Audit firm policies designed to protect whistleblowers against retaliation for reporting wrongdoing could backfire and make potential tipsters even more fearful of the possible consequences, according to a new academic study.

The study, which appears in the spring issue of the American Accounting Association journal Behavioral Research in Accounting, suggests explicit assurances that whistleblowing will not lead to retaliation could have an unintended effect. Although the experiment deals with a hypothetical auditing firm, it could have implications for other types of organizations.

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