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Issues in Educational Research, 2015, Vol 25(4), 517-534
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Relating teachers' whistleblowing tendency and personal features: Machiavellianism, religiosity, and utilitarianism

Asiye Toker Gökçe
Kocaeli University, Turkey

This study examines relationships between religiosity and value orientation of teachers, and preference for whistleblowing modes. Three hypotheses were developed, and tested related to the relationships between utilitarianism, religiosity, Machiavellianism and preference for various forms of whistleblowing. To analyse the data obtained from a sample of 271 teachers in Turkey, descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation test, and regression analysis were used. According to the results, teachers prefer internal and identified whistleblowing. Religiosity affects teachers' preference for internal reporting in a positive way, while Machiavellianism and utilitarianism do not. No relationship was found between the teachers' values and preference for modes of whistleblowing. Examining religiosity, ethical ideology and whistleblowing in an education context in Turkey, this study contributes an Islamic perspective to the literature concerning whistleblowing.


Organisational wrongdoings cost organisations billions of dollars, and damage the image of corporations each year (Bass, Barnett & Brown, 1999). Employees can prevent the incidence of wrongdoings in organisations by whistleblowing responses to these kinds of wrongdoings (Miceli & Near, 2005). Whistleblowing means reporting about wrongdoings in organisations, resulting in harm to third parties. It is an effective corporate governance mechanism against organisational wrongdoings (Jubb, 1999; Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, 2010). Researchers (see Miceli et al. 2001; Near, Rehg, van Scotter & Miceli 2004) have shown a long-standing interest in the subject, and investigated how whistleblowing is related to demographic features and decision-making processes of individuals. Numerous factors affect an individual's ethical decision-making, including individual factors, organisational factors, and situational factors (Woiceshyn, 2011). Of the individual factors, gender, ethical philosophy (such as relativism), and religion most consistently showed a direct effect on ethical decision-making (Woiceshyn, 2011). Ford and Richardson (1994) argued that individual beliefs help us to predict ethical attitudes and behaviour. They mentioned nationality and religion as the personal originations of individual beliefs that influence ethical belief and decision-making (Cohen, Pant & Sharp, 1992; Ford and Richardson, 1994).

There have been numerous studies examining factors affecting ethical decision-making and whistleblowing. For example, Trevino and Victor (1992) investigated the influence of having responsibility and group interest to peer reporting decisions, while Barnett, Bass and Brown (1996) found an association between religiosity and relativism, emphasising the relationship between ethical ideologies and ethical judgments of individuals. Brabeck (1984), Miceli, Near and Dworkin (2009), and Greene and Latting (2004) pointed out the connection between utilitarianism and whistleblowing. Woiceshyn (2011) confirmed the effect of gender, ethical philosophy, and religion on Rest's ethical decision-making model. Further, Singhapakdi and Vitell (1990; 1991) explored the relationship between Machiavellianism and ethical decision-making. They suggested that high Machiavellian marketers tended to perceive ethical problems as less serious than low ones.

Whistleblowing is perceived negatively in Turkey. According to the Global Corruption Barometer 2010/11, 33% of people reported payment of a bribe, and many of the victims of bribery did not report formally because they scared of potential harassment in Turkey (Transparency International, 2011). Since whistleblowing researches have been carried out mostly in the US, authors (e.g. Park, et al. 2005) have stressed the need for investigating it further in non-Western cultures. Few studies have examined whistleblowing in Turkey. Park et al (2008) found significant variations related to nationality and cultural orientation among university students from South Korea, Turkey, and the U.K. They recommended that future researchers study further the connection between cultural orientation and preference for whistleblowing modes. Nayir and Herzig (2012) found that besides cultural differences, ethical differences (being idealist or relativist) also influence decision-making for whistleblowing. Therefore, they emphasised the importance of studying whistleblowing from an individual view instead of from a national one. Hence, there is a need for studying whistleblowing from different perspectives such as cultural and ethical values.

As seen above, whistleblowing is related primarily to an individual's decision-making processes, which are influenced by being religious, by ethical values such as being utilitarian, and by personality traits such as being Machiavellian. Therefore, this study builds upon the aforementioned works, and aims to examine the relationship between Turkish teachers' preferences for specific whistleblowing modes and three concepts of individual value orientations: religiosity, Machiavellianism, and utilitarianism. This paper is believed to contribute to the literature by examining the relationship between whistleblowing and Machiavellianism, religiosity and utilitarianism in an education sector context.


