Accountants’ Whistle-Blowing Intentions: The Impact of Retaliation, Age, and Gender


  • Gregory A. Liyanarachchi,

  • Ralph Adler

Gregory Liyanarachchi, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Lincoln University, PO Box 84, Lincoln 7647, Canterbury, New Zealand. Tel: +64 3 321 8261; fax: +64 3 325 3847; email:


Accounting practices and the role of auditors have been widely implicated in many corporate scandals. Accountants are likely to witness serious wrongdoings at their workplace, presenting them with a difficult choice as to whether or not to whistle-blow. This study reports online survey results of whistle-blowing intentions of the members of Certified Practising Accountants of Australia. The study provides data on the effect of threat of retaliation, age and gender on accountants’ propensity to blow the whistle. The results show a complex interaction effect of retaliation, participants’ age, and gender on their propensity to blow the whistle. Among the early career accountants, male accountants are more likely than female accountants to blow the whistle. Accountants in the mid-age group are not only likely to whistle-blow when there is retaliation but also tend to be more willing to do so when that retaliation involves a direct personal loss rather than a loss to their associates. Accountants in the age group of 45 years or above respond to retaliation differently depending on their gender. Specifically, female accountants’ propensity to blow the whistle in this age group tends to decline as the retaliation threat increases from weak to strong, yet the change in retaliation threat has little impact on male accountants’ propensity to blow the whistle. These results and their implications are discussed.