Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Alisa Brink

Second Advisor

Benson Wier

Third Advisor

Fengchun Tang

Fourth Advisor

Christopher Kevin Eller

Fifth Advisor

Mayoor Mohan


This dissertation consists of three studies. The first study provides a review and synthesis of past accounting research regarding factors that influence whistleblowing. The second study is a content analysis to examine the variation of organizations’ internal whistleblowing policy, including both the content characteristics of the policy and the linguistic characteristics of the policy. In terms of the content characteristics of the whistleblowing policy, this study focuses on who is covered in the policy, where to report, employees’ responsibility, corporate investigation procedures, disciplinary action against the wrongdoer, and anti-retaliation policy. In terms of the linguistic characteristics of the internal whistleblowing policy, this study focuses on the types of pronouns, the language uncertainty of the policy, and the tone of the policy (positive or negative). Furthermore, the overlaps between the content characteristics and the linguistic characteristics are also identified.

The third study is a 2 by 2 between-subjects experiment to investigate the best design of companies’ internal whistleblowing policy. By breaking the internal whistleblowing policy into the reporting policy (responsibility to report and reporting channel) and the anti-retaliation policy (protection against retaliation), the experiment manipulates the type of pronouns for the reporting policy (first-person pronoun reporting policy or third-person pronoun reporting policy) and type of pronouns for the anti-retaliation policy (first-person pronoun anti-retaliation policy or third-person pronoun anti-retaliation policy). Results suggest that first-person reporting policy is better than third-person reporting policy at encouraging reporting unethical behaviors and this is mediated by the language vividness effect.


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Accounting Commons