Whistleblowing is described as the disclosure by organisation members of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organisations that may be able to effect action (Near at al., 1993). Whistleblowers are those who disclose information about something they believe to be harmful to the public's interest or an individual's welfare, occurring in business or in government, to authorities within the organisation, to outside agencies or to the media (Elliston, 1982; Vinten, 1996; Near et al., 2004; Archer, 2005). According to Greene and Latting (2004), whistleblowers (1) are altruistic and they act for the benefits of those being wronged; (2) are utilitarian, and have a high level of moral development; (3) do not need to adapt themselves and behave to follow a specific situation; (4) do not lie to cover up; (5) are well educated, and keep well-documented records of wrongdoings they perceive.

Whistleblowers firstly need to notice wrongful practices in their organisation, and secondly be motivated by the desire to prevent unnecessary harm to others. Then giving information to authorities about the wrongful practices follows (Groeneweg, 2001). Therefore, observers of a wrongdoing need make a decision whether to disclose it to the authorities to prevent unnecessary harm to others, or not disclose. An individual's decision or moral reasoning to disclose a wrongdoing is based on personal, situational and organisational factors (Jubb, 1999; Near et al., 2004; Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, 2010). Personal factors involve gender, moral standards (Brabeck, 1984; Fritzsche & Becker, 1984; Miceli et al., 1991), and religion (Woiceshyn, 2011).

Park et al. (2008) proposed a typology of whistleblowing characterising individuals' choice for whistleblowing: formally or informally, internally or externally, and self-identified or anonymous. Whistleblowing internally refers to the reporting of wrongdoing to someone within the organisation, who can correct the wrongdoing, and this type of reporting might bypass the normal managerial hierarchy. Whistleblowing externally indicates reporting to others, such as media organisations. Internal reporting offers an opportunity to managers to deal with the case without outside pressure, while external reporting causes a serious issue between managers and employee. Identified whistleblowing comes when a whistleblower uses his/her real name, or information about him/herself, while anonymous whistleblowing indicates using a nickname, or giving no information about one's identity when whistleblowing (Elliston, 1982; Vinten, 1996; Near et al. 2004; Park et al., 2008).

Whistleblowing intention, value orientation and personal trait

As noted earlier, various personal characteristics have been investigated as factors influencing ethical behaviour. Scholars have argued that that moral reasoning influences an individual's decision-making process for whistleblowing, and suggested Rest's model to examine the actual decision process (Brabeck, 1984; Miceli et al., 1991; Chan & Leung, 2006). The Rest's model identifies four steps in ethical decision-making processes: (1) identifying the moral issue, (2) making a moral judgment, (3) establishing moral intent, and (4) engaging in moral action (Rogojan, 2009; Woiceshyn, 2011).

According to the Rest's model (as cited in Cohen, et al. 2001, p.321), noticing wrongful practices and evaluating ethical dilemmas correctly is a primary condition for good ethical decision-making. Scholars (e.g. McDevitt & Van Hise, 2002; Tavakoli et al., 2003; Near et al., 2004) have tested the model empirically, evaluating individuals' materiality levels in ethical dilemmas. For example, O'Fallon and Butterfield (2005) found that idealism and deontology are positively related to the ethical decision-making process, whereas relativism and teleology are negatively related. In addition, Brabeck (1984) and Miceli et al. (2009) claimed that whistleblowers are utilitarian, and they act by their sense of unity and social responsibility for whistleblowing, even when they are under strict pressure to keep silent. Reidenback and Robin (1990), Cohen et al. (1993, 2001) and Cruz et al. (2000) examined ethical judgments with philosophical values through the Multi-dimensional Ethics Scale (MES). Nayir and Herzig (2012) examined the relationship between ethical philosophies and whistleblowing by using the Ethics Position Questionnaire.

Singhapakdi and Vitell (1990, 1991) explored the relationship between Machiavellianism and ethical decision-making. They suggested that high Machiavellian marketers tend to perceive ethical problems as less serious than low ones. Besides, Vitell (2003) emphasised the confirmation that less Machiavellian consumers were found to be more ethical. Further, Hunt and Vitell (2006) argued that Machiavellianism is a personality trait associated with an unethical leadership style. Therefore, numerous studies have investigated the impact of Machiavellianism on individuals' ethical perceptions, especially in marketing. They concluded that the higher the individual's Machiavellianism tendencies, the less likely that an individual will perceive unethical or questionable actions negatively (Lau, 2010). Lau (2010) found that Machiavellianism influenced consumers' ethical beliefs, but not as much as idealistic ideology did.

There have been studies (e.g. Nayir & Herzig, 2012; Toker Gökçe, 2013a) examining the relationship between whistleblowing and value orientation. These studies examined idealism and relativism with whistleblowing. As aforementioned authors pointed out the impact of Machiavellianism and utilitarianism on individuals' ethical perceptions, there is a need to examine the connection between Machiavellianism, and utilitarianism and whistleblowing.

