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An Economic Model of Whistle-Blower Policy

Anthony Heyes and Sandeep Kapur
Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization
Vol. 25, No. 1 (May, 2009), pp. 157-182
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25620025
Page Count: 26
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An Economic Model of Whistle-Blower Policy
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Abstract

"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.

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