comparatively larger firms in the Philippines. The U.S. sample consisted of 186 managers.
Their mean age was 45, they had worked in the same firm for an average of nearly 14 years and
they had held their current position for an average of nearly 7 years. On average their companies
employed 119 people. The Philippine sample consisted of 110 managers. They had worked for
their firm for an average of nearly 18 years and had spent 15 years in their current position.
Their companies employed an average of 251 employees. Seventy three percent of U.S.
managers were male compared with 47% of Philippine managers. Descriptive statistics are
presented in table 1. Precautions were taken to ensure confidentiality.
The questionnaire included items which measured managers' opinions and perceptions
about organization practices with respect to whistleblowing. It was a revised version of the U.S.
Merit Systems Protection Board survey questionnaire which was used in a major study of
employee whistleblowing within federal agencies in 1980 (USMSPB,1981). Terminology was
Table 1: Demographic Characteristics Average (std.
Variable (n=110) U.S. (n=186)
Age 46.42 (25.97) 44.74 (14.27)
Job Tenure 15.15 (32.31) 6.74 (14.56)
Organizational tenure 17.65 (30.42) 13.92 (16.39)
Number of Employees 251.2 (376,92) 119.03 (232.51)
Gender - Percentage male 47% 73%
changed to reflect work environments of managers within the private sector. Using a Likert-type
response format, one question concerned issues related to moral perceptions of various kinds of
fraud and harmful behavior. Similar questions concerned issues related to the likelihood one
would report various kinds of wrongdoing, organizational policies and practices, individual
perceptions and attitudes toward whistleblowing, and degree of fear of retaliation or reprisal for
blowing the whistle. The second part of the questionnaire requested information on a variety of
demographic issues including sex, age, education, industry type, organizational size, managerial
level, and years of managerial experience
There was a total of nine scales used in this study. These included scales to measure:
moral perceptions of major fraud (3 items), minor fraud (3 items), and harm to others (3 items);
the degree of likelihood of blowing the whistle on major fraud (3 items), minor fraud (4 items),
and harm to others (3 items); organizational propensity for whistleblowing (3 items); individual
propensity for whistleblowing ( 6 items); and degree of fear of retaliation for whistleblowing (4
items). Each of the scales has been tested and successfully used in previous studies of
whistleblowing (Keenan, 2000, 1999, 1995). The reliability estimates for both the United States
and Singapore samples for each of the nine scales is reported in Table 2. Considering the fact
that the sample size for the current study is quite small, the alpha for all the scales appears to be
Moral Perceptions. Moral perceptions were examined by means of a nine-item scale
which was originally based on responses by managers attending management development
programs over several years about various kinds of incidences commonly faced related to fraud
and illegal behavior. Perceptions of minor fraud, major fraud, and harm to others are each
examined by means of three items. For example, one of the "minor fraud/illegality" items
respondents were asked to rate on a five-point scale ranging from not a fraud/illegality to a very
serious fraud/illegality was: Increasing a travel expense report $25 to cover the cost of drinks.
Your company has a written policy: "Thou shalt not be reimbursed for alcoholic beverages." An
example of a "harm to others" item was: Discriminating against another because of sex, race, age,
or religion. Lastly, an example of a "serious fraud/illegality" item was: Arranging for
subordinates to get paid for overtime not worked in exchange for 35% of overtime pay.
Likelihood of Blowing the Whistle. This scale includes ten items measuring the
following three factors: "Likelihood of Reporting Major Fraud," "Likelihood of Reporting Minor
Fraud," and "Likelihood of Reporting Harm to Others." Using a Likert-type format, respondents
were asked to indicate the degree to which they would be likely to report activities such as
stealing company funds or property, bribery or kickbacks, using an official position for personal
benefits, giving unfair advantage to contractors or vendors, and reporting waste caused by buying
unnecessary or deficient goods or services.
Personal Propensity. This five-item scale used a Likert-type format. Questions included
items asking respondents to indicate the degree that they approved such behaviors as blowing the
whistle on illegal and wasteful activities, felt personally obliged to blow the whistle if they
observed wrongdoing, and perceived that whistleblowing was in the best interest of the
Organization Propensity. This three-item scale used a similar Likert-type format.
