The WWTW2 Project

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Whistling While They Work 2: Improving managerial responses to whistleblowing in public and private sector organisations is supported by an Australian Research Council funded Linkage Project (LP150100386)*.

Led by Professor A J Brown of the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University, the project has a 10-person  research team drawn from four universities and five of our partner organisations across Australia and New Zealand. It is a three-year, AUD$1.6 million project, funded approximately 60 per cent by the participating universities (32%) and the Australian Research Council (28%), and 40 per cent by 15 partner and supporter organisations (13% direct support, 27% in kind support).

The project builds on its predecessor Australian Research Council project (Whistling While They Work 1) by extending systematic research to also focus on the next crucial issue: adequacy of organisational responses to whistleblowing. By comparing employee and managerial experience in multiple organisations, in Australia and New Zealand, the project is identifying the factors that influence good and bad responses to whistleblowing across a wide range of institutions, providing a clearer basis for evaluation and improvement in organisational procedures, better public policy, and more informed approaches to the reform or introduction of whistleblower protection laws.

It is also the first research project to systematically compare the levels, responses and outcomes of whistleblowing in multiple organisations:

  • Across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors; and
  • Across international boundaries.

Any organisation with more than 10 employees, based or with significant operations in Australia or New Zealand, is invited to participate in our research.

There are two phases to the research:

 

Survey of Organisational Processes and Procedures

This threshold survey collects information about key processes and procedures for facilitating and managing internal allegations, reports or concerns about wrongdoing in your organisation. The survey aims to gather a comprehensive snapshot of the most common elements of whistleblowing processes and provides baseline information for evaluation.

Although many organisations have policies, procedures and processes (formal and informal) for encouraging and managing internal reports of wrongdoing, little is known about current best practice across different sectors and jurisdictions. For example, there is no current Australian or New Zealand Standard on the topic.

The first round of this survey was open in 2016. Over 700 organisations participated and provided a comprehensive snapshot of the most common elements of current whistleblowing procedures and practises, providing baseline information for comparisons and the more detailed survey – Integrity@WERQ.

The results and insights gathered from this first round of data collection can be found in this report. 

The Survey of Organisational Processes and Procedures will open again in 2017 and is the first step, to give your organisation a snapshot of how your processes for responding to staff wrongdoing concerns are working and compare with hundreds of other organisations – providing specific answers to important integrity issues within organisations.

Our analyses use 10 survey items to measure key elements that we know make the difference between weaker, average, and stronger processes. These will allow you to assess issues such as:

  • Are advice and/or training provided proactively to staff, or only reactively?
  • How ready are you to track, manage and respond to concerns, if raised?
  • Are processes in place for anticipating detrimental impacts for staff who speak up, and for stepping up the support and solutions needed to meet these challenges?

The survey also enables registration of organisations’ interest to participate in Integrity@WERQ – the second and major phase of the research.

 

 

* Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP150100386: ‘Protecting While They Prosper? Organisational Responses to Whistleblowing’.

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How does your organisation compare?

Proportions of staff who responded that they spoke up, or did nothing, after observing serious wrongdoing in nine of the 118 organisations surveyed in Whistling While They Work 1 (Source: Brown 2008, p.49).

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