Whistleblowing intention and religious orientation

Religiousness is the personal practice of religion (Allport, 1967 as cited in Singhapakdi, et al., 2000, p.308), while religiosity is defined in terms of three distinct components: knowing, feeling, and doing. 'Knowing' means religious knowledge and beliefs; 'feeling' refers to emotional attachment or emotional feelings about religion; and 'doing' is related to church affiliation and attendance, Bible reading, and praying (Barnett, et al., 1996).

Hunt and Vitell (1993, as cited in Singhapakdi, et al., 2000) claimed that religiousness can affect the ethical decision making process in three ways: as a part of the cultural environment, as a personal characteristic, and as a dominant basis for individual deontological norms. Therefore, both deontological and teleological theories must be taken into account in decision-making. Barnett et al. (1996) found that religiosity was positively associated with an ethical ideology of non-relativism; and individuals whose ethical ideologies could be described as idealistic were more likely to report the wrongdoing of peers. Further, Singhapakdi, et al., (2000) argued that highly religious people tend to criticise unethical behaviours more negatively than less religious people do, because they regard such behaviours as sinful. In addition, their study found that religiosity was a significant predictor for half of their scenarios tested, while it was not for the other half of the test scenarios. Similarly, O'Fallon and Butterfield (2005) proposed that there is a positive relationship between religion and ethical decision-making, because religious individuals are being inclined to be more ethical. In addition, Woiceshyn (2011) emphasised religiosity as a personal characteristic having a consistent direct effect on ethical decision-making.

Whistleblowers have experienced retaliation for years in Turkey. There has been much news about teachers who disclosed wrongdoings such as sexual abuse, stealing school funds, or bribery at schools, but were punished in Turkish media for their disclosures (e.g. DHA, 2012; Milliyet, 2013). Toker Gökçe (2013b) found that teachers observed peculation, violation of laws, and stealing at schools. The study revealed that male teachers whistleblow more than female teachers.

Teachers need to be skilled in awareness and evaluation of wrongdoings at schools. Whether teachers can evaluate ethical cases without the effect of their philosophical values and their beliefs, in line with the other factors, is one of the important issues in education. Therefore, studying the influence of religion and ethical philosophy, to explore the teachers' ethical decision-making process, is crucial to enhancing the quality of education and solving educational problems related to ethical situations and wrongdoings at schools.


Religiosity as determinants of whistleblowing mode choice

Teachers may face widely different ethical cases at schools and they are expected to be competent in dealing with these. However, cases can involve issues interpreted from different philosophical perspectives, including stages of moral development and dimensions of moral judgment, including philosophical values (Cohen, et al. 2001). O'Fallon and Butterfield (2005) argued that in general, individual behaviours are affected by major social institutions such as religion and religious institutions. Cohen, et al. (1992) and Ford and Richardson (1994) suggested that nationality and religion influence an individual's ethical belief and decision-making, and individual beliefs help us to predict individuals' ethical attitudes and behaviours. Hunt and Vitell (as cited in Vitell et al., 1993) in their decision-making model included religion as both a cultural and a personal factor related to individual decision-making. In addition, Barnet et al. (1996) suggested that religious commitment influences an individual's ethical ideology, and that religious people believe strongly in universal moral principles. In their model they hypothesised a positive relationship between religiosity and idealism, and a negative relationship between religiosity and relativism, introducing the relationship between religiosity and ethical ideology. While they could not find evidence confirming a positive relationship between religiosity and idealism, their work was considered a prominent investigation of the direct effect of religiosity on moral ideology. Besides Narvaez et al. (1999) argued that religious fundamentalism and moral judgment were significantly inter-correlated. They indicated that when an individual was reinforced with religious fundamentalism, the strong religious authority would be transferred to strong respect for civil authorities (e.g., school principals, or judges). Consistent with this argument, Park et al (2005) studied the relationships between whistleblowing intentions and the cultural traits of Confucian ethics in Korea. They concluded that Confucian ethics as a philosophical or religious system affected decision-making for whistleblowing.

H1: Religiosity is positively associated with modes of whistleblowing.

Utilitarianism as a determinant of whistleblowing mode choice

As mentioned above, Brabeck (1984), Miceli et al. (2009) and Greene and Latting (2004) identified whistleblowers as utilitarian, and possessing a high level of moral development. Whistleblowing is one type of political behaviour (Dozier & Miceli, 1985). Farrell and Petersen (1982, as cited in Dozier & Miceli, 1985, p.828) framed three types of normative ethics that individuals might use to decide if they should take political action: (a) utilitarian theories of ethics; (b) theories of rights; and (c) theories of justice, and these should be incorporated in the choice of 'political behavior alternatives' in an organisation.

