Whistling While They Work 2: Improving managerial responses to whistleblowing in public and private sector organisations was an Australian Research Council Linkage Project (LP150100386)*.
- Led by Professor A J Brown of the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University, the project’s 10-person research team was drawn from four universities and five of our partner organisations across Australia and New Zealand. A three-year, AUD$1.6 million project, it was funded approx. 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 built on its predecessor Australian Research Council project (Whistling While They Work 1) by extending systematic research to focus on the adequacy of organisational responses to whistleblowing. By comparing employee and managerial experience in multiple organisations, in Australia and New Zealand, we identified 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 was 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.
There were 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 concerns about wrongdoing in any organisation. The survey gathers a snapshot of the most common elements of whistleblowing processes and provides baseline information for evaluation.
Although many organisations have policies, procedures and processes for encouraging and managing internal reports of wrongdoing, little was known about best practice across different sectors and jurisdictions.
The first round of the survey was conducted in 2016, including 702 organisations across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and New Zealand. It provided a comprehensive snapshot of the most common elements of current whistleblowing procedures and practises, and a baseline for comparison.
Evidence of strong efforts of many organisations included 89% of respondent organisations indicating they had formal, written whistleblowing procedures or policies. However gaps were evident – for example, 49% of businesses and 51% of not-for-profit organisations (38% of all organisations) indicated they did not assess the risks of detrimental impacts that staff might experience from raising wrongdoing concerns, either at all or until problems began to arise.
Results can be found in this report.
Our analyses use 10 survey items to measure key elements that we know make the difference between weaker, average, and stronger processes. These allow any organisation 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?
For assistance in assessing the comprehensiveness of your own Organisational Whistleblowing Processes and Procedures, please contact us.