Volume 13, 2016
William F. Miller, Tara J. Shawver
The Potential Impact of Education on Whistleblowing Behavior
Benefits of an Intervention in Advanced Financial Accounting
Accounting fraud and workplace misconduct has had dramatic economic and societal effects. Research suggests that most observations of workplace misconduct go unreported. We suggest that before graduating from an accounting program, students should be exposed to ethics interventions that prepare them to deal with whistleblowing situations they may encounter as future accounting professionals. This study finds that an ethics intervention increases students’ understanding of how accountants have manipulated information to complete an accounting fraud and increases their understanding of whistleblowing, its consequences, and protections for whistleblowers under the Sarbanes Oxley Act. Further, this study finds that an ethics intervention not only increases the students’ level of ethical sensitivity and judgment, but also positively impacts the likelihood that an accounting student would intend to blow the whistle for situations involving accounting manipulations. This study also provides empirical evidence that analyzing cases and participating in class discussions are effective ways of meeting specific course goals related to whistleblowing.