In a review of the philosophy of moral literature, Reidenbach and Robin (1988, as cited in Cohen et al, 1993) developed the Multi-dimensional Ethics Scale (MES) relevant to ethical decisions; one of the five domains is 'utilitarianism' involving acting in a manner that will provide the greatest good for the greatest number (McMahon & Harvey, 2007). Cohen et al (1993) added utilitarian construct to the MES as important for ethical decision-making.

Utilitarianism emphasises creating the maximum benefits for the masses of people, while causing the least amount of damages. Utilitarians do social cost-benefit analysis, and deal with the results of that analysis. If the social cost-benefit analysis results positively, then the act is considered morally acceptable (Thong & Yap, 1998). According to John Stuart Mill (1863), actions are right insofar as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. Mill (as cited in Jenkins, 2003, p.98) focused on qualitative pleasures, and developed a system of 'higher' and 'lower' pleasures. The system prefers the higher pleasures (mind/intellect) to the lower ones (physical pleasures). Toker Gökçe (2013b) confirmed the influence of utilitarianism on prospective teachers' ethical evaluation for whistleblowing.

H2: Utilitarianism is positively associated with modes of whistleblowing

Machiavellianism as a determinant of whistleblowing mode choice

According to Tang and Chen (2008), Machiavellianism is based on manipulation, expediency, deviousness and exploitation, and is devoid of the traditional virtues of honour, decency and trust. Machiavellian-motivated ends could be self-interest or the well-being of a community or a nation (Bass et al, 1999), and the words 'ethical, unethical' are absent from the definition of Machiavellianism (Tang & Chen, 2008). Lau (2010) described the Machiavellian as behaving in a manipulative and aggressive way, or deviously to achieve personal or organisational objectives. Machiavellian regards others' needs, feelings or rights as a secondary consideration. The behaviours associated with being a moral person, such as showing concern for people, trustworthiness and integrity, following ethical decision rules, and being open are contradictory with the behaviours of high Machiavellians (Dahling et al. 2009). Hegarty and Sims (1979, as cited in Ford & Richardson, 2013, p.28) found that Machiavellianism explained significant variance in ethical behaviour. Consistent with this argument, Singhapakdi and Vitell (1990) found that Machiavellian managers perceive ethical problems as less serious than others do. Rushton et al. (1981) studied the relationship between the Self-Report Altruism scale and prosocial values of university students, and they found a negative correlation with the scale and Machiavellianism. Further, O'Fallon and Butterfield (2005) reviewed the empirical literature on ethical decision-making between 1996 and 2003 and found that Machiavellianism was negatively associated with ethical decision-making.

Staub (1974, as cited by Dozier & Miceli, 1985) identified Machiavellianism as a dispositional determinant of prosocial behaviour, and Dozier and Miceli (1985) suggested that whistleblowing can be viewed as prosocial behaviour, because it generally will benefit persons or organisations other than the whistleblower. H3: Machiavellianism is negatively associated with the modes of whistleblowing.



The research sample comprised 271 Turkish teachers working in public primary and secondary schools in the Marmara region of Turkey, who participated voluntarily in this study during 2012 after random sampling. Of the 271 teachers more than half (62%) were female, while 38% were males. More than half of the participants (62%) were between 25-34 years old, while 26% were between 35-44 years old, and 12% were more than 44 years old. More than half of the participants (58%) had less than 11 years work experience, while 22% had between 11-15 years work experience, and 20% had more than 15 years work experience. Finally, most of the participants (86%) held a four-year undergraduate degree. All of the participants were Turkish and Muslims.


Reidenbach and Robin (1990) constructed the MES with five domains of philosophies: egoism, utilitarianism, justice, relativism, and deontology. The author was inspired by their work to develop the study questionnaire based on the literature (Park et al. 2008; Allport & Ross, 1967, as cited by Burris, 1999; and Dahling et al. 2009), lengthy and repeated feedback from the subjects, and factor analysis. The instrument consisted of four sub-scales: (1) modes of whistleblowing; (2) religiosity (3) Machiavellianism, and (4) utilitarianism. In addition, personal information (gender, age and work tenure) was sought at the beginning of the questionnaire. All sub-scales ranged from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). The participants were given definitions of wrongdoings at schools and whistleblowing at the beginning of the questionnaire.

