An Economic Model of Whistle-Blower Policy
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2009, vol. 25, issue 1, 157-182
"Whistle-blowing" is an increasingly common element of regulatory enforcement programs and one that is encouraged by recent legislation in the United States and elsewhere. We examine how responsive regulators should be to whistle-blower tip-offs and how severe should penalties be for wrongdoers detected in this way. Competing psychological theories as to what motivates employees to become whistle-blowers are operationalized as alternative behavioral heuristics. Optimal policy depends upon the motives attributed to whistle-blowers--which of the theories you subscribe to--but is not in general characterized by maximal penalties nor routine pursuit of complaints, even when pursuit is costless. (JEL K42, K32) The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: email@example.com, Oxford University Press.
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