Respondents were asked to indicate the degree that they perceived their organizations as
encouraging blowing the whistle on wrongdoing as well as providing sufficient information on
where to blow the whistle.
Retaliation. This scale included four items. First, respondents indicated the degree of
adequacy of protection their company offers to employees reporting illegal or wasteful activities.
Two other questions concerned degree of confidence that one's supervisor and those above one's
supervisor would not take action against the respondent if they were to report illegal or wasteful
activities within organization operations. A final question asked whether it was possible for the
respondent's organization to effectively protect from reprisal an employee who discloses illegal
or wasteful activities.
Table 2 presents means, standard deviations, and zero-order correlations for variables
explored for both Philippine and United States sample groups. Descriptive statistics for all study
variables are also displayed. A two-tailed t-test was conducted on the US and Philippine samples
to examine the differences between these two groups.
Hypothesis 1 proposed that there would be no differences between the United States
managers, compared to Philippine managers, with respect to both individual and organizational
tendency to whistleblow. The results do not support this hypothesis indicating that Philippine
managers have a significantly stronger individual tendency to whistleblow (t = -2.36 , p > 0.05),
as well as a stronger organizational tendency to whistleblow (t = -3.64, p > 0.05).
Table 2: Descriptive Statistics and t-tests
Variable (n=110) U. S. (n=186) value
Mean s.d.Alpha Mean s.d. Alpha
Individual propensity 4.63 0 .61 0.84 4.46 0.61 0.78 -2.36*
Organizational propensity 4.30 0.59 0.28 4.01 0.70 0.66 -3.64*
Moral perceptions -
Against major fraud 4.31 1.17 0.76 4.31 0.79 0.31 0.22
Against minor fraud 3.84 1.20 0.85 3.22 0.80 0.69 -5.29*
Against harm to others 4.33 1.24 0.85 4.55 0.84 0.88 1.83
Fear of retaliation 2.47 1.11 0.82 2.26 0.78 0.70 -1.93*
Likelihood to whistle blow
Major fraud 4.53 1.15 0.94 4.69 0.52 0.71 1.66
Minor fraud 4.12 1.05 0.88 3.78 0.82 0.80 -3.11*
Harm to others 4.27 1.14 0.90 4.57 0.72 0.79 2.79*
* p < .05
Hypothesis 2 proposed that Philippine managers will have more strongly expressed
perception of wrongdoing than United States managers. The results partially support this
hypothesis. For one of the three measures of moral perception (minor fraud), the Philippine
managers reported significantly higher scores than the United States managers (t = -5.29, p <
0.05). For the other two measures (major fraud and harm to others), there were no differences
between the two cultures.
Hypothesis 3 proposed that the United States managers will report less fear of retaliation
for whistleblowing than Philippine managers. The results support this hypothesis (t = -1.93, p >
Hypothesis 4 proposed that there would be no significant difference between United
States and Philippine managers in expressed likelihood of blowing the whistle. The results
partially support this hypothesis. There was not significant difference between US managers and
Philippine managers with respect to likelihood to blow the whistle on major fraud. On the other
hand, there were significant differences between the groups on the other two variables. For
example, Philippine managers, compared to their United States counterparts, were much more
likely to blow the whistle on minor fraud (t = -3.11, p < 0.05). On the other hand, United States
managers were more likely to blow the whistle on harm to others ( t= 2.79, p < 0.051).
Our findings for hypothesis one, do not support our proposition that there would be no
significant differences between the U.S. and Philippine respondents with respect to both
individual and organizational tendencies to whistleblow. The Hofstede’s individualism
dimension suggests that the Philippine sample would be more disposed to both individual and
organizational tendencies to whistleblow. Cultures scoring low in the individualism dimension
are classified as collective. Organizations within a collective culture support the individual as a
small part of a larger group and would therefore encourage behavior that acts in support of the
interests and needs of the group, inclusive of whistleblowing. The Philippine sample scored low
on the individualism dimension, because they are more collective, deferring to authority and the
On the other hand, the power distance dimension suggests that the Philippine sample will
be less disposed to both individual and organizational tendencies to whistleblow; because the
Philippine respondents are less likely to speak up to their supervisors and challenge the
established authority patterns governing their behavior. Given these countervailing dispositions,
it was expected that there would be no differences between the two groups. Apparently, there is
a stronger tendency in the Philippine culture on the part of responsibility felt to the welfare of the
collective whole that outweighed power distance tendencies on both individual and
organizational tendencies to whistleblow.