Participants' preferences toward the four ways of reporting when they observed a wrongdoing was investigated by 8-item sub-scale, developed by utilising the scale developed by Park et al. (2008), and already been translated into Turkish by Toker Gökçe (2013a). The reliability analysis performed with the sub-scale showed Cronbach's alpha for the internal whistleblowing dimension was .50, and .67 for the anonymous whistleblowing dimension, similar to the results of Park et al. (2008). Cronbach's alpha for the identified whistleblowing dimension was .78, higher than the results of Park et al. (2008). Although below .70 is not an accepted value for reliability analysis, Park et al. (2008) performed their analysis, accepting even .51 alpha value in their research, because the scale was a questionnaire. Therefore, the internal whistleblowing dimension was not excluded, while the external whistleblowing dimension was dropped out from the scale after the reliability analysis, because the Cronbach's alpha value for the item had a low loading (below 0.5) (Table 1). This finding might be in line with the results by Nayir and Herzig (2012), who included the items about the external whistleblowing in the anonymous whistleblowing dimension, as their study revealed a strong relationship between external and anonymous whistleblowing.

The second sub-scale was developed to measure the religious orientation of the participants. This part of the questionnaire, with 18 items, was created utilising the Religious Orientation Scale (ROS) by Allport and Ross (1967, cited by Burris, 1999), modified for a Turkish cultural context. The ROS originally involved two sub-scales with 21 items: 12 for the extrinsic sub-scale, and nine for the intrinsic sub-scale. The scale was translated into Turkish by Kayıklık (2000). Allport (1967, as cited in Burris, 1999) described the extrinsic orientation as using religion for own ends, while intrinsic orientation means having embraced a creed the individual endeavours to internalise it and follow it fully. As few items in the original scale were appropriate for measuring Islamic belief, the author did not use the original scale; instead selected some items from the scale, and adapted some of the other items to Islamic culture. Thus, seven items from the extrinsic sub-scale (items: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11) and one item (item: 12) from the intrinsic sub-scale were selected from the original ROS for the research instrument. The author created 10 new items after utilising the original ROS, and considering general Islamic beliefs and morality in Turkish culture.

In a preliminary analysis, a principal components factor analysis was performed on the sub-scale. Factoring ceased when all eigenvalues of greater than one were obtained and when a set of factors explained a large percentage of the total variance was achieved. Exploratory factor analysis revealed a three-factor solution for the sub-scale. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin test (index: 0.920) and Bartlett's test of Sphericity (Barlett's=1884.214, p<0.001) indicated that these data were deemed fit for factor analysis. According to Büyüköztürk (2004), the factor analysis showed that: (1) the sub-scale exceeded the acceptable standard of Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin's value of 0.6, (2) the sub-scale was significant in Bartlett's test of Sphericity, (3) the sub-scale had eigenvalues larger than 1, and (4) the items included in the sub-scale exceeded factor loadings of 0.60. The factor solution indicated that 68.02% of the total variance was explained by the three factors. Five items were deleted from the scale as they correlated very little with the other items (below 0.3) and had a low loading (below 0.5). In summary, the first six-item dimension of the sub-scale was labeled as 'Religiosity and personal life'. The second dimension was labeled as 'Religiosity and social life' and comprised five items. Finally, the third two-item dimension was labeled as 'Religiosity and morality'. The reliability assessment was carried out for all items. The observed reliability coefficients were .90 for 'Religiosity and personal life'; .84 for 'Religiosity and social life', and .69 for 'Religiosity and morality'. The reliability coefficient of the whole religiosity sub-scale was .92. The results of the reliability analysis can be seen in Table 1.

The third sub-scale 'Machiavellianism' was created after the literature review. The sub-scale included six items; two were chosen from the Machiavellian Personality Scale developed by Dahling et al. (2009), and the other four were created by the author by adapting from the Machiavellian Personality Scale. Exploratory factor analysis revealed a one-factor solution. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin test (index: 0.804) and Bartlett's test of Sphericity (Barlett's=472.633, p<0.001) indicated that these data were deemed fit for factor analysis. The factor analysis showed that the sub-scale exceeded the acceptable standard of Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin's value of 0.6; was significant in Bartlett's test of Sphericity; and had eigenvalues larger than 1. The items included in the sub-scale exceeded factor loadings of 0.45, and 46.76% of the total variance was explained by the one factor. All of the six items were involved in the sub-scale because they had high loading (higher 0.45). The reliability of the measure was assessed with Cronbach's alpha .76 for the sub-scale. The results of the reliability analysis can be seen in Table 1.

