Organizational silence and whistle-blowing on IT projects: An integrated model

Chongwoo Park, Mark Keil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


An individual's reluctance to report bad news about a troubled information technology (IT) project has been suggested as an important contributor to project failure and has been linked to IT project escalation, as well. To date, information systems researchers have drawn from, the mum effect and whistle-blowing literature to gain a better understanding of the factors that influence bad news reporting. More recent theoretical work in the area of organizational silence offers a promising new conceptual lens, but remains empirically untested. In this research note, we integrate key elements of Morrison and Milliken's (2000) model of organizational silence, which has never been empirically tested, with the basic whistle-blowing model adapted from Dozier and Miceli (1985). Using a role-playing experiment, we investigate how organizational structures/policies, managerial practices, and degree of demographic dissimilarity between employees and top managers create a climate of silence and how this climate, in turn, affects an individual's willingness to report. Our results show that all three types of factors contribute to a climate of silence, exerting both direct and indirect influence on willingness to report, as hypothesized. The implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-918
Number of pages18
JournalDecision Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Bad news reporting
  • Organizational silence
  • Project management
  • Whistle blowing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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