When testing hypothesis two, our results indicated that the Philippine sample expressed
more severe perceptions for wrongdoing classified as minor, less serious forms of fraud, but not
with respect to major fraud or harm to others forms of wrongdoing. These results might relate
to the collectivistic quality of the Philippine culture. Unlike the United States, which has a
strong individualistic culture that supports an expectation that the individual will look out for
him/herself only, the Philippine culture emphasis looking out for the welfare of the collective
whole first. Thus there might be a tendency to feel that wrongdoings, even of a less serious
nature, are cause for concern since they are seen as violating the welfare and well-being of the
Another possible factor related to this is the dimension of short versus long term
orientation. Philippine culture tends to be short-termist whereas the United States culture might
be viewed as comparatively more long-termist. In short-term orientations, individuals are
expected to keep “face”, respect tradition, and reciprocate for gifts, favors, and greetings. When
violations of a less serious order occur, the Philippine managers feel more strongly about the
perceived negative outcomes experienced by violating these understandings and traditions of
reciprocation and concern for the welfare of the group.
Hypothesis three proposed that there would be significant differences between the United
States sample and the Philippine sample on expressed fear of retaliation for whistleblowing.
This expectation of differences was based upon the cultural dimension of power distance.
Because the Philippine respondents have a very high power distance score, they are less likely to
challenge the established authority patterns governing their organizations, will prefer to defer
decisions to their bosses, and will tend to fear reprisal if they spoke out and challenged authority.
Our results support this expectation.
We tested expressed likelihood to whistleblow in hypothesis four. Expressed likelihood
was measured for major fraud, minor fraud, and harm to others. We proposed that there would
be no significant differences between the United States sample and the Philippine sample for
expressed likelihood to whistleblow. This expectation was based upon the countervailing
cultural dimensions of individualism and power distance. The individualism dimension suggests
that the Philippine respondents will be more likely to blow the whistle because they are more
disposed to be concerned with the welfare of the collective whole rather than their own personal
needs. Yet the power distance dimension suggests that the Philippine sample will be less likely
to blow the whistle than the United States sample because they tend to defer to those in authority
positions, tend not to approach their supervisors, and hesitate to take actions themselves
Our findings indicate the Philippine managers feel more comfortable in speaking out
about minor, less serious forms of wrongdoing than their American counterparts. Thus the
cultural dimension of collectivism appears to have more strongly effected them to whistleblow
against minor wrongdoing than the power distance dimension. On the other hand, the United
States manager’s greater likelihood to blow the whistle on harm to others wrongdoing, perhaps is
indicative of American’s concern with human rights and workplace safety.
Limitations and Implications For the Study
Hofstede=s (1991) theory provides a framework for uncovering cultural differences
between groups which may help explain and predict managerial whistleblowing behavior. While
this theory cannot explain all differences between two cultures, the theory does never-the-less
We recognize that the direct measurement of actual whistleblowing behavior may be the
best way to understand or explain whistleblowing tendencies; however this is often not realistic
in social science research. In addition, waiting for a behavior to occur does little for any
predictive benefit which might be gained from advanced knowledge. Asking respondents how
they would respond in a given situation is commonly used as a poor (but never-the-less
measurable in advanced) substitute.
Age, education level, position level, organizational tenure, gender, and religious
preference have all been linked to whistleblowing tendencies (Graham, 1986; Keenan, 1990;
Miceli & Near, 1988; Sims & Keenan, 1999). Given the potential influences on whistleblowing
tendencies by demographic characteristics, samples need to be better matched on these
characteristics in future studies of Philippine and United States managers.
Lastly, as Philippine and United States companies become increasingly diverse, more
research attention is clearly warranted on studying whistleblowing across cultures and across
nations. We recommend future cross-cultural research on ethical decision making, and hope that
other researchers will gain from our attempt at linking international cultural theory and
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