Finally, the utilitarianism sub-scale with 8 items was created by the author based on the literature review (Mill, 1863; Zimmerman, 2008; Hamilton, 2012; Zane, 2013). Exploratory factor analysis revealed a three-factor solution for this sub-scale. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin test (index: 0.766) and Bartlett's test of Sphericity (Barlett's=611.918, p<0.001) indicated that these data were deemed fit for factor analysis. The factor analysis showed that the sub-scale exceeded the acceptable standard of Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin's value of 0.6; was significant in Bartlett's test of Sphericity; and had eigenvalues larger than 1. The items included in the sub-scale exceeded factor loadings of 0.50, and 68.324% of the total variance was explained by the three factors. All of the eight items were involved in the sub-scale because they had high loading (higher 0.45). In summary, the first dimension of the sub-scale comprised of four items and was labelled as 'Benefit'; the second was labelled as 'Rights' and comprised of two items, and the third included two items and was labelled, as 'Sacrifice'. The observed reliability coefficients were .76 for 'Benefit'; .76 for 'Rights', and .44 for 'Sacrifice'. Therefore the 'Sacrifice' dimension was dropped from the sub-scale, because the Cronbach's alpha values for the items had a low loading (below 0.3). The reliability coefficient of the sub-scale with two dimensions was .79 (Table 1).

Since the sample comprised Turkish teachers, the questionnaire was developed in Turkish. The author announced the aim of the study to the teachers in the Marmara region by email and by face-to-face meetings. During the announcement, teachers were given examples of wrongdoings observed, especially at schools, and the description of whistleblowing. They were guaranteed anonymity and were invited to participate in the research. Thus participants were recruited according to their willingness to participate in the study. The author administered the questionnaire by two means: emailed to individuals or given to volunteer participants face-to-face. In face-to-face administration, the author waited until the participants completed the questionnaires, and then collected them.


Mean, median, and standard deviations for the variables are presented in Table 1.

Table 1: Reliability measures, mean values, standard deviations, and median of variables

Internal whistleblowing.5044.180.924.50
    Report the wrongdoing to the other teachers/staff within the school..3434.061.224.00
    Report it to deputy principal..3434.311.055.00
Identified whistleblowing.7843.491.214.00
    Report it by using my real name..6443.551.364.00
    Report the wrongdoing by giving detailed information about myself..6443.431.324.00
Anonymous whistleblowing.6792.591.192.50
    Report it using an assumed name..5162.271.312.00
    Report the wrongdoing, but don't give any information about myself..5162.901.433.00
    Religiosity and personal life.8983.471.103.67
    What religion offers me most is comfort when sorrows and misfortune strike..7093.911.264.00
    Religion is especially important, because it answers many questions about the
    meaning of life.
    My religious beliefs are really, what underlying behind my whole approach to life..6822.981.393.00
    An individual must behave consistent with the religious rules..7773.571.354.00
    Religion determines general moral rules..7963.171.374.00
    Moral rules are at the same time the religion rules..6393.301.424.00
    Religiosity and social life8412.591.092.60
    The religious places are the most important places to formulate good
    social relationships.
    The religious community is the most important place to formulate good
    social relationships.
    Religious community I am a member of which offers me most is support when
    sorrows and misfortunes strike.
    I take religious leaders/trainers as a model to develop my religious life..6902.821.483.00
    I believe that religious leaders/trainers always tell the truth..6622.781.322.00
    Religiosity and morality.6882.581.262.50
    Nonreligious people are not supposed to behave morally..5262.201.392.00
    Religious people behave morally..5262.961.513.00
    If I would be successful at the end, I would behave immorally..4071.501.021.00
    The only good reason to talk to others is to get information that I can use to
    my benefit.
    If I see any unethical act at work, I use it to take advantage of it..6461.781.161.00
    If I see any unethical act at work, I would use it from the others until the time I
    can take advantage of it.
    If I see any unethical act at work, I whistleblow only when I can take advantage of it..6011.691.101.00
    If I witness a wrongdoing in the group in which I am a member of it, I hide it
    from others to protect it from being damaged.
    I believe that an individual's right can be deprived for the sake of the majority..4881.951.291.00
    I can lie to people to have benefit for the majority..6721.981.231.00
    People can be deceived to have benefit for the majority..7191.641.001.00
    I can deceive third parties for the benefit of the group in which I am a member of it..4451.340.811.00
    Managers have right to deprive minority's rights to have benefit for the majority..6191.771.141.00
    I believe that to protect the majority's interest, minority's rights can be deprived..6191.801.171.00

