Some cross-cultural evidence on whistle-blowing as an internal control mechanism

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In this paper, I report on the results of an empirical examination of cultural influences on professional judgments of Australian, Indian, and Chinese-Malaysian accountants in relation to whistle-blowing as an internal control mechanism. Australia serves as a proxy for the Anglo-American cluster of countries comprising the U.S., U.K., and Canada, while India and Malaysia represent the Asian-Indian and Chinese clusters, respectively. I draw on cultural characteristics and differences among these societies to formulate hypotheses that Australian professional accountants are both more likely and more accepting of engaging in whistle-blowing as an internal control mechanism than Chinese-Malaysian and Indian professional accountants. Data were gathered through a survey questionnaire administered to samples of senior professional accountants from Big 6 (at the time of data collection) firms in Australia, India, and Malaysia. The questionnaire comprised two whistle-blowing scenarios, and used both single-attribute and multidimensional attribute measures of professional judgment. The results support my hypotheses about differences in Australian compared to Indian and Chinese-Malaysian professional judgments. Additionally, the results support my expectation that multidimensional attribute measures would have greater explanatory power than single-attribute measures, and would provide insight into complex elements involved in ethical and professional judgments in cross-cultural settings. My findings from this study have implications for the management of local and multinational enterprises. Enterprises that aim to improve effectiveness in their control systems or achieve similar levels of reliability across divisions in various countries need to implement control systems that are compatible with cultural values. Specifically, the results suggest that compared to Indian and Chinese cultures, whistle-blowing as an internal control mechanism is likely to be more effective in Australian culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-96
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of International Accounting Research
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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