As Table 1 demonstrates, it is noteworthy that the mean value for anonymous whistleblowing (mean=2.59), tended to lie below the middle of the scale, and indicated that there was considerable disagreement among the respondents concerning anonymous whistleblowing. The results indicate that the participants would prefer internal channels for reporting a potential observed wrongdoing, with their real names and detailed personal information. These results are consistent with the results of Park et al. (2008), whose study revealed that the mean score of the Turkish students was 2.98 for anonymous whistleblowing. Besides, they accord with the results of Nayir and Herzig (2012) whose study revealed that the mean score of the Turkish managers was 2.61 for anonymous whistleblowing; and the results of Toker Gökçe (2013a) whose study revealed that the mean score of the Turkish teachers was 2.55 for anonymous whistleblowing. However, the mean score of the identified whistleblowing (mean=3.49) is higher than the middle of the scale, and this indicates that respondents considered they slightly prefer whistleblowing using their names or identities. Besides, the mean score of internal whistleblowing (mean=4.18) has the highest level among the value scores related to whistleblowing modes. This indicated that, the participants considered whistleblowing through internal channels to be preferable.

As Table 1 shows, the mean value of the first dimension of religiosity (Religiosity and personal life) (mean=3.47) tended to lie above the middle of the scale, and indicates that, overall, the participants considered themselves to be relatively committed to religious as personal beliefs. However, the mean scores of the other dimensions are below the middle of the scale. It is noteworthy that mean value for the first item (mean=3.07), involved in the 'Religiosity and social life' dimension, is above the middle of the scale. This indicates that, overall, the participants considered religious places to be relatively social places.

According to the Table 1 the mean values for both Machiavellianism (mean=1.88), and utilitarianism (mean=1.83), tended to lie below the middle of the scale. These results indicate that the highest disagreement with the two dimensions (Machiavellianism and utilitarianism) exists among the respondents.

A correlation analysis was carried out to examine the direction and the strength of the association between the variables. Table 2 presents the correlation matrix for the variables used in the analysis. The results confirm significant relationships between religiosity and ethical value orientations of teachers and the way wrongdoing within the school is reported.

Table 2: Pearson correlations between the variables

ReligiosityPearson correlation1



UtilitarianPearson correlation.1191



MachiavellianPearson correlation.205*.367**1



Pearson correlation.153*-.050.0451



Pearson correlation-.001-.004-.018.300**1

Pearson correlation.108.002-.039.175*-.366**1
*p<.05, **p<.001

As can be seen in Table 2, there was a significant positive correlation between religiosity and internal whistleblowing. Thus, religiosity appears to have a positive effect on internal whistleblowing, but Machiavellianism and utilitarianism do not. This provides partial support for the first hypothesis (H1), that religiosity is positively associated with the modes of whistleblowing.

The results of the analysis revealed an unexpected finding. There was a strong (positive) relationship between Machiavellianism and both religiosity and utilitarianism. Besides, there was a strong relationship between internal whistleblowing and both identified, and anonymous reporting. Not surprisingly, there is a strong negative relationship between identified, and anonymous whistleblowing. Therefore, the results revealed in the correlation analysis do not support the second and third hypotheses (H2 and H3).

To test the first hypothesis regression analysis was used. The first hypotheses (H1) suggested that religiosity is positively associated with the modes of whistleblowing. Table 3 illustrates the regression between religiosity and internal whistleblowing.

Table 3: Regression model for religiosity and internal whistleblowing


R = .153R2 .023F(1-269)=6.458

β = standardised beta, p<0.05

As shown in Table 3, religiosity appears to have a positive effect on internal whistleblowing, which provides partial support of the first hypothesis. The second hypothesis suggested that utilitarianism is positively associated with modes of whistleblowing. As the results in Table 2 did not confirm any relationship between utilitarianism and the whistleblowing modes, the second hypothesis was rejected. Besides, the third hypothesis suggested that Machiavellianism is negatively associated with the modes of whistleblowing. Yet the results demonstrated in the Table 2 did not confirm that hypothesis. So the third hypothesis was rejected.

Discussion and conclusion

This study aimed to examine the relationship between the teachers' preferences for modes of whistleblowing and their religiosity, and the orientations, utilitarian and Machiavellianism. Existing scales for measuring religiosity were based on Christianity and Western Cultures. Turkey does not have an official religion as it is secular. However, the majority are Muslims, whilst Christians, Jews and atheists constitute very little of Turkey's population. Therefore, the author developed a questionnaire for the study according to Turkish and Islamic culture. After the preliminary analyses, external whistleblowing dimension was dropped out from the modes of whistleblowing scale. Therefore, the teachers' preference for reporting a wrongdoing to external parties could not be examined in the study. Besides, while there is a Machiavellian Personality Scale developed by Christie and Geis (1970, as cited in Dahling et al. 2009), the author preferred to not to use the whole scale; instead she utilised some of it and created some other items. This is consistent with the author's aim to examine the teachers' value orientations related to Machiavellianism, utilitarianism and religiosity in the context of whistleblowing intention. Future research may examine individual influences on whistleblowing by using the Machiavellian Personality Scale.

The results of the preliminary analyses indicate that potential whistleblowers are generally reluctant to express to external parties their observations about wrongdoings in organisations. Besides, if they do adopt whistleblowing, they would do it with a high level of identification. In this respect, there is evidence of support for the claim by Nayir and Herzig (2012) that whistleblowing in Turkey is often viewed as risky for individuals. Therefore, the teachers seem to prefer not going to external channels to disclose organisational wrongdoings because of fear of retaliation; instead, they go internal channels, maybe with an expectation of being rewarded, with their real names. They might believe that reporting an observed wrongdoing through internal channels with their identities might make them be perceived as a hero in the Ministry of Education. Therefore, this result could be in accord with Miceli et al. (1991), who suggested that employees who are in lower hierarchical levels in an organisation prefer whistleblowing remain internal, staying within their organisations because of extrinsic rewards. Nevertheless, this result can be interpreted with two alternatives: (1) fear of being labeled a troublemaker, and the possibility of retaliation by school managers might work as powerful deterrents for the participants against going external channels about organisational wrongdoings; or (2) they might be willing to fix problems notwithstanding the possibility of retaliation by the internal channels instead of being rewarded. They might even believe that nothing would be changed after their disclosure of the wrongdoings at schools. Furthermore, they may be aware through the agency of the media about retaliation in cases concerning whistleblower teachers.

Another finding revealed in the preliminary analyses indicates that teachers regard religion as an asylum when they feel sorrow, and they found answers many questions about the meaning of life by means of religion. Besides, the teachers consider religious places as most important places for forming good social relationships, and religious leaders as models to develop their religious life. Further, the results indicate that educators slightly consider that religious people behave morally. Finally, findings revealed that the educators do not show Machiavellian or utilitarian tendencies. To this extent at least, the teachers might be supposed to be integrated, trustworthy, concerning for people, and following ethical decision rules, as Dahling et al. (2009) argued.

The Pearson correlation analysis revealed an unexpected finding. There was a strong relationship between Machiavellianism and both religiosity and utilitarianism. The first hypothesis suggested that religiosity is positively associated with the modes of whistleblowing. The findings indicate that religiosity appears to have a positive effect on internal whistleblowing. Therefore, the results confirmed significant relationships between religiosity and the way wrongdoing within the school is reported, while they did not for the other modes of reporting. Therefore, the results confirmed the first hypothesis partly. These results accord with Barnett et al. (1996), who examined the relationship between religiosity and intention to whistleblowing, and Woiceshyn (2011) who argued that religion has a direct effect as well as an ethical philosophy influence on ethical decision-making. Surprisingly, the expected positive relationship between religiosity and identified and anonymous mode of whistleblowing did not materialise.

In the second hypothesis, it was postulated that utilitarianism is positively associated with modes of whistleblowing. The findings did not support this hypothesis, a result that does not confirm Miceli et al. (2009), who argued that whistleblowers are utilitarian and they are driven by social responsibility to voice disclosure, even when they are under strict pressure to keep silent. Finally, the last hypothesis suggested that Machiavellianism is negatively associated with the modes of whistleblowing, which was not confirmed by the results. Researchers (Miceli & Near, 1992; Miceli & Near, 1988; Barnett et al., 1996) studying whistleblowing have found that individual factors, and religious preference as well as situational factors have all been linked to whistleblowing tendencies. Besides, Barnett, et al. (1996), Singhapakdi et al. (2000) and Woiceshyn (2011) argued that religion has a direct effect, as well as an ethical philosophy input into on ethical decision making. Therefore, the present study provides evidence that individual variables may play a role in decisions about reporting organisational wrongdoings.


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Author: Dr Asiye Toker Gökçe is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, Kocaeli University, Turkey. She teaches in the topics of organisational behavior, school management, professional ethics, educational philosophy, and mobbing. Her research interests includes these topics, and topics in teacher education and disruptive behaviours at work.
Email: asi.gokce@kocaeli.edu.tr, asitoker@gmail.com
Web: http://akademikpersonel.kocaeli.edu.tr/asi.gokce/

Please cite as: Toker Gökçe, A. (2015). Relating teachers' whistleblowing tendency and personal features: Machiavellianism, religiosity, and utilitarianism. Issues in Educational Research, 25(4), 517-534. http://www.iier.org.au/iier25/toker-gokce.html

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